Male directors may make up most of the film industry, but it’s the women who we truly look up to. Here’s a round-up of the women who have been breaking ground for years and inspire the next generation of superstar directors. Here come the girls…
When you think of great film director, who is the first to pop into your head? Scorsese? Spielberg? Tarantino? It’s not hard to think of the biggest names behind the camera. But despite making some phenomenal films, the fact that no women were your first guess is a major problem. And it’s not just you. Despite women making up more than 50% of the world’s population, out of 600 films released from 2007 to 2013 women directed only 1.9% of them.
However, there’s still hope. Female film directors have been making classics since World War II. From action to comedy to romance, there is some pretty amazingly talented women behind-the-scenes.
With Kathleen Kennedy, President of LucasFilm, recently saying how badly she wanted a female director for the blockbuster Star Wars series, we decided to round up our favourite female directors who could easily take on the challenge…
This supremely talented lady is synonymous with women in filmmaking. Responsible for films such as Point Break (starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze) and The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow has cemented herself as one of the leading directors in the industry today. In 2010, she made history when she became the first female to ever win the Academy Award for Best Director for The Hurt Locker. Her latest venture, Zero Dark Thirty was also nominated for several Academy Awards at this year’s ceremony, and already won actress Jessica Chastain a Golden Globe Award. All huge achievements that have propelled Bigelow into becoming one of the most respected directors in a category that has been dominated by males for years.
Daughter of one of the most famous filmmakers in history, Francis Ford Coppola, it is no surprise that Sofia Coppola has also followed in her father’s footsteps though by no means does it undermine her talent for directing. Her most famous credit to date, Lost in Translation, starring Scarlett Johansson (2003) earned Coppola an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. At the time, this marked Coppola as only the third female director to have ever been nominated in this category behind Lina Wertmüller and Jane Campion respectively.
Speaking of awards, Jane Campion must be pretty used to winning them by now. After notching up several awards for her short films, Campion’s feature film debut, Sweetie, proved her success extended towards feature films also. Her most famous film to date, The Piano, won three Academy Awards and saw Campion herself nominated as only the second female director be nominated in the Best Director category. Hardly surprising for a woman whose films have been described as ‘perhaps the fullest and truest way of being faithful to the reality of experiences.’ High praise indeed!
You may have heard of some of the films directed by the legendary Nora Ephron, such as When Harry Might Sally and Sleepless in Seattle which are both famous in their own right (who could forget that famous Meg Ryan scene?!). Her most recent success was Julie & Julia (starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams) which was the last film she directed before her death.
A wildly talented director, her films have generated much critical acclaim and numerous awards. Her most famous films, which include Salaam Bombay (1988) and Monsoon Wedding (2001) both picked up numerous awards as well as being nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award respectively. Her latest offering, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, starring Kate Hudson, Live Schreiber, and Keifer Sutherland is slated for release later this year.
Practically unknown prior to 2014, Ava has made a name for herself being the first African American female film director to have her film nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for her biopic of similarly glass ceiling breaker, Martin Luther King Jr., Selma. After uproar over not being nominated for Best Director for Selma – the nominees were all men – the public rallied around the talented director leading to a Barbie being made in her honour, covers of magazines worldwide and a push for her to direct Marvel’s first black lead superhero film, Black Panther. Though negotiations fell through, public support for the director is at an all-time high and we can’t wait to see what she does next.
If Colin Trevorrow can go from directing an indie rom-com to one of, if not THE biggest film of 2015, Jurassic World, we have no qualms that Nancy Meyers, Queen of the Rom-Com, could be up to the same challenge. Turn on the telly and it’s most likely you’ve seen this prolific woman’s work: The Parent Trap (baby Lindsay!), What Women Want, The Holiday, to name a few. Her signature clean aesthetic paired with her focus on the love lives of the upper middle class is recognisable to all and her ability to make the privileged lives of a few seem relatable and allow us to see humour in the ridiculous (found twins! A man hearing women’s thoughts!), it’s easy to see why she would be excellent in spearheading a franchise where the emotional moments are just as important as the action scenes.
Catherine has spoken out at the outright sexism she faces as a director, ‘I would try to get interviews on other films, and they would literally tell my agent, “Oh, we want to hire a man for that job.”‘ This is despite the fact that Catherine currently holds the record for the biggest opening of a film ever for a female director – for Twilight, you’ve heard of it? – and for directing critically acclaimed films like Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown. Twilight in particular was a watershed pop culture moment, and led to the careers of KStew, RPattz and Anna Kendrick alike. The fact that a talented director like Catherine hasn’t been offered any more work is indicative that a lot needs to be done before there is true equality in Hollywood.