“The next Kubrick, in no one’s mind, is a woman.” – Julie Delpy
TIFF has organized this short documentary and asked tonnes of industry professionals, including a glut of top female talent, why such an enormous gender disparity exists in film making (only 4% of directors are female).
The talking head interviews are culled extensively from the guest list of the 2015 festival, and include the likes of Toni Colette, Michael Moore, Patricia Clarkson, Judd Apatow, Mimi Leder, Paul Feig, Catherine Hardwicke, Angelica Huston, Jill Soloway, Mira Nair, and so many more.
Even as females slowly break through in producing, writing, and starring roles, the director’s chair remains elusive. Directing is a boy’s club, is run by a patriarchy. We are conditioned to think male when we think director. And if a woman is holding the megaphone, she effectively neuters herself in order to be taken seriously.
The documentary also touches on females being hired exclusively for “female”stories when in fact they long to tell a breadth of stories just like their male counterparts. Directing takes vision, shamelessness, openness, patience, and discernment – these are abilities that women are capable of. What it does not actually require: a penis. So why then were there more female directors in 1929 than there are today?
This documentary made me think about a female director we saw at TIFF – Hope Dickson Leach (The Levelling). She co-founded the initiative Raising Films, a campaign to make the film industry more parent-friendly. It’s certainly not a women-only concern, but it is a barrier to get more women on a film crew.
Sarah Solemani, star of Bridget Jones’s Baby, took the campaign to the red carpet when she broke out a sign reading ‘Budget the Baby’. She says “As an actor I can claim a massage or a facial but I can’t claim childcare. Actors are the most pampered people on sets. It’s the crews — the electricians, catering, camera people — who are often on set at 4am.” Hope Dickson Leach is a mother of two herself; you can imagine what a grueling 20 hour day on the set can mean to a family with young children.
The 4% is a small commitment – just 30 minutes of your time to enlighten yourself on a topic we should ALL be concerned about. It’s not just women who benefit from a more inclusive work place. They have stories and perspectives and voices that are distinct and worthy, and they need to be told and seen and heard. Equally.