In this Sunday’s NY Times Arts & Leisure section, one of the Grey Lady’s chief film critics, Manohla Dargis, forcefully made the case for Selma director Ava DuVernay to get recognized in the Oscars’ best-director race.
This is a big deal because no woman of color has ever been nominated for best director, and only four women in the history of the awards have ever been nominated in that category. Let’s remember that only one woman, Kathryn Bigelow, has won, for The Hurt Locker in 2009.
“Four years ago, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win an Academy Award as best director; Ms. DuVernay has a shot to become the second.”
But she goes further, chiding the industry once again for its institutional sexism in the directing arena, as well as what ends up on screen. But she goes further, chiding the industry once again for its institutional sexism in the directing arena, as well as what ends up on screen. (Case in point: see the critics across the country anointing Boyhood and not taking any films with women as leads seriously.)
My hope is that studio folks will see the success of Ms. DuVernay and that it will open up their minds to the potential of women directors. Just a couple of years ago, DuVernay won the Best Director award at Sundance, but no one in the business took her seriously or gave her opportunities. She was seen as a woman who made small stories about women of color. But now, hopefully, everything is different, at least for her. DuVernay can figure out what she wants to do next. I hope, as Ms. Dargis does, that Ms. DuVernay will use the clout that she has earned to continue to tell the stories of women, specifically women of color, because they are important and so obviously missing in our film world.
I also hope that women directors feel very hopeful after reading this piece. They are many women out there who have made a movie for $200,000 who would give anything for a $20 million budget. It’s not that all women want to make superhero or action flicks with $100 million budgets (though there are many who do). It’s just that women want the opportunities routinely afforded to men. They want to tell stories, they want to be trusted, and most of all, they want equal opportunities.
We thank Ms. Dargis for being such an eloquent and persistent voice on this issue, and we look forward to the second and third installments of the Times’ three-part series on women directors and their struggle for equality.