Women are pioneering the film industry now more than ever before, slowly shrinking the gender gap that has long dominated cinema. ROOMS proudly waves the feminism flag presenting the latest feature aimed to celebrate and pave the way for more female recognition in Film, A Female Perspective in Film, featuring Ruth Paxton, Francesca Gregorini and Daisy Jacobs.
Writer, director and producer Francesca Gregorini one of the women featured, earned a nomination at the Sundance Film Festival 2013 Grand Jury Prize – Dramatic for her film ‘The Truth about Emanuel.’ In the feature she shares an insight into women’s position in film today; ‘I feel very honoured to be one of the very few women out there when you think of the percentages of filmmakers. I take it on as a responsibility because there’s not that many voices out there and I think if telling women’s stories, if this is the only thing I ever do in my entire career, then I’ll be completely happy and satisfied.’
Unfortunately, Gregorini is right about the amount of women filmmakers out there. According to the latest industry statistics in 2014, women accounted for 7% of directors, up 1 percentage point from 2013 but down 2 percentage points from 9% in 1998.
Although, it appears that female supporting their own in film is increasingly evident in the industry with films directed by women featuring more women in all roles. There is a 21% increase in women working on a narrative film when there is a female director and a 24% of women working on documentaries. Thereby, suggesting that the new wave of feminism in film is an encouraging prospect, showing women having more of an impact in aiding the success of other women in the industry. Gregorini shared similar views in the feature, urging women to be aware of all types of positions available in film; ‘We need more female financiers and female executives and all of these people being mindful of trying to help a sister out.’
It is a slow battle of equality for women in film, the latest Oscar award ceremony proved in abundance that men are still leading in the high leagues with writer and director Ruth Paxton who also featured stating; ‘five filmmakers nominated in the Best Director were all white men, reflects the reigning racism and sexism in Hollywood, which sets the blueprint really.’
The underlining notion is that there needs to be a balance of women and men in film, not just to balance out the sexes but to equalise the kind of voices and the type of films being produced. Paxton is accurate to have these opinions about sexism in Hollywood; it is after all, the largest controllers of distribution, exhibition and production in film and in order for there to be more equality, it needs to be initiated by Hollywood first who maintains this power. If Hollywood continues as it is, controlled by men, from the top investors to the top directors, that sets an inevitable misogynist binary in film that does not cater for women in our population.
But for now, we live in hope. ROOMS latest feature, A Female Perspective in Film certainly offers that, exhibiting the latest in pioneering female filmmaking of three talented women proving success can be built on merit and not gender.
Phoebe Shannon-Fagan interviews Francesca Gregorini, Daisy Jacobs and Ruth Paxton in our current issue ROOMS 17 Who decides what you see