Give Us a Smile

(1983, 13 minutes)

GIVE US A SMILE shows the effect of the harassment women live with every day, ranging from 'street humour' and media stereotyping to actual physical violence.

Using quotations from real cases, it also shows how women who report rapes or assaults are often subject to further harassment by the police and legal system.

This film was made by women who lived in Leeds during the 1970s and early 80s, when a series of murderous sexual attacks by the so-called Yorkshire Ripper led to a virtual "curfew on women". In response, the many women's groups already active in the area decided it was time to put their own point of view.

This is reflected in the film, along with the producers' own experience of sexism - in the street, and in the imagery that surrounds us all. Working in animation, they were also particularly aware that extreme misogyny is often delivered through the medium of cartoons.

All the words spoken by male voices in the film were taken from life, either through written reports, or from personal experience. In addition to these verbal quotations, the film contains visual quotations in the form of photographic references and drawings from magazines. These are rendered in black and white, and subverted in the course of the film.

This is not a depressing story about bad experiences and vulnerable victims, but an upbeat and often humourous challenge to question what is often taken for granted. An exhilarating final sequence shows some of the ways women have been fighting back.

Music: Lindsey Cooper
Singer: Maggie Nicols
Song lyrics: Leeds Animation Workshop
Certificate 15.

Made with financial assistance from: the British Film Institute and Yorkshire Arts Association

Watch a clip of the film here: