When one thinks of films, what usually comes to mind are the names of men, no matter if it’s about the director or the main actor.
Women usually come to mind only when films about romance or comedy are talked about, in terms better known colloquially as “chick flicks”. The underrepresentation of women in the film industry has been a real and ongoing issue for many years, yet it has hardly been spoken about. The win of American director Kathryn Bigelow for the Academy Award for Best Director for “The Hurt Locker” was a unique triumph, but it wasn’t the talking point for the issue ultimately.
One reason for it is the lack of a strong voice from the women already working in the industry, because if no one has raised a question about it, then they wouldn’t have to either. Another could simply be the desire to stick to the status quo, because if something isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Last but not least could be perhaps there just aren’t enough women interested in working in the film industry for a change to happen.
However, not all is lost. For those that are aware of the issue and do want change to happen, recent attention within mainstream media points to some positive news. In the UK for example, the issue of gender imbalance has been highlighted in a short film “Shifting Focus” by producer Mara Manzolini, where prominent female voices from the film and television industry find themselves utterly wrong at predicting the percentage of women in the industry.
So far this year, there have been some pleasant news with regards to the success of women in film. Singaporean drama film “Pop Aye” premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, with writer and director Kirsten Tan winning a Special Jury Prize. It was her debut feature and the first Singaporean film selected to screen at the festival. American drama film “The Beguiled” premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, with writer and director Sofia Coppola picking up the award for Best Director. This made her only the second woman in the history of the festival to bag the prize. On top of that, the film features a cast of female actresses with the likes of Kirsten Dunst, Nicole Kidman and Elle Fanning.
Even within Hollywood, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this year invited 300 women from the film industry into its various branches, a very positive sign of change. Also, Patty Jenkins became the first woman to helm a superhero film, Wonder Woman, which naturally stars a woman in the leading role.
Last but not least, a most recent example to showcase a cast of female actresses comes in the form of horror flick “Annabelle: Creation“. While it may not have a women director, the strong performances by the actresses are enough to warrant the film a mention here.
As we look towards the end of 2017 and further ahead, we can hope that there is an increase in women being offered directing and acting jobs within the film industry and roles that aren’t restricted to just women in romantic comedies.
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