As much of a trailblazer Hollywood has been in some social issues, it’s still woefully stuck in the past when it comes to many of them. The considerable lack of women TV and film directors within the industry is a very pressing concern. Even with the recent critical and box-office successes of female directors, like Kathrine Bigelow’s Oscar win for “The Hurt Locker” or Catherine Hardwicke’s financial success with “Twilight”, only 14% of TV shows and 3-4% of films are directed by women, despite the fact that women are 51% of the US population. Bloomberg’s half-hour documentary “Celluloid Ceilings” touchingly exposes the still-prevalent sexism and blatant discrimination against female directors through heartfelt interviews with some of the most successful women directors in Hollywood and enraging statistics about the lack of women in the industry, some of which are outlined above.
It’s not like the sexism is subtle, even today. All of the directors interviewed for the documentary have horror stories about executives or producers directly telling them that they can’t do a good job simply because they’re women. Martha Coolidge (“Real Genius”) talks about her directing gigs in the 70s, where men refused to take orders from her because of her gender, and she specifies that things haven’t changed much today. In fact, the industry apparently still didn’t take Coolidge seriously as a director even after she was the president of the DGA. Let that one sink in for a minute.
Lexi Alexander, who helmed one of the most balls-to-the-wall entertaining hardcore comic book movies of all time with “Punisher: War Zone,” is so disillusioned with the lack of respect and quality work for women directors, that her first impulse when an aspiring young female director asks her for advice is to tell her to “Run like hell in the other direction.” This is an impeccably paced, infuriating, and passionate documentary that is an essential viewing. You can watch “Celluloid Ceilings” below.