Entertainment & Arts

Gemma Arterton on her 'feminist' WW2 role in Their Finest

Gemma Arterton Image copyright Getty Images

Gemma Arterton says the character in her latest film is a feminist who "doesn't know it yet".

Lone Scherfig's period comedic drama Their Finest tells the story of a group of filmmakers making a film to boost morale during World War Two.

Arterton plays Catrin Cole, a screenwriter hired to bring a female perspective to war films produced by the British Ministry of Information.

The film had its gala screening the BFI London Film Festival on Thursday night.

Image copyright HanWay Films
Image caption Arterton plays a screenwriter during WW2

The film shows how she has to put up with a lower salary than her male counterparts and has to fight pressure to dilute the female roles in her screenplay.

In the film, the female dialogue is referred to as "slop" - a term used in some film-making circles at the time.

"It's obviously sexist," Arterton said ahead of the screening, "but funnily enough for Catrin I don't think she's aware of it. I think at that time it was just kind of accepted."

She added: "What I like about Catrin is that she is a feminist and she doesn't know it yet."

Arterton stars in the film alongside Bill Nighy, who plays a fading movie actor, and Hunger Games star Sam Claflin as Catrin's colleague at the ministry.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Their Finest: Bill Nighy, Gemma Arterton, Lone Scherfig and Sam Claflin

Their Finest is Danish film-maker Scherfig's fifth film set in the UK. Her other films include An Education and The Riot Club.

"I never felt this that film was primarily a feminist film," Scherfig told the BBC.

"The whole story of a woman finding out what she can do and gaining respect for it is definitely the main plot but the whole package - about London and the film industry - is what gives the film its depth and complexity."

Producer Stephen Woolley said he had loved making a film about a time when making films was so important.

"When they made films in the 1940s it was a matter of life and death. They had no idea if they'd have a film set or any actors the next day, or if the Germans had invaded...

"They look a bit corny now, but those films were so important. Thirty million people a week used to go to the cinema. That's never going to happen again.

"This was the golden age of filmmaking and film-going. People needed those movies."

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