Of all the films you've watched over the last year, how many were scored by women? And supposing there were a few, could you name the composers? There's been a lot of talk about the number of women being given opportunities in the film industry. The statistics are bad right across the board and particularly bad for composers. According to a 2015 Variety article ‘Women accounted for 1% of all composers and 5% of all sound designers and supervising sound designers.’ Last week I pledged to watch 52 films directed by women in the #52FilmsByWomen campaign started by Women In Film-LA. It’s one film a week for a year. And that got me thinking.... I decided to take it one step further….to watch one film scored by a female composer each week for the next year. When I mentioned this to a friend, his first reaction was ‘But are there enough films to watch?!’ Now, of course there are, but the very fact that such a reaction is possible or that one even needs to think about it for a moment is enough of a comment on the situation. So over the next 52 weeks I intend to cast a spotlight on some of these film scores. I’ll post about it here and my hope is that you'll be inspired to join me in watching, discussing and sharing. This is the start of the conversation...please add your voice. Also, please feel free to suggest any films to watch. I have a list, but I’m sure there are many films that I haven’t come across yet..... many gems to discover! So, to begin....The film for week 1 is below. Week 1 Film: Mansfield Park (Patricia Rozema) Composer: Lesley Barber The film I found for this week is loosely based on the book by Jane Austen as well as some of her early writings and journals. I have always been a Jane Austen fan, so was really looking forward to watching this and I certainly wasn't disappointed! The film ranges from the downright comic to the beautifully romantic, from the light sophistication of the Jane Austen world to the dark world of slavery. Lesley Barber's score for this film is a revelation. The sometimes intimate, sometimes sweeping music perfectly reflects all the changing emotions and moods on screen, adding a wonderful sumptuousness to the film. It starts out as a seemingly traditional string score in keeping with the period of the film, and then very quickly starts unloading its surprises. In one scene we hear a Glass Harmonica being played and in another a Hurdy Gurdy accompanies a quaint fireworks display. Then in another surprising twist Fanny Price (the heroine) discovers horrific drawings of slaves and the music turns dark, a frantic solo violin figure and the voices of slaves contributing to the horror. Unexpected touches of percussion add colour to the comic moments, flutes turn up to illustrate doves in the fireworks scene and minimalist piano figurations add to the interest and energy of the music as a whole. I love the scene in which Fanny Price rides out into the rain on horseback, the music beautifully reflecting her turmoil of emotions and the mad rush through the wet night with sustained strings and an insistent piano figure. This is a very fresh and modern take on a period score.