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Billie Piper’s directorial debut is the “completely unhinged comedy” we’re all talking about

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Hollie Richardson
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Billie Piper new film

Actor and singer Billie Piper has directed her first film, Rare Beasts, which stars Lily James. Here’s everything we know so far. 

Billie Piper is perhaps best known for her acting credentials as Rose Tyler in Doctor Who and Belle de Jour in Secret Diary of a Call Girl. For those of us who remember the 90s pop scene well, Piper was the energetic teen singer behind Because We Want To and Honey to the Bee (which were cheesy tunes at their finest, FYI). 

Now, Piper has turned her hand to directing, and her film debut is causing a stir.

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Rare Beasts, which Piper also wrote and stars in, will receive its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. The film has been selected for the festival’s ‘film critics’ week sidebar, and has been described by the event’s general delegate Giona Nazzaro as “a completely unhinged comedy.”

Consider our interest well and truly piqued. But, what exactly is “anti-rom com” Rare Beasts about?

Lily James and Billie Piper
Billie Piper’s film Rare Beasts will star her friend Lily James.

Piper plays Mandy, a struggling mum from a dysfunctional family, who is writing about “a love that no longer exists”. She falls upon troubled man Pete (Leo Bill) who “seeks traditional dynamics and a sense of worth in this current female movement”.

The cast also includes incredible British actors: Lily James (Mamma Mia, Downton Abbey) and David Thewlis (Harry Potter). 

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Piper’s directorial debut comes at a crucial time for female film directors.  A recent report found that there are 22 male directors for every female director. It also reported that in the last 11 years, only 4% of 1,100 films surveyed were directed by a woman. And it showed that female directors have shorter careers than their male counterparts.

But a newer study by The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film reports that independent films produced, directed and written by women are on the rise. It found that there was a record number of female directors over the last year (33%, up from 29%). It also showed that there were 6% more female writers, 6% more executive producers and 2% more editors. 

The figures aren’t exactly staggering, but it’s promising news for the entertainment industry. 

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Of course, there’s still a long way to go. But Piper’s Rare Beasts looks like another head-turning film that will join the likes of Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart and Mindy Kaling’s Late Night in making the industry pay attention to female directors.

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