Share

NY Times Debate: How Can Women Gain Influence in Hollywood?

Women and Hollywood’s Melissa Silverstein, someone I consider to be a growing voice in the film community, has co-curated a panel for the New York Times on women and their influence in Hollywood.  Or rather, their non-existent influence in Hollywood. It’s a must-read and a subject that should not be abandoned because we … oh look, shiny object.

Why does anyone care about this subject? Because it’s a glaring, ongoing problem that doesn’t appear to be getting fixed any time soon. More salt was rubbed in the wound when Sight & Sound listed its top fifty Greatest Films of All Time, which ended up being a lot like Oscar’s own single-minded vision:

Greatest-Films-of-All-Time-according-to-mostly-white-mostly-male-critics-who-tend-towards-mostly-male-narratives-because-nothing-is-less-interesting-than-the-female-narrative-because-what’s-that-the-sappy-romcom-or-movies-that-talk-about-feeling?-because-men-are-more-visual-and-film-is-a-visual-medium-and-women-aren’t-visual-unless-they-are-visual-in-which-case-they’re-still-women.-Whew.-It’s-a-long-rant-and-that’s-really-only-the-beginning.

When the Academy had a solid ten Best Picture slots, in 2009 and 2010, it afforded more opportunities for women directors to actually have their films nominated for Best Picture, something that hardly ever happens. But last year’s herding cats method, where there could be anywhere between 5 and 9, women were shut out once again and will likely be shut out for some time to come.  Wouldn’t it be a more interesting world if critics and the Academy thought a little bit differently about what defines “best”?

A quick history:

Women weren’t directors because women were a powerful force on screen. There was no need to go out and produce their own projects because Hollywood made movies that starred women. You can trace it back twenty years, the decline of films starring women that topped the box office. Two things happened that changed everything. The blockbuster effects-driven films rose to prominence  and Julia Roberts changed the way women in film were regarded.  She was the  $100 million baby who could “open” movies. Suddenly it wasn’t about anything except how much money women could bring it at the box office. And little by little, women disappeared. Not only that, but the young ones come in, are used up, and then they, too, disappear. How long before Jennifer Lawrence is gone?  This silly idea of the $100 million baby is really what changed things for the worst for actresses.

Cut to — suddenly actresses start seeing their power diminish and thus, we see a proliferation of female directors starting about the same time, the 1980s, on through the 90s, where they really did have some pull, and now, where they have very little, despite Kathryn Bigelow becoming the first woman EVER to win Best Director at the Oscars.

I remember that Penny Marshall, Nora Ephron and Mimi Leder were powerful because they could earn money with their films. But those days are mostly gone.

Nancy Meyers has eked out a niche but seems to be the poster girl for why women directors make bad films.  Ditto Elaine May, whose Ishtar was unfairly considered one of the worst films every made (hardly).  But the film community now rarely gets excited about an up and coming director if she’s female. Can you imagine if a guy had directed We Need to Talk About Kevin? He’d be hailed as the new genius. Conversely, imagine if a woman had directed Beasts of the Southern Wild? We build monuments to men in this business.  We barely give women the time of day. They are either money, or they’re tits and ass.  But geniuses?  I can think of two who are hailed as such by the critics: Bigelow (for the Hurt Locker, currently under backlash) and Jane Campion. Sofia Coppola and Sarah Polley are in there, too. Debra Granik, Courtney Hunt and Lynne Ramsay, though?  Just imagine if their most lauded films had been directed by men: careers made.

So you see, it is an ongoing evolution and I’m afraid women have to be louder, meaner and more willing to confront the status quo.

Women control the business from the backend. Most of the best publicists I know are women.  There are many women who work everywhere in film except in the power seat — the female writer/directors are shunned, just as, it’s worth noting, other minorities film directors are: unless they make a movie that appeals to the white, male demographic they can never make one of the Greatest Films of All Time.

If I had been asked to contribute to the piece I would have said something along the lines of what Silverstein said:

Respect our stories.

One thing that continues to confuse me is how it happened that the stories of male action heroes became the dominant narratives of our time. Women make up 51 percent of the population, but our stories don’t really seem to matter to Hollywood. That’s why a blockbuster success like “The Help” or “Bridesmaids” comes as such a shock.

Don’t read doom and gloom into every failure.

Men fail up in Hollywood and women fail out. Because there is no critical mass of women directors, women onscreen and women’s films in the development pipeline, films about women and films directed by women simply trickle into theaters. And while successful movies are not replicated quickly enough to build momentum, movie failures have large-scale implications.

Ultimately, putting women into power positions in front of the camera and behind the scenes makes financial sense, because as the statistics from the Motion Picture Association of America show, women buy half of all movie tickets.

And ultimately, money should be the message.

And here’s Martha Coolidge (I’m sorry I had to cut and paste her whole piece):

I was raised to believe I was equal and discovered, working in movies, that this wasn’t true. I’ve spent my life trying to change that. Though female directors are now a small part of the industry, we are an invisible minority. Even in government, we lack representation. It feels like we’ve gone backward. The cultural dismissal of women is so ingrained that the public, including women, doesn’t seem to perceive a problem.

For example, in the movie world, Steven Spielberg has always been seen as the quintessential wunderkind. And studios are always on the lookout for the next “boy wonder.” Thousands of would-be directors enter film school every year believing they could be the one, but only the best achieve careers. For a guy, competition is fierce, but for a woman, winning the lottery is a safer bet.

So how can we foster the first “girl wonder”?

Here is my dramatic answer: I believe we should legislate an intervention in hiring practices, similar to a civil rights or equal opportunity employment act against discrimination in private organizations. Are Republicans and Democrats going to join hands to pass this? No.

So here are my other ideas.

1. We should learn to identify with female heroes and leaders. This will open up all genres to women and empower female directors to tell stories the mass audience wants to see.

2. Young women should believe successful directing careers are within their reach. They should then train and hone their craft.

3. Producers and studios should hire many more women than they do now and truly embrace the belief that one of them could be “it.” They should judge women on the strength of their ideas and work, not on their sex appeal.

4. Producers shouldn’t limit women to lower budget films. They should expect them to handle big crews, big budgets, big ideas and big stars.

5. All of us, parents and teachers starting in childhood, and later men in the business, should never ask girls and/or women to play into gender-based feminine behavior.

6. Competitive women in particular should want success as a director before anything else, like finding a man or having a family. Successful directors are workaholics who define themselves by their careers and seek the company of their creative colleagues.

7. Women should feel secure with power, employing and delegating to others, and making decisions alone.

8. As a culture, we should embrace women in command. We should accept their eccentric behavior, and at times, the tantrums that come along with the extreme pressures of producing great work. Most women directors learn to walk a delicate line between being “difficult” and wimpy. Male directors don’t waste time or energy on this.

9. We should remember that men and women are equals. The emphasis on the differences of our genders in marketing, sports, school and, most problematic of all, religion, is not doing us any favors in show business.

10. We should glamorize female directors: mythologize them and promote their successes. Only then will the younger generations grasp, in a realistic and exciting way, the possibility of a movie-making “girl wonder.”

And Ted Hope says:

Mainstream mass-market film culture is stuck in a deep rut. When making money is the top priority, people produce work and hire people who keep them in power. Call it risk mitigation or cowardice, the lack of women in Hollywood comes from the same root.

Industries are like people: they change only when the pain of the present outweighs the fear of the future. The stakes may be too great for Hollywood to ever accept that audiences and communities want something other than what they have already had. If audiences continue to behave like the March Hare in “Alice in Wonderland,” confusing “I like what I get” for “I get what I like,” neither films nor the entities that produce them will evolve.

But I’ll add to it by saying:

We women have to step up and kick down the doors down. We have to not be afraid and imprisoned by our sex. The same way I think it’s wrong for African-American actors to always have to play positive images of African-Americans (that is too heavy of a burden for an artist) women should feel free to go dark, dirty, violent, crass — to not feel obliged to always make films about admirable female characters but to take on the challenge that men do — to tell stories that aren’t always about perfect women living in perfect homes with their perfect clothes and oh, if only Prince Charming would arrive soon then it will all be better.  We women know the darker sides of life.  We should feel free to tell these stories without fear of society’s scorn. And that part of it is up to us.

Many of the female directors I admire — Kathryn Bigelow, Jane Campion, Kimberly Pierce, Alison Anders, Courtney Hunt, Debra Granik all are not afraid to tell dark, interesting, visually arresting stories. It just so happens that the male dominated community of critics, and audiences, are receptive to their work.  But would any of these movies by these directors get anywhere near the Greatest Films of All Time list? Nope.  It gets back to what Silverstein is saying: there is little respect for the aesthetic of how women tell stories cinematically which is, not to generalize, different from how men do.

So where does it start? With starts with us. It starts with the people who shape the debate, the tastemakers, the critics. It starts by those minds ever-so-slowly getting used to the notion of a different kind of narrative for what is great.  And that is no easy feat. Try being a woman who writes about film on Twitter. Not only do most of the serious discussions on film involve only men but the linking you see on Facebook or Twitter to articles and reviews are usually written by men. Men respect other men and there are few women who can get the time of day with them. What I’ve learned is that you either have to be cute and sexy to get their attention (that’s the easiest way) or confrontational. If you challenge them they will pay attention to you.

It is not going to be easy, altering perception.  But it is not impossible either.

In 2010, I had a fit when The Kids Are All Right beat the Social Network at the New York Film Critics for screenplay. I was horrified that anyone could see that as a better written script. In the years since I’ve rewatched The Kids Are All Right many times and I think it is equally as good as The Social Network, which was made magnificent by Fincher’s directing. I was wrong to condemn The Kids Are All Right and if I had to do it over again I would change that.

We have to foster and support minority film writers and directors — give them confidence to do bold, challenging work by shifting our own perspective — we might have to redefine what we think of as The Greatest Films of All Time! We might. I may never live to see any significant shift but I’ll die trying, my friends. I’ll die trying.

 The full story is here. 

Further reading: the $100 Baby and the Dismal Tide

18 Comments on this Post

  1. I have heard this all over before from you Sasha countless times.

    It’s a rant. It’s mostly understandable. But what about this – why not just write genderless roles? Why do we distinguish between a male character and a female character? Men and women aren’t all that different. I feel like we don’t need to so much write for men/women, but just write for people. As a film maker, I usually try to write roles that aren’t gender/race exclusive.

  2. isn’t it interesting that the only woman director to ever win oscar won for the war movie without female characters?

  3. Nice piece, as always. But missed reading the names of Catherine Hardwicke, Patty Jenkins, and Brenda Chapman, even if the latter is working in animation.

  4. It is an interesting conversation. One thing I find it fascinating is that there are more women in Hollywood in position of power (executives, producers, agents) than ever before and this conversation seems always to be centered on writing/directing.

    Also these new “power women” should be able to green lit and support more female directed movies. why don’t they push it harder as well?

  5. Sadly, this is the story all over the place, not just Hollywood. Look at the Masters golf tournament. You have a country club that doesn’t allow women as members, and nobody cares. If they didn’t allow blacks as members, there would no longer be a major golf tournament there. For those who don’t follow golf, the last four CEOs of IBM were invited to be members of Augusta National. IBM is a major sponsor of the Masters tournament. Well, now there is a female CEO of IBM. Did she get an invitation? Of course not. Did she make a big stink about it? No, but it was probably in her contract that she could never bring it up. Everyone else should have made a huge stink about it, but like most issues regarding women, they get ignored.

    Look at government. Women are woefully under-represented there. Look at health-care for women – it’s insane that male politicians are even discussing what should and should not be legal for a woman. That’s between her and her doctor, and frankly no one else’s business.

    Look at business. Very few female CEOs.

    I agree with Sasha – yell until you are heard.

    On the Sight and Sound list, 13 of the “Greatest Ever” were made after 1970, and that’s where you find the one female contribution. That’s a better ratio (1/13) than the ratio of movies made by women vs. by men since that time, but the gap needs to be closed.

  6. steve50

    “Also these new “power women” should be able to green lit and support more female directed movies. why don’t they push it harder as well?”

    Good question! Apparently, Ted Hope (quote above) has nailed it, though – regardless of their sex, the powers-that-be are ordering up more of the same, looking for that bottom line success that will keep them in power.

    Until that special film sneaks through and proves its success, nothing will change. It could happen soon, perhaps this year, or maybe never.

  7. Branko Burcksen

    I am begging for more female voices in film because I am sick to death of the male gaze. There’s only so much you can learn from the female perspective when a woman’s story is told from the male gaze no matter how sensitive and mature they are about it. By the same token, I want to see more women take on movies about men, like Katheirne Bigelow has done, because I want to see a woman’s perspective of males.

    I wish this for the entire film industry, but in particular for anime where female voices rarely get a chance to be heard. Anime has a rather shameful history of misogyny, but at its best, it lifts female characters and female filmmakers above the pantheon.

    This year alone, Sayo Yamamoto became the first woman to direct a Lupin III series “The Woman Called Fujko Mine”. (The same franchise that Hayao Miyazaki directed his feature film off of.) Which was also written by one of my favorite anime screenwriters, male or female though in this case she’s female, Mari Okada.

    Also, this week saw the US release of a short film called “This Boy Can Fight Aliens!” made almost entirely alone by Soubi Yamamoto. (No relation to Sayo Yamamoto.) Whose been referred as a female “wonder kid” in the same right as Makoto Shinkai who made his short feature debut “Voices From a Distant Star” in much the same way.

    As far as male dominated criticism goes, at Anime News Network, they’ve staffed three stellar writers, Rebecca Silverman, Bamboo Dong and Erin Finnegan who write reviews of anime on a weekly basis against a back drop of still very male dominated review culture. Anime fandom as a whole though is pretty evenly split among men and women.

    I would be re mise if I didn’t also mention that even though a lot of anime is male centered (whether the cast is dominantly male or not) one anime in particular this year stands out as a female dominated take on vigilante heroics that are so gun-ho male in the US. I’ve mentioned “Madoka Magica” several times before, but it bears repeating that even though the creative heads of this short series are men, its focus on the friendship and strife of these girls as they defend their loved ones in superhero like fashion with a depth and cynicism that would make “The Dark Knight” shutter, makes it a testament to how far behind the US, especially in the animation realm, really are.

    For a better grasp of “Madoka Magica”, here’s one of my earlier posts that gives a better explanation of the series:

    In the month leading up to the release of TDKR, I again and again found myself compelled to not just to comment on Jim Emerson’s blog, but Mike Mirasol and several others’ about this conclusion to an incredible movie trilogy and the perfect coinciding stateside release of the twelve episode anime series “Madoka Magica”.
    What does a little heard of anime have to do with Batman or any other superhero movie for that matter? “Madoka Magica” is the lastest in a long line of anime from the magical girl genre made most famous in the West by “Sailor Moon.” Superheroes and magical girls share a few significant characteristics in common including strange outfits, living a double life and devotion to protecting the innocent from those who would do evil. Also, like many superhero movies, most magical girl shows are very childish. “Madoka Magica” sets itself apart from the rest of the herd like Nolan’s Batman trilogy by taking the genre down a more serious and darker investigation of what such a life style does to a person. What’s most astonishing about it though, is that after multiply viewings, reading several essays, discussions and comments here and elsewhere, I realized “Madoka Magica” plumes deep into the core of what it means to be a masked hero of justice, and not only tears it down to expose its raw center but escalates the stakes of the game to where the very foundations of what it means to be human are at risk.
    TDK trilogy wipes away the idealism and immaturity of the superhero story, like the directors and movies you name, have done with the Western and the War genre to reflect the more cynical and world weary eye of our current state. You’re very right that the conclusion to the trilogy sways at dangerous intervals between hope and complete despair. At stake is whether hope and good can rise above doubt and hate in our present cynicism without succumbing to despair. Nolan believes we can. But as you point out so well, and what other reviewers like Emerson have analyzed, is how the scale and philosophical quandaries of the movie override the drama.
    By the time “Madoka Magica” reaches the climax of its twelfth episode, it sets up such devastating and monumental conflicts it seems impossible to escape the soul crushing answer the story might dish out. It is able to do this without losing sight of its characters and the emotional development they have gone through. That’s what makes this short series so astonishing. Its characters embody and play out the conflicts and dilemmas of the superhero so well they can strip away so many of the conceits that characterize the superhero like defending the innocent, protecting secret identifies, sacrificing personal desires and straddling the line between good and evil to its very heart and explore the wider implications of the superhero role as to how it relates to the way a person should perceive the world and what human values like love and hope are really worth.
    The cat-like creature, Kyubey, confronts lead character Madoka and her friend Sayaka about making a contract with him to become magical girls in order to hunt witches in exchange for one wish. More lies behind this deal than at first appears of course, but both girls take the wise choice of really thinking about what they want and what it means to be a magical girl. That’s where their veteran witch hunting guide Mami comes in to show them the incredible risks she takes when she took on her role and the personal sacrifices it involved. We’ve seen that side of the superhero illustrated very well by Peter Parker in “Spider Man 2″, but “Madoka Magica” takes a much darker turn, like TDK trilogy in raising the stakes. In fact, the series dares to portray the most dire consequences of devoting a life to fighting evil from the shadows that no superhero movie ever touched, nor likely ever will.
    I believe the lines “With great power comes great responsibility,” and “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see ourself become the villain,” explain the dual dilemmas at the heart of the superhero mythos. By taking on a life of fighting crime, a superhero makes incredible personal sacrifices for their choice. Especially if they lead an ordinary day to day life. In that double life, risking and sacrificing so much while confronting the worst underbellies of society strains the belief that justice and good have any value in the world when a superhero receives so little benefit from their selfless acts.
    Sayaka takes the plunge into the role of the magical girl after wishing to save someone she loves. No sooner after that decision and she’s confronted by another magical girl named Kyoko who harasses her for wasting a wish on another person and taking on the mantle of a magical girl to defend others rather than help herself. In some respects Kyoko takes on the self-preservation argument of Catwoman in TDKR. Sayaka and Kyoko embody that conflict about whether a superhero should use their power for themselves or for others and Kyoko’s rationale makes head way as more truth comes to light.
    Sayaka risks everything for love, and then it falls out of her reach in the most devastating way possible. Even Peter Parker would fall into despair if he realized what she does. Kyoko is able to bear it though because she only looks out for herself. By not worrying about others, she also avoids worrying about what they think or whether they accept her.
    Through Sayaka and Kyoko, “Madoka Magica” confronts the most pressing issues of what it means to become a superhero. If it had done only that, than it would have rapped up the drama of what the best superhero movies have done. However, “Madoka” wants to take it a step farther.
    Madoka stands by, unable to figure out what to do, as she watches her friend succumb to despair. All the while the mysterious magical girl Homura goes to whatever lengths she can to prevent Madoka from making a contract with Kyubey and becoming a magical girl. With Madoka and Homura, the series reveals its real hand, the truth behind magical girls and the dilemmas of the superhero begun by Sayaka and Kyoko rise to their most dire and cosmic levels worthy of “2001” and “The Tree of Life”.
    If the inherent idea begun in the story that the only way to survive in a cruel and indifferent world is self-preservation than the climax raises that to the question of what meaning human values like hope and love have in a cold universe. Everything escalates to such a point where human hope and despair become little more than a tool. If you ever wondered what the ultimate identity of a cynical society looked like, “Madoka Magica” has your answer. What’s truly unbelievable though is that it manages to come out the other end without losing sight of the characters as it amps up the scale to its conclusion.
    That’s in no small part thanks to the excellent writing of the show. It’s only possible because of the indifferent logic presented by Kyubey and the truth revealed by Homura that gives the final conflict its emotional weight. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the portrayal of the fractured and distant relationship between Madoka and Homura maybe one of the most endearing friendships ever put on screen. How their relationship figures into the resolution is both one of the most heartbreaking and uplifting elements of the story.
    With all that said, “Madoka Magica” is not for everyone. Much like the superhero genre has its tropes that make it look childish, so does the magical girl genre though much like Nolan’s Batman trilogy, it tries to subvert those elements. Perhaps the most difficult aspect for certain audiences to accept is the series use of a type of Japanese cuteness called “moe”, think “My Little Pony”, that would prevent them from taking what happens seriously despite the series dark nature and serious implications. I am of the belief though that anyone capable of enjoying both an “Avengers” and a “Tree of Life” has the capacity to appreciate what “Madoka magica” tries to accomplish.
    I have brought up this series again and again, not out of devotion to the material, but because of the timing of its release to the superhero movies that have come out this year, and the fact that those whose opinions I respect and read so often continue to raise their views about these movies. I think the discussion of how superhero stories are told now and what they reflect on our current perceptions warrants devoting some attention to “Madoka Magica” for the ideas it brings to the table.
    In all honesty, I believe Zac Bertschy from Anime News Network does a much better job of reviewing this series than I do. He sums it up best in his final review: “If ‘Madoka Magica’ is saying anything, it’s saying that life will absolutely crush you and entropy is inevitable, but there’s reason to hope. That wishing for your loved ones to be safe and fighting for the things you believe in is the most important thing a human being can hope to do, even in the face of all that. If that isn’t a happy ending, then I don’t know what is.”
    I found the promotional material, opening song and closing song for the first two episodes very misleading about the actual tone of the series. (The closing song for episode 3 and on ward gets it right.) This AMV (Anime Music Video) does much better job of illustrating the feel of the show:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ8JRfsurt4
    “Madoka Magica” is available on Hulu and Crunchyroll.
    Zac Bertschy’s reviews can be found here:
    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/review/puella-magi-madoka-magica
    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/review/puella-magi-madoka-magica/limited-edition-blu-ray-vol-2
    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/review/puella-magi-madoka-magica/vol-3

  8. julian the emperor

    “Many of the female directors I admire — Kathryn Bigelow, Jane Campion, Kimberly Pierce, Alison Anders, Courtney Hunt, Debra Granik all are not afraid to tell dark, interesting, visually arresting stories. It just so happens that the male dominated community of critics, and audiences, are receptive to their work. But would any of these movies by these directors get anywhere near the Greatest Films of All Time list? Nope.”

    Well, all directors from the last 30 years ought to feel neglected by The Great List. There are no Malick, no Wenders, no Haneke, no Almodovar, no Von Trier, no Mike Leigh, and the list goes on and on and on…. Those are bigger names than the women you mention. So the problem is not so much whether there are films made by women that ought to be on that list, but the fact that the profile of women directors are curiously lacking in comparison to their male counterparts. They are not even in the conversation of being on the Great List, as far as I see it. I mean, Anders or Hunt over Almodovar or Haneke? Never.

    So, to echo something I have been saying before: There are so many women who have made a lasting impact in the world of music and literature, but not many in the world of film. Music and literature are largely INTROSPECTIVE endeavors. They are less concerned with EXTERNAL factors when it comes to producing works of art.
    I think that the fact that movie productions involve so many people and so many practical obstacles make a director more like a “boss” who enables everybody on set to do their best. Like it or not, that is, traditionally, but far from necessarily, a typical male trait (or rather, a socially expected trait in a man).

    I think this “external” part of the process of moviemaking explains the lack of women directors to a large degree.

    Even in 2012?
    Well, we are, after all, shaped by a huge set of culturally transmitted preconceptions and notions that are hard to get rid of, even if people agree on their contingency.

    But, no one in their right mind would argue that women are ESSENTIALLY inferior at making movies than men. Which is another way of saying that everyone should agree that their ought to be more prominent female directors around. Then, maybe, one day, they will have a shot at claiming their rightful spot in that coveted list.

    As of now, there really are not many candidates: Varda, maybe Campion (if The Piano still seems stunning in 25 years’ time).

  9. Another thing that makes me sad is the best actress category. It looks by far the weakest and least interesting of the 4 acting races in 2013. From the presumed main candidates, only Beasts and AK (which I don’t know if will be well received) have a woman as the maps character.

  10. julian the emperor

    Why does it look weak, per se, JP? Just because there are no obvious Oscar-baity roles this year? I say; what a relief! This will make it a real race, you know. It could open the doors for almost anyone. Maybe even quality stuff. We should be so lucky.

    When I look at most contender trackers so far (the one at InContention for example) I think, wow, interesting. Swinton or Dunst would have had a shot this time around (now that the bait and the hype candidates are seemingly done with; read: Streep, Williams, Mara, Close)

  11. “One thing that continues to confuse me is how it happened that the stories of male action heroes became the dominant narratives of our time. Women make up 51 percent of the population, but our stories don’t really seem to matter to Hollywood.”

    Don’t blame Hollywood, blame the public who go to the male action hero movies and make them money. Obviously the %51 of the women population is helping out with this. If these movies didn’t make money Hollywood would think twice about making them.

  12. Duck Soup

    Angel at My Table, Sweetie >>>>> Bright Star.

    Sasha, why u no mention Kelly Reichardt?! She’s one of the best film makers, male or female, out there and she is only getting better. Wendy and Lucy is a masterpiece and Meek’s Cutoff is close.

  13. julian the emperor

    Agree, duck soup. Kelly Reichardt (and Andrea Arnold, to add another), to me, are more interesting filmmakers than the ones mentioned in the post.

  14. rufussondheim

    Justin hit the nail on the head. Blame the moviegoers. There are enough female-helmed and driven movies out there. Audiences are choosing not to see them. Audiences get what they pay for, and since the are willing to pay for crap then crap they get.

    It’s not entirely dissimilar to the American Public when it comes to voting. I here over and over again that people don’t vote because it doesn’t matter, people say the two parties are the same and it’s not worth the time to pick the lesser of two evils. OK fine, if you disagree with both parties vote third party even if they have no chance of winning. I can guarantee that if every non-voter chose a third party (even if they choose different third parties) that the Big 2 parties would listen and change their ways.

    You can’t shout at the wind and expect the wind to stop. YOu have to rally the crowds to build a big fucking fan to create a more powerful wind. But good luck with that.

  15. I dont think a Greatest Films of All time list would necessarily shift due to more prominence in film on the female perspective.
    Some particularly masculine-oriented films such as Taxi Driver could fall down the list, but the great films are up there mostly because they are great films. Regardless of whether they cater to male, female, or both audiences, they are great films.

    This kind of ranting is great and all (and it adds a theme to your blogs), but perspective is always needed, otherwise it could devolve into bias and vitriol. The truth is, most males and females I know tend to go and see gender-targeted films (regardless of quality), or big summer flicks. Most of the population arent interested in running to see arty flicks like The Master or Bright Star for instance, despite the male and female perspectives within, and have no clue about who is directing a film, let alone their gender.

    The people that do pay attention to cinema, and do know all the directors, they just want great films, and happily see female-targeted films if they are good.

  16. I also think it’s worth noting that Chantal Akerman’s “Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles” was at least on the top 50 of Sight & Sound’s list. Sure it’s sad that there’s still only one female director on the top 50 list, but it’s still worth mentioning especially considering what it was about and how it was filmed.

  17. Bennett

    A little off topic but any good work on Whitney Houston’s last film SPARKLE – written and directed by husband and wife team Salim and Mara Akil? Wasn’t there a screening in New York on the 16th?

Leave a Comment