The last Article in our series “ The Next Generation of Films for Women.”
The 2013 Cannes Film Festival finally opened this week and despite my excitement I still can’t get over the lack of female filmmakers in the festival. Now granted this year they did manage to squeeze in one female director; her name is Valeria Bruni-Tedeschis and the film in competition is A Villa in Italy. Can this lack of diversity in festivals like Cannes and others be due to other mitigating factors? What’s causing women to get passed over? Are female moviegoers really to blame for female filmmakers not advancing?
Are female movie-goers really to blame for female filmmakers not advancing?
In researching this article I was shocked by how many comments written on the Internet about fickle female audiences. On the contrary (from what I’ve seen on LIH and other sites) women and men like watching “good” films that don’t denigrate them, to me that’s not being fickle but smart. Can you imagine paying your hard earned money on a film laced with sexist stereotypes? Yeah! It really takes the thrill out of going. Anyway, the comments I found about why female filmmakers are getting passed over claims it’s due to female moviegoers lack of interest in other genres of real complexity. They say women are typically drawn to romantic classic melodramas or romantic comedies. According to the New York Times one of the biggest hits last summer was Magic Mike.
“It caters to the kind of visual pleasure — the delight in ogling beautiful bodies in motion — that film theorists have long associated with the male gaze. And it tells what would have been, in an earlier era, the story of a woman, a good-hearted, hard-working striver selling sex appeal, pursuing dreams and looking for true love in difficult circumstances. The stuff of classic melodrama but with a hard-bodied hero in place of the softhearted heroine.”
I still haven’t seen Magic Mike and don’t intend to. The film was directed by Steven Soderbergh and starred Channing Tatum and was produced by Tatum as well. After Kathryn Bigelow The Hurt Locker and Catherine Hardwicke success with Twilight you would think female directors would be first in line to direct Twilight. Instead the franchise was taken over by male directors, which went on to gross more than the original film by Hardwicke. Based on these results one might imagine male directors are a safe bet for women moviegoers and vice versa. After all there’s no shortage of female directors in Hollywood so what’s the problem? Why aren’t more women directing films for men?
What’s causing women to get passed over?
Do you know what Hollywood fear most? Studio heads fear the loss of male audiences not female. In an article called, This Movie Gave me Cooties: Why There Are No Female Directors? It states,
“The first factor in the Hollywood gender battle is the fear of losing the demographic that makes a major tentpole release the most money- males ages 18-35. There’s a fear in the entire entertainment industry that men won’t consume works coming to them by female authors.”
With films like Bridesmaids and The Hurt Locker hopefully these myths will die. What we now know (from their success) if a good film is marketed well, male audiences will go see it. Today, the biggest argument being made (on behalf of female directors) is for film studios to make films geared toward women’s interest with women at the helm. In my opinion men and women should not be limited to one genre based on race or gender. In order for directors to succeed in the job market placing limitations on men and women won’t help. I will definitely agree there should be more films that appeal to women’s interest however it’s sexist to assume only women or men can produce them. In an article called Note to Studios: Stop Trying to Get The Boys Back and Chase the Women by Susan Cartsonis she states,
“Geraldine Laybourne, the founder of Nickelodeon, Oxygen and the Chairman of Alloy Entertainment. She told me that she feels that we need more female media company owners. In other words, women who have the power and support to “green light” material that is unique and speaks to the hearts and minds of women. Men who run the major media companies give the go-ahead to projects that speak to them most viscerally—and I have observed that the visceral overrules any number crunching a company engages in to predict success.”
Do you agree women need to own media companies in order for men and women to be respected equally both as moviegoers and producers? Could this anecdote change the amount of female directors in competition at the 2014 Cannes Films Festival?