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The Bigelow Effect – Why We Care

The Bigelow Effect - Why We Care

Why do we care about women’s presence in the awards race? Specifically, why do we care so much about a woman getting nominated for best director? That is a great question raised in an very well-written piece by a young woman director named Lindsay on the website Canonball. One thing she asks is if we have been left out of the awards for so long, why should we as women change what we do in order to fit in?

I love this piece as a wake up call to the tremendous amount of work that needs to be done in this field. Lindsay has wanted to be a director since she was 17 (I don’t know how old she is now.) But it took her until college and her own research to discover other role models out there for her vision. Now that just sucks. Any guy of 17 could just look around and see multiple male role models in abundance.

But not women. But then Bigelow won last year and now there was a different kind of female role model — an award winner. And that matters. It matters to the women who would never want to make a movie like Kathryn Bigelow, and it matters to the women desperate to be recognized in that genre.

So this year when it became clear that none of the women would make it to finals much less the championship, I couldn’t help but think how disappointed I was. I was disappointed because two of the ten films nominated for best picture made it to the finals but their coaches are only made it to the second string team. Granted, everyone’s (the prognosticators) front runner to win the award, Christopher Nolan, didn’t get his nomination either, but he was robbed (so they say) and Lisa Cholodenko and Debra Granik should just be happy to be included.


Facing the real facts, young women like Lindsay might not see another woman up for a nomination for another 82 years. I am hoping that we won’t have to wait that long but the statistics are not on our side. Tomorrow, Dr. Martha Lauzen will release her annual study on the percentage of women working in the top 250 films. The percentage of female directors has not budged from 7%. And that is down from 9% in 1998. Now I know that it takes a long time to feel the effects of change and maybe in 5 or 10 years we will get the percentage of women director up into the double digits. Should we be happy with that? I don’t think so. And should we be happy that we have one woman in the record books? Should we be nice girls and shut up? I don’t think so. And remember that because Kathryn Bigelow won for directing a war movie about male soldiers, we still have no female winner who has directed a movie about women. The Academy had a chance to do that this year — actually two chances — and it passed.

I do care. As does Lindsay, as should you. I care because I want little girls to see that they can be directors (or anything else that society keeps telling them they can be), and I care because I want little boys to know that they are not the only out there up for these jobs. I care because everybody’s vision matters, and I care because I want Lindsay to fulfill her dream.

Should Women Even Care About the Best Director Oscar? (Canonball)

2011 Oscar Nominations – Two Steps Forward, One Step Back? (Women’s Voice for Change)

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