It’s award season once again, the nominations are in, and it’s still very white and male-dominated.
Here we are in the year 2020, and there is still lack of stories being recognized from anyone who isn’t in those two categories. The problem isn’t that there are no contenders. This year we had “Hustlers,” “The Farewell,” “Little Women,” “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” “Midsommar” and so many more films directed by women and starring women. So why are we not seeing praise for these films? They didn’t receive terrible reviews. Many of them have gotten high praise. The problem is that we do not see stories about women by women as universal or valuable. Greta Gerwig talked about the issue of women’s stories being told, saying it’s the “process of convincing people that financing movies about women is not a bad investment.” Studios have to be convinced that women’s stories have more value than their bodies being in some blockbuster film about another man saving the world. If we want the studios to fund stories about women with women involved behind the scenes, then we have to watch and review those movies. Here are a couple of creatives to look for when browsing for your next movie night.
Ava Duvernay is a writer, director, producer and film distributor. She’s best known for her directorial work on “SELMA,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” “When They See Us” and “13.” Her work comments on society to stir up strong emotions in her viewers. Her skill in combining art and activism to shine light on untold stories that allows vulnerability is exceptional. She’s received many awards, and each one is well deserved.
Her most known film, “The Farewell,” is based on her experience going to China to visit her dying grandmother who doesn’t know she’s ill. Through the cinematography and writing of the film, you really feel like you’re there with the family. It’s a beautiful bittersweet story that will have your crying at the end.
Started out by acting in small films, she’s best known for directing “Lady Bird” and “Little Women.” These movies are about young women finding themselves while going through difficult financial circumstances. “Little Women” does well with aligning the present and past of the girls’ life to show the growth and the strength in their core beliefs. Considering it’s an adaptation that has been done multiple times, it was able to have a fresh voice and discuss the issue of artists not owning their work, which is a modern problem. Greta should have received a best director nomination.
An actress, director and activist, Olivia is the woman behind “Booksmart,” a film about two senior girls realizing that they didn’t need to be all work and no play to get into great schools. When they figure out that they didn’t do anything out of their comfort zone, they decide to do it all the night before graduation. While this could have been a cheesy movie with no real plot, Olivia managed to tell several stories in one movie. Her ability to have one night be a story of discoveries in a way that doesn’t feel old is amazing. We can expect exceptional work from her in the future.
It seems Hollywood has acknowledged the lack of diverse stories but refuses to recognize any of the ones that exist. Studios are willing to occasionally support these stories if they are generalized and have big names involved, but the crew behind the scene will mostly be male — a face-value support. As viewers, we can only ask for and consume stories that show the studios we really do value diverse, creative voices.