I read an article at the beginning of the year (http://womeninfilm.org/52-films/) about a campaign which involved watching a film a week directed by a woman. The intention was to gain female film makers around the world some recognition, and simultaneously draw to attention the astounding gender inequality in the film industry. This seemed like an easy NY resolution...
Since the beginning of 2014 (I take my resolutions pretty seriously) I've been writing down the name, director, and year of release of every film I watch. At the end of 2015, I had over 250 films, directors, and dates accounted for. So on average I watched roughly 2.40384615 films a week.
Now here comes the scary bit... when I counted up how many of those 250 had been directed by women, I was just a bit disappointed (feminist, cinephile, lady lover). I knew the statistics were low, but I study film.
21 films were directed by women.
One in ten.
When I thought about how many movies I'd watched about women, for women, of women... why haven't women been able to tell the story themselves? Even films like the recent release The Duke Of Burgundy, in which not a single man is seen in a story which revolves around the very intimate fetishes between a lesbian couple. When the number of men:women who attend film school is pretty much even now.. why is it so hard for a woman to gain a voice? (Not saying Peter Strickland didn't do a great job, because that film is beautiful).
Well in case you're wondering, here are a few explanations:
1) The cinema industry has been controlled (much like politics and, let's see... general life) by white men since its origins. Men can't possibly 'connect' with female workers, thus the people at the top favor men, and women are left fighting their way up the very greedy food chain. This is otherwise known as The Patriarchy. (I gave it capital letters, now it sort of looks like the title of an up-and-coming psychological horror.)
2) Although having been disproved numerous times, a myth nonetheless still circulates that young boys are able to related to on-screen men, but not women. Yet young girls are, fortunately enough, able to identify with both. Therefore, it makes sense that the majority of protagonists are male, which must require a male director, right?
3) Risk. Because so few women have been able to direct blockbuster Hollywood movies, the men at the top see investing in them as a huge financial risk - if it's a flop, it'll be women-film makers fault. No pressure.
4) History details that pretty much all classic films were directed by men, for men to see men doing manly things and for women to look sexy and probably tempt the men into doing something naughty and disrupt the plot for a bit. And now these hot temptresses want to make their own movies? But then the women on screen might have some sort of autonomy! The horror!
The list goes on.
I've decided to show my support, and somehow change my movie-viewing habits, and re-think the way I read cinema; breaking through the hegemonic lure of the male gaze, to decode female aesthetics, and maybe even re-address female aesthetics completely. To spur me along I'll be writing my thoughts on some of the female-directed films I watch each week here. As well as giving you some ideas about what female-directed films to watch next.
I'll also be watching & highlighting films by POC/LGBT women, who are also very underrepresented in Hollywood.