You'd think that Hollywood, with all its "liberal elites", would be the kind of place where women and men were on an equal footing. Think again. Out of the 250 top grossing domestic films of last year only five percent of the directors were women. Five.
It's even worse for cinematographers (4%), and only marginally better for writers (14%, thanks Tina Fey!). This according to a January 2012 study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. And the number's actually falling. Despite the success of Kathryn Bigelow (who won the Best Director Oscar for The Hurt Locker) and Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight made $400 million), 2011 saw nearly half as many women making pictures as in 1998 (9%). Even after Twilight, Hardwicke wasn’t allowed to pitch herself as director of 2010’s The Fighter because executives said the film's brawny content required a male director.
If only men can direct “guy” films, it should stand to reason that girly films like Sex and the City, The Notebook, and Beaches would be directed by women, right? Wrong. All of those films had men at the helm. One theory for this is that female directors may not be as good at selling themselves. But the real root of the problem, however, is that studios don’t want to take a "risk" on a woman because they can count on a man to bring in the money. Never mind hits like Shrek (Vicky Jenson), Twilight, and Mamma Mia (Phyllida Lloyd).
It's still the 1950s for studio heads.
There is progress though. Female directing students are now equally represented in films schools. And 2012 is going to be quite the year for the female director, few though there are. We bring you ten directors who have movies coming out this year, women who are shredding that celluloid ceiling, frame by frame.
1. Kathryn Bigelow, Untitled Spy Thriller.
Bigelow’s highly anticipated project about the hunting and murder of Osama bin Laden is set for release in December with a cast that includes Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Idris Elba and Guy Pearce. Her production has sparked inquiries into whether the CIA leaked details about the terrorist’s assassination to her team before the May 2011, raid on Bid Laden’s compound. Not only the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director for The Hurt Locker, Bigelow is also one of very few women to direct action films. Expect gruesome detail.
2) Catherine Hardwicke, Knockout.
Known for breaking tweens’ hearts across the globe and making beautiful people turn into vampires, Hardwicke’s newest endeavor is about the career of Swedish boxer Bosse Högberg and his romance with cabaret singer Anita Lindblom. Perhaps we can expect some supernatural intrigue?
3) Jamie Babbit, Breaking the Girl.
Babbit comes from an extensive TV career (Smash, United States of Tara and much more). This year she comes out with a dark teen thriller about two college students that make a pact to kill each other’s enemies. Madeline Zima (Californication) stars.
4) Susanne Bier, All You Need is Love.
Danish born Bier won the Academy Award for best foreign language film (for In A Better World). This year, she turns to a romantic comedy starring the ever-charming Pierce Brosnan. Known for her melodramatic family tales, All You Need is Love is billed as a lighter fare. We look forward to Brosnan’s attempt at a Danish accent.
5) Amy Heckerling, Vamps.
Known for off-beat teen comedies like the classic Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Heckerling’s vampire comedy about two female vampires in modern-day New York City facing romantic challenges (yes there’s a human involved) is sure to deliver some great one-liners. Star of Heckerling’s, Clueless, Alicia Silverstone plays Goody, a 20-something vampire forced to make difficult vampire decisions. We’re excited to watch Heckerling’s take on the hugely popular vampire genre and even more excited to watch Sigourney Weaver as a baddie vampire villain.
6) Kelly Reichardt, Night Moves.
Starring two of the most intense actors out there - Peter Skaarsgard and Paul Dano - this eco-terrorist drama is centered on three environmentalists who plot to blow up a dam. Probably won’t be the best first date movie but we do expect the director of the acclaimed Western, Meek’s Cutoff, to keep us on the edge of our seats.
7) Margarethe von Trotta, Hannah Arendt.
One of Germany’s most prolific directors, von Trotta is no stranger to big subjects. And few subjects are as big as the Third Reich. Hannah Arendt was a philosopher and political theorist who reported for The New Yorker on the war crimes trial of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann.
8) Anne Fletcher, My Mother’s Curse.
Fletcher is a hit maker. Having made The Proposal, 27 Dresses, and Catch Me If You Can, she now brings us a Dan Fogelman (Crazy Stupid Love) screenplay about an inventor that goes on the road with his mother so he can sell his latest invention. A comedy about mothers, inventions and road trips? Starring Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand? Sold! The release date is November 2, 2012.
9) Valerie Faris, He Loves Me.
Faris is best known for Little Miss Sunshine. She knows her business. He Loves Me bears an impressive cast including Antonio Banderas, Paul Dano, Annette Bening, and Steve Coogan. Dano plays a young novelist struggling with writer's block that finds love in a Weird Science kind of way. Little Miss Sunshine left big shoes to fill with accolades across the board. We can't wait.
10) Julie Delpy, The Right Profile.
You may know her as that beautiful French actress that broke up Uma and Ethan’s marriage, but her film (currently in pre-production), The Right Profile, promises to give her a pass. Little is known besides the fact that it's the story of Joe Strummer of The Clash, and will focus on his planned disappearance from the public eye in 1982 before the release of Combat Rock.