Women filmmakers once again ignored at the awards

It’s that time of year again, when the celebrity magazines and breakfast TV shows like to get all in a fluster and talk about who looks best on the red carpet and which actress stole the award ceremony show for what the dress they wore.

But what should be the biggest question at the film award ceremonies this year, isn’t who wore it best? Or who’s got the best hairstyle? But, where are all the women film makers?

On Friday, BAFTA announced its nominees for this year’s awards and in the Best Director category there is not one woman on the list. Some may argue that this is simply because there aren’t many women filmmakers, but this is nonsense. A database of women who direct films, TV shows, music videos or commercials, The Director List, totals over a thousand women directors.

But in the history of the major awards ceremonies, woman have been starkly under-appreciated for their film making abilities. The exception being Kathryn Bigelow, who was the first and so far only woman to win the Best Director award at BAFTA, The Oscars and the Directors Guild of America, for The Hurt Locker, ironically a particularly macho story of a US military bomb disposal expert.

In order to try and counter the bias towards male directors and highlight the great work of women in the film industry, Women In Film (WIF) are encouraging movie lovers to pledge to watch 52 films directed by women in 2016, with the campaign #52FilmsByWomen.

Although the campaign is light hearted, the message behind it is vital. The under and misrepresentation of women in films has become painfully apparent in recent years. Devices such as the Bechdel test, which analyses the types of roles women play in movies and the revelations of massive pay disparity based on gender have all magnified the issue.

This is despite the fact that there is a lot of evidence that the stories of and by women can be just as or more profitable as those of their male counterparts. A study which looked at the 25 highest grossing movies of the year between 2006 and 2015, found that movies with a female lead made an average of over $45 million more profit than those with a male lead.

Despite this, in these movies women made up less than a third of speaking parts, out of a total of over 30,000 characters.

What all this suggests, is that there is a demand for women’s voices in film from the viewers and for the stories of all genders to be told and heard. So why not take up the #52FilmsByWomen challenge this year?

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