Battle of the Sexes Directors on the Ongoing Struggle for Gender Equality

Photo of Cassam Looch
Social Editor24 November 2017

It seems like the perfect time, albeit for troubling reasons, for the release of sports biopic Battle of the Sexes. We spoke to co-directors Valerie Faris & Jonathan Dayton about why their new film is so important in the current social climate.

Emma Stone and Steve Carell as Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs | © 20th Century Fox

Emma Stone stars as Billie Jean King, a tennis superstar regarded as one of the greatest players of all-time. Opposite her stands Steve Carell’s outlandish braggart Bobby Riggs, a man who has seen the spotlight gradually fade from his own sporting achievements. In a moment of madness (or extreme confidence) he challenges King to a match to see who is the best.

Against the backdrop of early 1970s blatant sexism, where women are only entitled to a fraction of the prize money their male counterparts can win at tournaments, King is reluctant to take part in the media circus Riggs is creating.

The film depicts the era, and King’s own struggle to perform on the court, in startling detail. We see how intense scrutiny of her personal life, including her fear of being forcibly outed for a same-sex relationship while being married to a man, is effecting King. Eventually an exhibition match is agreed on, and a global audience tunes in to see who will be victorious in the Battle of the Sexes.

Sarah Silverman and Emma Stone in ‘Battle of the Sexes’ | © 20th Century Fox

We caught up with Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton during their recent visit to the UK at The London Film Festival and asked them why their film is so relevant today.

Battle of the Sexes is on general release now


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