This month the film industry held two prestigious awards. First, was the celebration of the 73rd British Academy Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), and second was the 92nd Academy Awards known as the Oscars. Both events gathered to honour national and foreign directors, actors, actresses, editors, screenplays, screenwriters, musicians, and many others that created films in 2019.
A lot of the characteristics of both events have not changed during the years. For example, the hotel has been the same over the years, many categories remain the same, females have not been nominated in a row of years for best director, and the domination of males.
On the other hand, what has changed is the substantial increase of women’s demands for equal income, more significant roles, and most recently; women have broken silence of sexual harassment and abuse in the film industry.
The BAFTA announced 25 categories for the 2020 awards, from which 12 were won by men, 8 by women, and 5 were mix. At the Oscar Awards, things were not much different for women. From the 24 categories nominated 12 were won by men, 6 by women, and 6 mix.
Both events got backlash by the notorious absence of female figures in categories such as director and cinematography. Another point of discussion was the lack of diversity in the list of nominees. For example, at the Oscars, Cynthia Erivo was the only black female nominated in the categories of actress leading role and in the music (original song) for her role in Harriet.
According to the The Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the-Scenes, Employment of Women on the Top 100, 250, and 500 Films of 2019, elaborated by Dr. Martha M. Lauzen and the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, reveals that “women comprised 20% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 100 grossing films in 2019, up from 16% in 2018. Women working in these roles on the top 250 grossing films experienced a slight increase from 20% in 2018 to 21% in 2019. The percentage of women working on the top 500 films remained steady at 23%”.
Another figure shows in the study that films with at least one female director employed substantially have higher percentages of women in other key behind-the-scenes roles than films with exclusively male directors. For example, in 2017, director Zoe Lister-Jones employed mostly females as a crew member for her movie “Band Aid“.
The same investigation also demonstrates that in 2019, just 37% of major characters in the screening were accounted for females, while males had 63%.
Even though women had achieved a percentage of their demand in the motion picture industry, it is clear that they are still widely under-represented in the industry because it is a man’s world.
It is not a surprise that at each entertainment award winners use the podium to highlight political and social issues in their speech; however, actresses like Patricia Arquette, Halle Berry, Sandra Bullock, Frances McDormand, Rebel Wilson, and others, have taken this opportunity to raise awareness of gender inequality.
This year, Doc Point Helsinki Documentary Film Festival and Long Play organized a panel discussion: How does film and documentary look at women? The participants: researcher Anu Koivunen, director Inka Ach, and Benedetta Barzini, an academic and renown former top model, and the protagonist of the film “The disappearance of my mother”; concluded that women had made a significant step in the film world; however, it is still a long way. It is an evolution.
Since the film industry is a giant environment, there are many aspects that require our attention if we want to combat the inequality of women.
First, female actresses, directors, producers, musicians, editors etc. need to stand strong together and continue demanding their rights. Second, reject insignificant roles that are offered.
Third, start telling stories from women’s point of view. It is not good to have just one side of the story. Fourth, as audience we need to support watching more films directed by women. Please don’t get me wrong by thinking that we shouldn’t watch the ones produced by males.