University of Nottingham graduate Hanna Flint discusses the importance of film, film representation and her new book Strong Female Character

In September, you will release your first book Strong feminine character. Can you tell us a bit more?
So, as a film critic and writer and someone who basically grew up watching movies, I felt inspired to see how what we watch on screen influences us. There were a lot of movie topics I wanted to cover, but at the same time, I thought I could tie that into a pretty cool memoir. So, instead of just talking about my life, it combines the two.

I think for a lot of us movies help us process life. Is this something that concerns you?
Absolutely. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t refer to movies, and I certainly think movies help us understand each other better. For example, there’s a chapter in the book about motherhood, and I remember watching Ladybug for the first time and thinking “that’s exactly us”, me and my mother. Film can provide a way to communicate how you feel, as any art form does. I really feel like a lot of what I watched taught me, inspired me, or influenced me in some way.

Both positive and negative…
Yes. I think, especially as a millennial, there are certain depictions, images, and dialogues that we’ve seen that have positively and negatively impacted how we navigate the world. You can appreciate cinema but recognize the good and the bad, and I hope this book does that. I hope this is a bit of a manifesto on how we can improve and do more, and try to represent as many voices as possible, so that we can not only understand ourselves, but also others.

I hope this is a bit of a manifesto on how we can improve and do more, and try to represent as many voices as possible

This interview is for LeftLion150th edition, whose theme is the party. One of the major themes of the book is that you learn to celebrate your Tunisian origin…
It is, and it’s been an up and down journey, mostly because I’m mixed and don’t have that connection to my culture. There’s this weird thing where you don’t want to be defined by your identity, but you want to feel part of it. My big thing is that I want to go to Tunisia, I was supposed to go there before the lockdown, and it’s still something I want to do. But the best way for me to feel that connection now is through cooking and cinema, or even watching Wimbledon and seeing Ons Jabeur, who is Tunisian. It’s so important.

Obviously, the other major theme of the book is femininity. Why was this so important to you?
I made a BBC Inside the cinema video essay on the strong female character, and I had to think about what the trope meant. Is it literally about being strong all the time? I certainly don’t think so, and I hope my final chapter (named after the book), shows that strength is vulnerable. It was important for me to ask what it really means to be a strong female character.

And finally, since we are focusing this section of the magazine on the ‘Next Generation’, what are your hopes for the future?
In a material sense, I would like to buy an apartment one day. Having my own property and autonomy is one of the few arbitrary goals I would like to achieve. But I guess, selfishly, I just want to find more satisfaction, and as someone who is quite anxious and has impostor syndrome, I want to be able to enjoy my own successes more.

Strong Female Character will be released Thursday, September 29 via Footnote Press

@hannainesflint