Women and Kathryn Bigelow – the first

Women are 51% of world’s population and according to Motion Picture Association of America even more, 52%, of moviegoers – individuals who go to the cinema once a month or more1. Although there is a balance between genders, and women make even larger part of the society, does it mean that women are on and behind the silver screen as often as men? To what extent does gender equality exist in the modern film industry? After analyzing the gathered data it is clear to me that the film society is balanced in a low degree.Women and Hollywood is an organisation founded by Melissa Silverstein in 2007 to educate and support the diversity of gender in Hollywood as well as internationally. Their online site makes it possible to compare statistics from last ten years gathered by Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, MPAA and many other sources. Observing data and information from 2017 I found out that “women comprised 18% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers.”2 in 250 top-grossing movies. That result is only 1% higher than from previous year and moreover, when it seems that the role of women increased in the last decade the same outcome was noted in 1998. That is to say, employment of women in film industry remained constant for the last ten years. To gain more information about the chosen topic I decided that a good measurement of success, popularity and appreciation of female filmmakers are various film festivals. I selected The Academy Awards also known as Oscars, British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards, The Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Movie Awards and finally The Film Independent Spirit Awards also known as Spirit Awards. Starting with the Oscars I focused mainly on awards for directing. The first Academy Awards gala was held on May 16 of 1928 yet since that year only four women were nominated in the Best Director category. The first nomination, in 1976, that is on 49th Academy Awards, was given to Lina Wertmüller for her film Seven Beauties. Afterwards consecutively in years 1993, 2003 and 2009 were conferred on Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow – the first and only female director who for her famous film, The Hurt Locker, won the award in that category. Furthermore, I would like to acknowledge that Best Cinematography award also given since the establishment of the Oscars is the only category in which woman was never nominated. This drew my attention to other awards and I discovered that for almost 90 years the Best Picture award was avowed to 11 women – each of them coworking with men. As reported by New York Film Academy in 2013 77% of voters were male which might affect the final results of the festival. This source to additionally depicts the difference in nominations caused by gender refers to 85th Academy Awards when in 19 categories 140 men and only 35 women were nominated. To be nominated film have to meet certain requirements – they have to last over 40 minutes, be projected in a cinema on paid screenings for at least seven days and have premiered in Los Angeles before the previous year ends. Those specifications limit the films which can seek to be nominated so I chose to confront the Academy Awards with other festivals. British Academy of Film and Television Arts supports forms of moving image – from television to films. The only requirement is not the British origin of the film but the film had to be projected in British cinemas. BAFTA has 71 years of tradition yet the first woman, Sofia Coppola for her film Lost in Translation, was nominated in 2003. Six years later Kathryn Bigelow again overcame the sexual domination by winning the award with The Hurt Locker. In 2011 nomination went to Lynne Ramsay and a year later Kathryn Bigelow received her second nomination, this time for her work Zero Dark Thirty. Since 2012 no female director was nominated in that category. The Golden Globes 75th ceremony took place recently – on January 7 of 2018. In directing category only five female names were ever mentioned and, again, only one woman won the award. Barbra Streisand received a Golden Globe for Yentl in 1983. Until now Ava DuVernay, Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow were nominated but no other woman was given the award. Critics’ Choice Movie Awards are rewards given for film achievements since 1996. Despite the shortest history, relatively more women can be spotted across the nominees and winners. The first woman nominated was Sofia Coppola while the only award was given to nominated twice Kathryn Bigelow. Other nominations were given to, among others, Ava DuVernay and Angelina Jolie. Few women across the nomination could be a result of the small contribution of females in film society yet Spirit Awards confirmed otherwise. As its name suggests the awards are intended for independent films. The tradition started in 1984 and since then in directing category two women received the prize. First of them was Martha Coolidge for Rambling Rose and the second one was Sofia Coppola and her film Lost in Translation. Joyce Chopra, Nancy Savoca, Allison Anders, Nicole Holofcener, Karen Moncrieff, Tamara Jenkins, Lisa Cholodenko, Julia Loktev, Ava DuVernay, Andrea Arnold, Chloé Zhao – all those women were once nominated. Much larger yet still not equal amount in comparison to male filmmakers suggests that women in film industry exist yet to focus on less commercialized genres like independent films and documents. This fact is easily confirmed by statistics of Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film gathered in The Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women on the Top 100, 250, and 500 Films of 2017 by Martha M. Lauzen. This work clearly demonstrates that 30% of women employed in this industry works on documentaries. Again referring to the research of NYFA a 10,6% increase in the number of female characters was noted when a director is a woman. It drew my attention to the apportionment of dialogue in films. A great source of data about this subject is Film Dialogue from 2,000 screenplays, Broken Down by Gender and Age by Hanah Anderson and Matt Daniels from April of 2016. I found the list of 10 top-grossing films directed by women on Women and Hollywood and found the films in Film Dialogue database. Unfortunately, some of those films, including Wonder Woman directed by Patty Jenkins, were not included in the database because of their release after making of the list or a limited number of compared scripts included in the study. In the second place, we can find Frozen co-directed by Jennifer Lee. Famous Disney’s animation focused on two female characters includes 57% of lines said by male characters and 43% by female ones. The balance is preserved yet I find it shocking that women have fewer dialogues despite two protagonists being females. The third place on the list is covered by Shrek co-directed by Vicky Jenson where women’s lines account for 16% of the script. Twilight, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, was placed in the fifth position on the list.  The protagonist of the films says the biggest amount of words – 4 934 balancing the diversity of dialogue to 48% women’s lines and 52% men’s lines. The list is closed by The Proposal by Anne Fletcher where female characters say 53% of the dialogue. Then again, those films also belong to a certain type so I compared, previously mentioned, films awarded by film society. The memorable The Hurt Locker labelled as drama/history/thriller tells a story of a Sergeant during the Iraq War. Unfortunately, war movies rarely include women and this is not an exception. There are no female character, therefore, no female’s lines. However, the second famous film of Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty, also nominated on many festivals has 62% of men’s dialogue and 38% of it is said by women. Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation swiftly balances the dialogues by gender – 54% of words are said by females and 46% by men. Movie of mentioned earlier Ava DuVernay titled Selma has only 10% of dialogues said by women, on the other hand, The Piano directed by Jane Campion has 40%. In conclusion, it is hard to clearly determine if there is any kind of correlation between female director and number of female characters on the screen since the data were too varied – some of those directors try to make the genders equal and others focus on different aspects of the film.Considering the subject more generally as reported by USC Annenberg in 2016 only 31,4% of female characters spoke on the screen3. Looking at statistics from 2007 to 2015 it is clear that this trend remains constant while reaching its peak of 32,8% in 2008/2009 and its low of 28,1% in 2014. Comparing the data about the number of women speaking on screen broke down by movie genre it is evident that adventure/action movies as well as animations in years 2007 to 2010 remain on the same level while in comedy between 2010 and 2016 there was noted a 10% increase.While analysing the role of women in scripts another notable thing to mention is the Bechdel Test. To pass the test the movie “has to have at least two women in it, who talk to each other, about something besides a man” 4. Those criteria seem easy yet many films fail the Bechdel Test. Hollywood’s gender divide and its effect on films: Examining the gender of writers, producers, and director who make films that fail the Bechdel test by Lyle Friedman, Matt Daniels and Ilia Blinderman compared the 200 top-grossing films from years 1995-2015 and divided chosen movies into three groups: those in which all of the writers were male, those in which between the writers was at least one women and those that were completely written by women. It is not surprising that amongst those few films written by women 100% passed the Bechdel Test. In movies with at least one female writer this result drops to 62% and in all-male writing groups, it decreased to only 47%. Moreover, the data included directors who may always slightly influence the test results. It showed that 41% of films made by male directors failed the test whereas only 10% of films directed by women did. This test is a measurable way of checking the importance of female characters in films nonetheless it is a bit subjective. Movies like Run Lola Run or Breakfast at Tiffany’s fail this test, while for example Machete Kills despite sexualising women on every step passes it. With that in mind, the Bechdel Test should not be the only answer to question how women are treated in film.Another film plague is objectifying women. According to studies among top films of 2016 10,7% of women were referenced as attractive (in comparison to 3,2% of men), 25,9% were shown in a sexy attire (by contrast to only 5,7% of men characters) and 25,6% of female characters were shown with some nudity (compared to 9,2% of men*). Those data clearly show how often women are treated not as characters but more of pretty requisites. It is worth mentioning how rarely protagonist of the movie is female. In top 100 films from 2016 women accounted for 29% of main characters5. To measure this I decided to look through current offers of commercial cinemas. I found 25 films available from which 2 had a female protagonist and hardly 7 had women in the main characters’ team.All things considered, despite the higher percentage of women amongst moviegoers female filmmakers make less than 20% of employees working on known, top-grossing productions. Women do not have an opportunity of being satisfied filmmakers on the commercial market what is illustrated by a low number of awards or even nominations granted to women on film festivals. For that reason, female filmmakers have to pursue their profession in independent movies and documentaries. Female characters not protected by female producers, directors and writers are oversexualised and make up less than ? of characters. Furthermore unfortunate data in most of those cases has remained constant in the past decade. As shown above, the cellulite ceiling is still present and so the gender equality in the modern film industry is present only to a small extent. *However it is worth mentioning that ‘partial nudity’ includes being shirtless what is perceived differently by society in men’s and women’s cases. This makes the statistic slightly distorted.  1 Motion Picture Association of America, Theatrical Market Statistics2 Women and Hollywood, 2017 Statistics: Women behind the scenes 3 Stacy L. Smith, Marc Choueiti, Katherine Pepier, Inequality in 900 Popular Films: Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race/Ethnicity, LGBT and Disability from 2007-20164 5 Women and Hollywood, Facts to know about women in Hollywood


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