Happy International Women’s Day everyone!
As a female movie fan and film critic, as well as someone who’s dabbled in filmmaking, I’d like to take the opportunity to talk about where we are in terms of female representation. I have lamented in my Oscars nomination musings that Hollywood once again ignored female filmmakers with the five directors nominated being ALL males.
It seems that after the historic Best Director wins for women directors back to back–Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) and Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog)–we are back to #OscarsSoMales once again. It’s disheartening considering there ARE terrific directorial works by women worthy of nominations, notably Sarah Polley (Women Talking) and Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Woman King).
STATS ON FEMALE REPRESENTATION IN HOLLYWOOD
Gina Prince-Bythewood on the set of The Woman King with Viola Davis
I know that Hollywood says they’re working on improving diversity, but let’s take a look at a few stats compiled by Women and Hollywood website:
1) Women account for 50% of moviegoers. (MPA 2019)
2) On the top 100 grossing films of 2019, women represented:
- 10.7% of directors
- 19.4% of writers
- 24.3% of producers
- 70.4% of casting directors
3) Kathryn Bigelow, Chloé Zhao, and Jane Campion are the only women to ever win the Academy Award for Best Director.
- Only seven women have ever been nominated (Lina Wertmüller, Campion, Sofia Coppola, Bigelow, Greta Gerwig, Zhao, and Emerald Fennell).
- Zhao is not only the first woman of color to be nominated in the section, but she is also the first woman of color to win.
- Campion is the only woman to be nominated in the category more than once (in 1994 for “The Piano” and 2022 for “The Power of the Dog”).
4) In 2018 “Mudbound’s” Rachel Morrison became the first woman ever nominated for the Academy Award for Cinematography.
5) During the 2019-2020 TV season:
- Women accounted for 30% of all creators, directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and directors of photography working on broadcast network, cable, and streaming programs
- The number of women creators (28%) marked a historic high
- 94% of the programs considered had no women directors of photography, 76% had no women directors, 81% had no women editors, 73% had no women creators
- 20% of female characters were Black, 5% were Latina, and 8% were Asian
So clearly we still have a long way to go in terms of female representation in Hollywood.
INTERVIEWS WITH FEMALE DIRECTORS
Here at FlixChatter, I always strive to champion female filmmakers’ works and I’d like to share some of my previous articles where I highlight their work, as well as interview posts where I had the privilege to chat with a few of my favorite female filmmakers:
Interview with writer/director Pamela B. Green – Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché
Interview with Debra Granik – Leave No Trace
Q&A with director Deepa Mehta – BEEBA BOYS
Interview with director Emily Ting – Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong
CELEBRATING FEMALE CREATORS ON FILM + TV
Here are past articles I’ve published highlighting my favorite works by women working in various parts of filmmaking in TV and Movies:
10 Favorite TV Series Created, Directed, or Written by Women
In appreciation for 5 great female DPs working today
10 Favorite Romantic Films Directed by Women
Five Romantic Dramas directed by women with POC leads worth staying in for on Valentine’s Week
One of the best film-related initiatives that you can participate in is the 52 Films By Women Challenge. I’ve been doing that for the past few years
I started the 52 Films By Women challenge on International Women’s Day a few years ago. Per Women In Film (WIF) organization, the basic rules are simple: watch 52 films directed by women within the course of one year. Share about the films you’re watching on social media, using the hashtag #52FilmsByWomen to spread the word, and get more people talking about the women filmmakers that don’t always get attention.
My 52-Films-By-Women Recap of 2021
REVIEWS OF RECENT FAVE MOVIES #DIRECTEDBYWOMEN
FEMALE-EMPOWERMENT WEBSITES WORTH CHECKING OUT
CherryPicks is your trusted source for movie and TV recommendations, reads, and reviews exclusively from female and non-binary critics. Created in 2018 by Miranda Bailey and Rebecca Odes who decided enough was enough with very little to no representation of the female and non-binary critical voice.
Women And Hollywood – Women and Hollywood educates, advocates, and agitates for gender diversity and inclusion in Hollywood and the global film industry. The site was founded in 2007 by Melissa Silverstein. On a daily basis, Women and Hollywood sets the standard, defines the conversation, fuels coverage, and reinforces messages throughout the specialized and mainstream media to call for gender parity.
Last but certainly not least, I simply have to give a shout-out to my friend Lillie Gardner whom I met at a Pitch Event at Catalyst Content Festival in Duluth last year. She pitched a phenomenal historical drama pilot for a series called Ruth Rising which focuses on three generations of scrappy Minnesota women fighting for the American dream by bootlegging alcohol during Prohibition.
Another project she’s working on that I hope would get off the ground soon is Allegra Sparkle’s Guide to the Great Composers (You Might Not Have Heard Of) – an Austin Film Festival-winning animated TV series for kids. The series aims to educate kids about women and other underrepresented composers and to offer an inclusive and entertaining history of classical music.
Hope you’re celebrating International Women’s Day today and continue to support #WOMENINFILM all week/month/year long!
7 thoughts on “Happy International Women’s Day! Musings on female representation in Hollywood + celebrating female filmmakers”
Hey Flixy, what an amazing collection of stats and lists you have here! Very compelling. I don’t usually concern myself with gender situations, but love this post. What prompted me to comment was Ruth Rising. Not just that it included your name in the title but that I’ll always remember my dad telling me he had a cousin who drove cars carrying bootleg liquor during Prohibition. He said she succeeded because no one would ever expect a woman to be involved. Don’t ever underestimate the power of women and expect the unexpected from them! I really hope Lillie gets her project off the ground. Again, what a great post 😉
Hi Becky! Thanks for checking out my post and your kind words 🙂
Yeah, Ruth Rising is a fascinating story indeed, I wish Lillie had won the pitch competition as I’d love to see that as a series or movie!
“Don’t ever underestimate the power of women and expect the unexpected from them!” Indeed, and I love intergenerational stories, esp something involving Minnesota history.
Women filmmakers still don’t get much respect. I try to watch as many as I can while also giving praise as I went searching on Fandango for the new Kelly Reichardt film only to realize it’s coming later next month as I hope to see it to get back to working on my Auteurs essay on her which had been delayed for nearly 3 years due to personal reasons and the pandemic.
I just saw the new episode of The Mandalorian which was helmed by Rachel Morrison as I enjoyed it but IGN’s review complained about how dark it looked as I had no problem with it. I thought Morrison did an amazing job.
I know you’ve been championing female filmmakers and female leads, Steven, keep up the great work!
Yes!!! I just saw the 2nd episode and was thrilled to see Rachel Morrison’s name as the director. No, I don’t think it looked too dark, in fact I thought the visuals were gorgeous and the cave scenes were quite terrifying!
It’s a shame how Hollywood has been around for so long yet they still won’t give women behind the cameras the opportunities to work on major projects. I wish more prominent male directors would hire female DPs to work on their films so they can jump into the director’s chair once they get more experience. Spike Lee is the only major film director that hires female talents behind the cameras. I want to see someone like Nolan, Spielberg, Cameron, Fincher and other well known male directors hired more female talents to work on their big films.
Yeah, I think sexism is a much worse issue than racism in Hollywood. The patriarchy and misogynistic attitude are hard to shake so it’s very much still a male-dominated industry.
I agree that big-name directors like those you mentioned ought to do better about female representation, as a lot of young filmmakers look up to them.
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