FFFF: Attention Oscars: I’m a Woman

by | February 20, 2015
filed under FFFF, Pop Culture

CaptureThis year at the Oscars, of 26 individual Academy Award nominees for Directing, Cinematography, and Screenwriting, none are women. Kimberley Dalton Mitchell, Susan-Kate Heaney, Kim Kalish and their #allladycrew celebrate the history of female filmmakers and call out the Academy Awards for women’s continuing underrepresentation, in this music video:

h/t Women and Hollywood


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  • Jon Rouje

    It would help if I saw a good film that was directed by a female that I actually remember. Not to say that women don’t make good films. I’m in film school and I work with Plenty of women who are extremely talented (many with skills greater than my own). My point is that I don’t want affirmative action for female filmmakers. Do you? Nora Ephron is awesome, and Diablo Cody is my shit (didn’t she win an oscar for Juno?) Chill out. Make a good film. Team up with other women and get it distributed. I go to a school that is 80% women. Stop complaining and realize that in 2015 you live in the age of a double standard reversal and you can do almost anything you want. So go do it. PS this video is kinda cool. Make more.

    • Hi Jon. It’s too bad you can’t remember good films directed by women. Here are some suggestions: The Kids Are Alright, A Girl Walks Home At Night, The Babadook, Selma, Winter’s Bone, Water, An Education, Stories We Tell, Wadjda, Lost in Translation, American Splendor, Away From Her, Boys Don’t Cry, Frozen River, Little Miss Sunshine, City of God, The Piano, The Savages…

      But anyhow, saying women should just “make a good film” shows a lack of understanding of the power dynamics at Hollywood studios and the way the Academy Awards work.

      On the former, only 4.6% of Hollywood movies last year were directed by women. IMDb data estimates this year will be a modest improvement, at 6.6%. An LA Times study found the studio with the highest proportion of female directors was Sony, boosted by its specialty division, which produces and distributes lower-budget films. Women directors, by and large, aren’t given the same opportunities in Hollywood that men are. This is especially true looking at big budget action and adventure movies.

      One result is that we don’t see as many female-centric films. A San Diego State University study found that in films with at least one woman director and/or writer, women comprised 39 percent of protagonists. But in films with exclusively male directors and writers, women accounted for a mere 4 percent of protagonists.

      Only two female-centric films – “Ida” and “Alice” won Oscars last night. The San Diego study found that women comprised only 12 percent of protagonists in the 100 highest-grossing films of 2014. In 2013, that number was 3 percentage points higher, and in 2002 it was 4 points higher. Women in 2014 comprised just 30 percent of speaking characters. And 74 per cent of the women on screen were white.

      Female characters in these highest-grossing films are more likely to be young and less likely to be associated with a profession than male characters.

      Then there’s the Academy Awards. The Academy voters are not a representative group. In 2014 the Academy invited in new voters. 72 percent were men, 90 percent were white. Non-white women represented just five of the 245 people analyzed by Vox. Dr. Darnell Hunt, a sociology professor at UCLA had this to say: “We’re talking about structural racism, not individual level. It’s a structure that reproduces outcomes because of the people who occupy those positions of power…It’s not that there is a lack of political open-mindedness in members like actors. Structure does matter. In this case, structure is overriding.” It’s not that the voters are deliberately discriminating, but it’s not surprising that they’d respond more to movies that appeal to their tastes.

      There are very real barriers to women behind the scenes and to good representations of women in Hollywood. And very real barriers to the ones who are there receiving recognition equal to their male peers.

      This isn’t asking for affirmative action; it’s asking for equal opportunity.

      • Jon Rouje

        I agree with everything you’re saying. My comment about good films made by women was more specific to this year. However, even having said that: you have still blown me away with a list of films that I have not only watched many of, but am aware of in general (and have been meaning to see); that said, I wasn’t Aware they were directed by women (with the exception of Lost in Translation, A Girl Walks Home At Night, Winter’s Bone, and Stories We Tell).

        My point is that I live in a world where women use feminism as a shield and a weapon to attack men that are actually on their side. This is furthering the problem rather than helping to solve it. I am not accusing you of this. You have made many good points in a very calm and objective manner…

        I agree that women have stories that deserve to be told: women and men have different perspectives and there is value in that. But I fear that talking about it in this manner furthers the problem: turning it into a women vs men thing.

        To me it’s just about good stories told by human beings (and the fact that they are women or men is not necessarily relevant to that except when you are considering specific perspectives that relate specifically to the gender of the person telling the story). I fear that this is one of those things that may only be healed through time. Hollywood is run by old men, with old value systems. They will eventually die.

        I was referring to independent filmmaking, and working Outside of the power dynamics of Hollywood studios. Digital mediums have opened up an entirely new realm of possibility.

        Some of your statistics fail to take into account the gender of the person writing or directing the film in relation to the gender of the protagonist. What I mean by that is this: is it not wrong or insulting (or simply difficult) for a man to write or direct a movie about a female character? How can he possibly know what she is thinking or feeling: he is a man, and vice versa.
        I have put great efforts into writing female characters. But all of my professors insist that I should focus on a male protagonist: including my female professors. Characters are aspects of ourselves. A protagonist is very likely to be the greatest mirror or who we are. With the exception of James Cameron I can’t think of many men who have written truly great female characters. But again, I may be forgetting a few. Mind you, I’m not doing the kind of extensive research you are. I’m just thinking of what comes to mind in the hopes that it may help shed light on this issue.

        Really, I just hope more young women realize that the young men at their side were raised by strong mothers, and taught well. We are on your side, I am on your side: we must recognize our differences and that there is power in that. If we work together: many things can be accomplished.

        But as it is. I go to classes that are all women: except for me and one other guy who is always gay (nothing against that, I’m just illustrating a point). And in these classes: all I see and hear are short-haired women shitting on men. This is my experience. This is my sphere. This is my realm. Where I exist I am the minority. I am disregarded. I am shut out.

        I don’t understand women. I could spend my whole life trying. But women don’t understand men either. And a lot of women I meet make a great deal of assumptions that are very cruel and often push good men to become the assholes they accuse them of being.

        I guess I’m just saying that women and men could stand to agree to disagree a little more: and work towards a compromise. It will never be perfect. But I’m trying.

        I feel like you are too.
        And I’m glad you responded in the manner you did.

        Thank you.