Arts and Entertainment

Oscars Not So White, But Still So Male


Teegan Macleod, Staff Writer

This time last year I wrote an article about the Oscars and how they were discriminating against women and people of color.  This year I am pleased to say that people of color are represented very well among this year’s nominees.  There is a person of color in nearly every category.  Including Barry Jenkins, only the fourth black person to be nominated for Best Director, and Joi McMillon, who is the first black woman nominated in the Best Film Editing category.  Now, while this is an amazing step forward, there is still the issue of the underrepresentation of women in this awards ceremony.

When it comes to behind the scenes Oscars, unless it is set design or costume design, there is a serious lack of women.  This year for instance, there is not a single female nominee in the categories of Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Original Song, or Best Visual Effects.  There has been some seriously great work done by women in film this year.  Mira Nair directed the beautiful film Queen of Katwe.  Kelly Reichardt wrote and directed the thoughtful film Certain Women.  Andrea Arnold wrote and directed the gorgeous film American Honey.  All of that aside, there is one category that I would like to pay special attention to.  That is the category of Best Cinematography.  In the Oscars’ 88 years, there has never once been a female cinematographer nominated for this award. There have been countless eligible nominees, Maryse Alberti for her work on Creed or The Wrestler, Rachel Morrison for her work on the beautifully filmed Fruitvale Station, or Ellen Kuras for her work on my personal favorite film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. With work like this being overlooked it calls into question why it has taken so long for the academy to give a single nomination to a woman.  One such explanation for this is that in the case of women in film, there is a genuine lack of opportunities for women attempting to make a career in behind the scenes film work.  Per research done by the New York Film Academy, for every one woman that is working on a film there are five men working on films.  Based on the same research, in 2012, female directors made up 9% of the films made that year.  Female cinematographers made up a staggering 2% of all the films made in that year.

There are however some great organizations working to turn around gender inequality in film, namely Women in Film which spreads the word about movies made by women and started the #52filmsbywomen challenge which challenges people to watch one film a week that is made by a woman for a year.  They also co-founded the Female Film Initiative which, among other things, works to garner research on the gender disparity in independent filmmaking, which has never been done before.  They believe that by gaining information on women in film, and what is standing in their way, we will be better able to do away with the gender disparity altogether.  If you are not sure where to start there are several links online where you can find great films made by women, one is a list put together by the organization Film Fatales that highlights all the films made by women currently streaming on Netflix. I highly suggest that you look into it and support these films so as to hopefully put an end to the diminishing of the female voice in film once and for all.



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