Women in Film: An Important Issue – movieScope
movieScope Editor Nikki Baughan explains why she believes that an issue devoted entirely to women in film and television is an important tool in the fight to close the industry’s gender gap.
As I write this, in the wake of the Academy Awards, host Seth Macfarlane stands accused of bringing a touch of old-fashioned misogyny to the ceremony. I would argue, however, that women being mostly absent in all categories yet again is far more damning than a couple of misguided jokes. Of course accusing the Oscars of sexism is—just like accusing Cannes—to entirely miss the point; that women are categorically under-represented across all sectors of the industry.
This isn’t just the lament of disgruntled feminists; it’s a cold, hard fact. The most recent Celluloid Ceiling report, published in January, showed that women comprised just 18 per cent of all directors, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors working on the USA’s 250 highest grossing films in 2012. Also published in January was Sundance and Women in Film LA’s study into Gender Disparity in the Film Industry, revealing that, while things may be slightly better in independent film, under 30 per cent of filmmakers selected for Sundance from 2002 to 2012 were women. There’s simply no arguing with figures like that, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out that a lack of diversity of any kind—be it gender, race, class, regional or any minority—robs the industry of the essential talent and variety of storytelling variety that’s crucial to its continuing health and vitality.
Obviously, being a woman, this is a subject close to my heart; that I’m frequently mistaken for the secretary is the thin end of the wedge of my experience with gender prejudice throughout my career. Indeed, I pull out some of the ridiculous letters I have received whenever I am in need of a chuckle. But this is not why we have put together this special issue devoted entirely to women in film and TV; rather, in the face of those miserable statistics and outdated opinions we want to highlight and celebrate the achievements of women across all sectors and regions. We spoke to myriad women for the issue; and not a single one was prepared to simply sit back and bemoan their lot; all were passionate and inspirational advocates for an industry they love, and more than happy to share their experiences. I can’t thank them enough—along with Birds Eye View, Women in Film and TV and the BFI—for their contributions and support.
Of course, there’s only so much we can do in 64 pages, but I hope this issue goes some way to proving that, while women may currently be a minority in the industry, they all deserve to be supported, respected and celebrated all year round—not just when International Women’s Day reminds us to. And not because they are women but because—like their male colleagues—they are damn good at their jobs. It’s because of them that we simply must confront this issue head on and work to change it, rather than simply complain whenever festivals and awards hold a mirror up to this woeful disparity. Male or female, filmmaker or viewer, we all stand to benefit