Is Sex Equality on the Cutting Room Floor?

1134604 - Zero Dark ThirtyIt’s been over forty years since equal rights for women were put into place, and since then women have proven their worth in the most testosterone filled professions. They’ve ruled over countries, they’ve dominated the world of modern literature and taken over boardrooms across the western world. Yet it appears Hollywood remains a man’s world.

The Celluloid Ceiling report released earlier this week revealed that in 2013 women accounted for a mere 16% of Hollywood filmmakers and the number of female directors responsible for the top films currently being exported from the film factory was down 3% from 2012. These findings show that female contribution to the production of the top 250 grossing films is currently the lowest ever recorded by the Centre for the Study of Women in Television and Film.

These findings by Dr Martha Lauzen, executive director of the research centre which was set up in 1998, show that while modern attitudes are being portrayed on screen, behind them it’s a very different story.

“The film industry is in a state of gender inertia,” claims Dr Martha Lauzen. “There is no evidence to suggest that women’s employment has improved in key behind-the-scenes roles over the last 16 years.”

The forthcoming season of award ceremonies that will take place over the coming months will no doubt continue to highlight this, after the Golden Globe Awards last week sparked outrage at the lack of opportunities offered to women in the film industry off the screen.

NEEOyUEtPCaKIM_1_1However, onscreen it is women at the centre. In 2013 the movies that passed the Bechdel test – films that centre on two female protagonists without men being the main focus – were more successful at the box office than those that didn’t. The rise of the heroine as opposed to the hero last year also boosted box office figures somewhat with the release of the hugely popular The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen. The latter of which was directed by a member of that rare breed of female Hollywood directors, Jennifer Lee. Other notable films of 2013 include Carrie, directed by Kimberly Peirce, and Black Nativity directed by Kasi Lemmons. However we’re unlikely to see a woman collect an award for best director in the near future, especially with Hollywood’s current attitude towards women in the industry which remains as modern as a silent film.

It was director Kathryn Bigelow – director of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty – who famously became the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Director in 2010 – piping James Cameron to the post – and more recently French filmmaker Laure Prouvost won the coveted Turner Prize, the UK’s most prestigious arts award in December. Despite this the fact remains that during the last 34 years only six women have been nominated to receive a Golden Globe in the Best Director category; with even fewer for the Oscars.

The real question is why has it taken so long for women to gain influence in the film industry off the screen? Undoubtedly this is in part down to social values. It’s only recently that traditional, outdated expectations of women’s roles in society has changed along with Hollywood’s, again, outdated view of women and their suitability to less responsible roles in the production process. But essentially at the heart of the issue is the fact that Hollywood is the Gentleman’s Club of the modern arts. Surely its time this changed…

Source: TIME

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