Women in Film.
Updated: Jun 19, 2019
Welcome to my blog and yes, I’m still here. I’ve been gone for a little while and I wanted to make a new post on International Women’s day (March 8th) but I was away in South-end, where I naively committed to walk up and down the world’s longest pier in the middle of a very, very windy march afternoon. Not to be dramatic but I wasn’t sure I'd make it back alive. I also went to a drive in cinema in the middle of nowhere to watch Bohemian Rhapsody. That was awesome. I definitely recommend going to a drive in movie if you get the chance, I went through https://www.moonbeamers.co.uk and I really enjoyed it.
But finally, I am home and I have found myself thinking that women deserve to be celebrated more than just one day a year. So according to my calendar, happy International Women’s day! (Again!)
As an advocate for both feminism and film, I am particularly interested in their combination, which is a topic I have studied thoroughly in my own time and the reality of which is actually pretty depressing. One thing is for sure though, we’re heading in the right direction. So in this post, I'm gonna go over why it’s so important for women to get more coverage and recognition in the film industry and then I’m gonna list off some of my favourite films that were either written by, directed by or featured a strong female lead.
Stick with me folks, this might be a long old post.
So why is it so important for women to be recognised and represented accurately in film?
Since its inception, the film making industry has been completely dominated by men in every sector, and that remains true today. But when 50% of the population and therefore 50% of all moviegoers are female, this imbalance of representation does not cut it. I won’t bore you with the obvious, but films written, directed and produced by men have a slim chance of accurately representing a female character or giving her any depth at all. The 'male-gaze' is unbearably apparent in blockbuster movies that we watch all the time, and the more I see it the more intolerant I'm becoming.
Im sure in this day and age we can all understand how problematic the lack of representation of female and ethnic minorities in the media is, but do you know quite how drastic it is on paper?
Below I have linked some interesting articles and quoted some shocking statistics on women in film:
“In 2018, women comprised 20% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films. […] Women accounted for 8% of directors.women comprised 16% of writers, 21% of executive producers, 26% of producers, 21% of editors, and 4% of cinematographers. […] The study also found that women accounted for 6% of composers, 6% of sound designers, and 10% of supervising sound editors.”
“Regarding race and ethnicity, the percentage of Black females increased from 16% in 2017 to 21% in 2018. The percentage of Latinas decreased from 7% in 2017 to 4% in 2018.”
“65% of all female characters were white in the top 100 films of 2018. 21% were Black, 10% were Asian, 4% were Latina, and 1% were of another race or ethnicity.” - https://womenandhollywood.com/resources/statistics/
“The worst was when my agent sent another woman director in for an interview, and afterwards the guy called up and said, 'Never send anyone again who I wouldn't want to fuck.'" - https://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/jan/31/female-film-makers
But why is it that there are so few women in film? It’s not that women don’t enjoy film; I worked at a cinema for a year or so and if anything I remember more women walking through the front doors than men. It’s not that they’re not studying it ; women now account for at least 34% of film and acting students. So, where and why are we losing these independent and talented women? Perhaps the problem is the audience and their values ; Nina Simone once said "An artist's duty, as far as I'm concerned, is to reflect the times." Perhaps its because women find it hard to pitch their ideas to a board of men who view the world from a different perspective, or perhaps it’s because they’re terrified of the discrimination that they are guaranteed to encounter from every angle of the film industry. Whatever the reason may be, it’s so important for women to march on for equality and here’s a few reasons why:
Women give other women access. Unsurprisingly, films with women directors and producers employ far more females within the production team and cast.
Variety. We’ve heard the stories of old white men for decades and we want something else now. A new perspective offers new avenues to explore within film. That’s not just women either. I want to hear the stories of women, transgender people, non-binary people, the LGBTQ+ community, disabled people, African- Americans, Latinos, Asians, Native - Americans - you get the gist. Let’s give minorities a voice.
Role Models are important. When I was about 12 years old, I watched Kathryn Bigelow give her speech as the first ever female Oscar winner for Best Director, and that really had a positive impact on me. We need more female idols in the film industry so that young girls can believe they have a fighting chance.
I’ve linked below some more statistics that make me feel like we’re heading in the right direction.
“A new study from San Diego State University's Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film found that 29 percent of the 100 highest-grossing domestic films of 2016 had female protagonists. That's an impressive 7 percent jump from 2015.” - https://www.glamour.com/story/leading-roles-for-women-in-movies-have-increased
“In 2018 “Mudbound’s” Rachel Morrison became the first woman ever nominated for the Academy Award for Cinematography.” - https://womenandhollywood.com/resources/statistics/
If you’ve got this far and you’re still reading, thank you for reading and for caring. Now enjoy the list below of some of my favourite movies that were either written by, directed by or starred a strong female lead.
(you probably know most of them but if any sound unfamiliar, give 'em a watch!)
Films directed by a woman:
Big - Penny Marshall
Lost in Translation - Sofia Coppola
Littles Miss Sunshine - Valerie Faris
You’ve Got Mail - Nora Ephron
Lady Bird - Greta Gerwig
Films written by a woman:
Thelma and Louise - Callie Khouri
When Harry Met Sally - Nora Ephron
The Shape of Water - Vanessa Taylor
Carol - Phyllis Nagy
Juno - Diablo Cody
Films with a strong female lead:
Hidden Figures - Taragi P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae
Fish Tank - Katie Jarvis
Alien - Sigourney Weaver
She’s The Man - Amanda Bynes
The Sound of Music - Julie Andrews
And finally, if you’re still here, well you need to get out more, but also, heres a couple of links to acceptance speeches by two very strong, very inspiring women, Viola Davis & Francis McDormand.
Thank you for reading,