When art becomes reality: protesters storm Suffragette film premiere to fight for women’s rights

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Sejal Kapadia Pocha

Green and purple smoke bombs filled the air as feminist protesters were physically pushed back over barriers - the scene at the opening night of the British Film Festival and premiere of film Suffragette proved that the fight for women's equality is well and truly alive, more than a hundred years on from the original movement.

Hundreds of women stormed the red carpet holding banners and chanting slogans for female rights in Leicester Square last night, as stars from Meryl Streep to Carey Mulligan and Anne-Marie Duff made their entrance at the opening of their new film about the women's suffragette movement. 

Dressed in T-shirts bearing the slogan “Two women killed every week” and “Dead women can't vote”, 15 protesters from a group named Sisters Uncut laid on the red carpet to highlight the cuts to domestic violence services, while actress Helena Bonham Carter watched on and applauded them. 

“I think it's marvellous. That is exactly what the suffragettes were about,” said Bonham Carter who plays an English suffragette. “Hopefully the film will inspire anybody who feels an injustice has been done, to be bold enough to protest.”

Ramola Garai said, “I haven't spoken to them or seen their demands but I'm happy to see the suffrage movement is alive and happening.”

suffragette premiere protesters

“Rather than protest the film as such, we wanted to use the publicity of the night to remind the world that the fight is far from over,” explained Sarah Kwei, a member of Sisters Uncut, in a blogpost on The Independent this morning. 

“We organise in the spirit of the Suffragettes themselves and feel certain that had they been alive today, they would have been down there with us. These were their tactics and we feel proud and humble to be carrying the flame in the continued fight for women's liberation.”

While in full support of the film's message, Kwei also said the all-white cast in the film erases the contribution and achievements of women of colour in the movement such as Sophie Duleep Singh and her Indian sisters, who led the Black Friday deputation to the Houses of Parliament in 1910.

Other protesters held banners with the words “50/50 Parliament”, calling for equality in the British Government, “Women Are Powerful and Dangerous,” and “We ain't done”.

The premiere ran at least 15 minutes behind schedule as police managed protesters and extra barriers were brought in.

Images: Rex Features

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Sejal Kapadia Pocha

Sejal Kapadia Pocha covers stories about everything from women’s issues to cult foods. She describes herself as a balance between Hermione and Luna Lovegood.

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