A realisation… and a new year resolution


Regular readers will be well aware that I like to get on my soapbox and bang to anyone willing (or indeed unwilling) to listen about the gender imbalance in film, both in front of and behind the camera. There is a deep-seated discrimination and stereotyping of women in the international film industry; the Celluloid Ceiling isn’t a myth, it’s a fact, supported by too-many-to-mention depressing stats. If you insist on qualitative evidence, consider that women comprised just 6% of all directors working in the top 250 films of 2013. That less than one-third of all speaking parts are female. How stereotyping is embedded into the system, with male characters outnumbering female characters as attorneys and judges (13 to 1), professors (16 to 1), and doctors (5 to 1). All in spite of the fact that almost half of film school graduates are women.

But I have a confession to make. Despite my soapbox protestations, in 2014, NONE of the films I reviewed on this blog were directed by a woman. Not a single one (disclaimer: I did watch female-directed films, I just didn’t write about them). I’m shamed by this admission, as I’m the first to advocate that change comes from the bottom up and that one of the solutions to the problem is the lack of media coverage women filmmakers receive. Although a film’s success isn’t assured by the presence of a female, it’s important to promote one that is, even if it’s only to inspire the next generation. There’s a clear understanding of this imbalance, and some moves towards ‘progress’ – for example, Nick James’ editorial in the November 2014 issue of Sight & Sound (The Equalizers) called for female critics within the magazines pages… a humble start yes, but a challenge to the male-oriented view on film, both internally and externally. Aside: funnily enough, there’s plenty of female film bloggers, but a quick glance through the publication reveals an 80/20 split, weighted in the male favour. Clearly the same voices that are heard at a grassroots level aren’t making it to the top.

That’s a long-winded way of getting to my resolution. In 2015, I pledge to review at least one female-directed film each month. It can be from any decade and in any genre. I appreciate that’s still a pretty lousy aim (and comes nowhere near close to Cinematic Fanatic’s vow to only watch films that are directed, co-directed, written or co-written by women) BUT it will be at least 12 more than I managed in 2014. Yes, I could make a more spectacular resolution, but I want to continue to write about what (let’s be honest) are likely to be male-directed classic and contemporary films because I am interested – and think there’s value in – examining and discussing the representation and depiction of women from a male perspective. Many of the constructs that were developed and cemented and set during celluloid’s earlier years helped to create, and indeed continue to influence, contemporary cinema. Also, I have a batch of them in my streaming queue.

My full (work) schedule permits more regular posting, and, despite my admiration of Movies Silently’s prolific output and organisational advice, I know that aiming for more than one post a week is a failure waiting to happen. As this is one resolution I’m determined to keep, the plan is to start small and see where the watching goes. So consider this a public declaration of a 2015 resolution. Film and review suggestions and ideas are strongly encouraged, and if any other film bloggers want to join in – well, the more the merrier.

Look out for the first review (Ida Lupino’s The Hitch-Hiker) in a few weeks…

15 thoughts on “A realisation… and a new year resolution

  1. A fine resolution! One thing that interests me about my own genre of focus (if I may) is that in the silent era, there were many strong female characters–arguably more so than in the ’30s, when those “you poor silly woman, if only you could think like a man!” representations starting popping up more and more. People like Colleen Moore and Clara Bow had a massive influence on pop culture. Men were still the majority of the people working on films, but women were often editors or other behind-the-scenes personnel, and Mary Pickford was one of the most powerful people in Hollywood very early on. I really don’t know what happened when the talkie era started. I’ll stop now. 😀

    1. Ranting very much encouraged here, especially if I completely agree 😉
      If I’m not mistaken, the first person to direct a narrative film was Alice Guy, she went on to over more than 400 shorts. I think the Hays Code must take much of the blame, at least in terms of representation – wanted everyone to fit into their neat, censor boxes. No room for independence.
      The Women Film Pioneers project is a great site, if you don’t already know of it: https://wfpp.cdrs.columbia.edu/

  2. Yay! Good on you to rise to the challenge. I’m looking forward to learning more about female directors.

    To comment on Lea S.’s thoughts… It’ll be interesting to see how many female directors from the silent era you profile vs. the sound era. From what I’ve read, women had greater career opportunities in pre-sound Hollywood, screenwriter Anita Loos being one example.

  3. How wonderful! I can’t wait to read what you’ll come up with… and maybe you gave me an idea for a special International Women’s Day post.

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