Take a Stand for Female Directors With This New Pledge
It’s another year, and with it comes another wave of faux outrage over the distinct lack of diversity throughout Hollywood. Sure, there’s the occasional wave of overexcitement when the world’s gravitational axis is thrown off kilter, leading Hollywood to reward a small handful of non-white male directors with award nominations. The problem, though, is that these nominees are representative of a larger issue within Hollywood. According to stats from 2013 and 2014, an astounding 82.4% of film directors were white men. While only 11.2% were nonwhite men, 5.1% were white women, and a shocking 1.3% were women of color. Do you know how many movies are made each year? A fuckton. Tens of thousands of movies are made and dispersed across screens, yet not even one tenth of them are directed by women. With that in mind, can we really be surprised by the lack of diversity at award shows? I’m not too sure.
Award season isn’t over yet, but judging by the nominations announced so far, we’re not in for a miracle year for female directors. How bad is it so far this year for female directing nominees? Zero at the Golden Globes, zero at the Independent Spirit Awards, and zero at the BAFTAs. The only hope for even the tiniest victory for female directors comes from nominations of Marielle Heller, for her critically acclaimed directorial debut, The Diary of a Teenage Girl. Hollywood award shows continue to look more like a gentleman’s club than reality, despite the fact that female directors do exist—and they kickass at what they do. In the past year alone, films like Girlhood by Celine Sciamma, Suffragette by Sarah Gavron, Mustang by Deniz Gamze Ergüven, and Angelina Jolie’s By the Sea (it didn’t get a lot of critical love, but it was still a big deal) and so many others, have made a splash. Meanwhile, female documentarians continue to excel in the one field they maintain annual praise and nominations for.
There are so many problems with the clear lack of support for female directors that I could film an anthology of me reading them aloud, à la Trapped in the Closet Part 1-4208. Luckily for movie fans everywhere, the crew over at Women in Film (WIF) have devised a plan to bring some much-needed support to female directors throughout cinematic history—and they want you to join them.
Every week in 2016, they are asking movie fans to take a pledge to watch at least one film by a female director through their #52FilmsByWomen campaign. If you look through decades of history, it’s clear that there have been a ton of female directors. The problem is that they’ve consistently lacked access to high-profile movie projects, or even exposure for their own films.
“There are over one thousand female directors on The Director List, 1300 female directors at the DGA and 45 who have helmed a $25 million movie in the last 13 years,” they write on their website. “We believe that #52FilmsByWomen is a fun way to bring attention to the many talented female filmmakers around the world, and a great way to spark a creative and interactive conversation.”
If you’re as frustrated as we are, head over to their website, and pledge to watch a film a week. This isn’t Oprah’s Book Club or anything, so you can watch any film you want. But three weeks into the year, you’ll need to play catch up. Here are some recommendations.
Stay tuned to Milk for more women in film.
Images and video via FilmDistrict, Sony Picture Classics, Summit Entertainment, and NBC Universal.