First, the good news: Women directed 9% of the 250 top-grossing movies in 2015.
Yes, that’s actually good, at least compared to 7% in 2014. But as Inkoo Kang points out at Women and Hollywood that represents a net gain of exactly zero percent since the dawn of the millennium. According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film’s Dr. Martha Lauzen, “The numbers for 2015 indicate little change in women’s behind-the-scenes employment. The celluloid ceiling remains a reality for women working in this community.”
That brings us to Marya E. Gates’ A Year With Women, which wrapped up on January 1. During 2015, as she explains in her concluding blog post, “all the films I watched – from new releases, new-to-me, and re-watches – were directed or co-directed by women” — 305 in all, ranging from the 1890s to the present day.
Her month-by-month recap of the project’s process is less about the films themselves — there are individual entries on most of them already — and more about how the issues of gender balance in the film industry were handled over the course of the year. It’s a fascinating read, allowing you to trace the issue’s increasing visibility and at the same time the lack of any measurable progress.
Gates concludes: “This has been such a great year. I’ve discovered so many great filmmakers. I’ve seen so many great films (and some that I really hated!). I’ve met great women who love films and great women who make films. I think we’ve reached an important place in history. A lot of think pieces have talked about how “we’ve been here before” and nothing changes. It’s tough to look at history, because change really does take a long time.”
“But we live in the age of information. We live in a time where practically any film we want is at our fingertips. We live in a time where we can share our love of films with thousands of strangers who might then watch those films and spread that love like a wave that you can never really trace. We live in a time where you can make a film on your phone. You can share your films online. You can fund your films online. You can support filmmakers by renting or buying their films, writing about their films. Helping them fund their films. YOU CAN BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE. And you should be a part of that change. And then we won’t just wait on Hollywood to change their tune. We’ll already be marching to another beat.”
One way to be part of that change? Sign Women in Film’s “52 Films by Women” pledge, promising to watch one movie directed by a woman for every week in the year. Just signing it will show your support to the industry, but as Gates details on her blog, following through might actually change the way you watch movies. Gates has a long list of films you can choose from.