The NY Times takes a look at some of the films generating buzz at Toronto and lo and behold women directors are really making a mark this season. In general, women directors have a higher presence at film festivals. Festivals try and get a diversity of films and of creatives. But none of the festivals are 50/50 and one way to check on women’s progress at the festivals is to see whose film gets bought for distribution. 145 films are for sale at Toronto, lots by women, and we will track the deals.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s so nice to report some good news for women directors but let’s keep in mind that it’s still much harder for women to get a directing gig and it’s even harder if they want to direct a film about women.
As the Times says:
While still struggling to find their place in the movie industry at large — the number of directors at American studios remains well over 90 percent male — female filmmakers have managed to occupy some of this 10-day festival’s most valuable slots: those showcase screenings and press conferences in the first couple of days, when everyone is still paying attention.
I am beginning to think (but don’t want to get my hopes up too much) that this year could really be a watershed moment for women directors. The Times talks about how in 2003 women directors like Niki Caro (who will be at the festival again this year), Catherine Hardwicke, Patty Jenkins and Sophia Coppola (who actually got a nomination - in my book Whale Rider by Niki Caro and Monster by Patty Jenkins were way stronger entries)
But this year feels different. First, people are writing about the directors and the films. None of the women who could be potential Oscar nominees are novices like was the case with some in 2003. I think also that Monster was really small and it was all about Charlize’s performance, and this year even though Carey Mulligan is getting amazing notices for An Education and will most probably be a best actress nominee, the film itself and the director Lone Scherfig are also getting noticed.
Second, because there are several strong women directors along with their strong films this year it has become a trend story and not a lone woman trying to make it is a man’s world. That’s a big deal. Numbers matter. The women can talk about their films and not their gender.
Third, the guys have not yet impressed the same way that women have. We all know that once the momentum starts for a male director like it did last weekend for Jason Reitman and Up in the Air it has a tendency to suck the air out of the room for the women.
The key for the women directors will be continuing to build on the momentum out of Toronto (because it will fade fast) as the campaigns for all the fall releases start rolling out.
But I gotta ask- could this be the year a woman (or two) breaks through not only getting a nomination for best director, but actually winning?
On a side note there are way more women than have gotten into the Times piece. Here’s the ones I’ve found:
Cairo Time – Ruba Nadda
The Waiting City – Claire McCarthy
Cracks- Jordan Scott
Partir – Catherine Corsini
Fish Tank- Andrea Arnold
Lourdes -Jessica Hausner
My Year Without Sex – Sarah Watt
The Angel -Margareth Olin
Beautiful Kate – Rachel Ward
The Day Will Come – Susanne Schneider
A Brand New Life – Ounie Lecomte
Eamon – Margaret Corkery
My Dog Tulip – Paul Fierlinger | Sandra Fierlinger
La Pivellina -Tizza Covi | Rainer Frimme
Whip-It- Drew Barrymore
Women Without Men- Shirin Neshat
My Queen Karo- Dorothée van den Berghe