Summer is the perfect time for movie theater refuge. When your air-conditioning cruelly breaks in the middle of a heat wave, there is nothing better than fleeing to the movies to watch March of the Penguins (or was that just me?) However, The Wrap has revealed that out of 39 movies being released this summer, only one, Jupiter Down, is directed by a woman. Excuse me, CO-DIRECTED by a woman, Lana Wachowski with her brother, Andy.
In 2009, The New York Times published an article entitled Women in the Seats but Not Behind the Camera, which asserted that “The movie industry is failing women. And until the industry starts making serious changes, nothing is going to change.” It seems that that statement is still correct. Martha Lauzen, from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, told AFP that, “despite lots of talking, the problem of lack of women behind the camera was getting worse not better.”
Let’s take a moment to reflect: when was the last time you went to see a movie directed by a woman? Odds are it's been a while. Women directed only 6% of the top 250 grossing films in 2013. The problem is not that there are a lack of women directors, but rather they are not always given the opportunity to work on big budget films. 80% of films are seen in multiplexes, so if women are not directing films that end up there, they will likely not be seen.
A Forbes article about women filmmakers finding a place in the ‘indie world’, states that while film festival circuits serve as “a clear stepping stone for male directors to the big time and big dollars… Women struggle to get tapped for the big films, but are clearly more visible in the indie world where budgets are much smaller.”
Not only are women seemingly trapped in the indie circuit, but as Manohla Dargis revealed in her latest Memo to Hollywood series, "The great irony is that women are accused of making romantic comedies, as if it's a bad thing, but [(500) Days of Summer director] Marc Webb makes a romantic comedy and he gets Spider-Man [as his next project]. Are you kidding me? You cannot win.”
Dargis’ whole ‘memo', is amazing. It asks the simple question that I think everyone involved wants answered: “So … what’s up with not hiring women to direct movies? Is there something about double-X chromosomes that makes you squeamish? Are women biologically incapable of directing movies, especially the franchises that prop up the big studios year after year?”
Don’t believe me? Check out this handy dandy chart The Wrap created featuring “39 White guys, 2 African- American guys, 1 Latino guy, and one White lady”…
We should take a page out of Dargis' book and demand answers about women's place in Hollywood. Filmmakers, especially those who happen to have a vagina, please continue to make movies that excite, surprise, astound, shock, bewilder and inspire us, so that a future generation of women will remember that directing is not and never will be a boy's club.
Images courtesy of Tumblr, Fandor, and The Wrap