It was with “tears in her eyes” that Jane Campion learned that her film The Power of Dog received 12 nominations for the 2022 Oscars. The director becomes the first woman to be nominated twice for an Oscar for Best Filmmaker, which will no doubt have to be combined with women. Perhaps we should also remember that Jane Campion had been the first woman to win a Palme d’Or at Cannes, that she had nevertheless had to share ex-aequo with another director, it was for The Piano Lessonin 1993. A director in a man’s world, Jane Campion is still an exception today.
Underrepresented women directors, according to a Quebec survey
In 2011, seven of the 35 fiction feature films shot in Quebec were directed by women, in 2019, they were behind the camera for fifteen of the 39 films produced that year: the number of female directors has therefore doubled in eight years.
It should also be noted that the Society for the Development of Cultural Enterprises, SODEC, has announced that women will direct seven of the ten feature-length fiction films that will soon be shot in Quebec, and that six of these films have budgets of 2.5 million dollars. dollars and more.
Commendable and welcome progress in this very specialized research which aims to take stock of the place of women in the film industry in Quebec.
To do this, Les Réalisatrices Équitables have teamed up with renowned researchers, Anna Lupien, Anouk Bélanger and Francine Descarries, from the Université du Québec à Montréal. For this study entitled “Who films who? Towards balanced representations in front of and behind the camera”, they watched 49 films in total: 25 directed by women in 2018 and 2019 and 24 directed by men in 2019. And analyzed the characteristics of 1,017 characters presented in these films.
Big budget movies, male domain
In terms of film budgets, men still have the upper end of the stick: directors have made films whose budgets were more than double those of films made by women (average budget of 4.4 million dollars against 2 .1 million dollars). And 4 of the films with budgets over 5 million were all directed by men. On this question of financing, therefore, women still have a hell of a slope to climb…
“Phenomenon of creative non-mixing”
Another interesting fact is that it is mainly female producers who support female directors: 44% of films made by women were produced by women, compared to 28% by men. And 67% of films directed by men are supported by producers.
Regardless of the gender of the filmmakers, the violence depicted is primarily masculine.
“Who is filming who?”
In the same vein, the researchers report a “phenomenon of creative non-mixing”, namely that among the 49 films, all those made by women were scripted or co-scripted by women and all the films made by men were scripted or co-scripted by men. In other words, we read in the study, “directors, in 2019, worked only with male screenwriters and female directors, in 2018 and 2019, only with female screenwriters”.
The analysis of the 49 films studied also reveals that, on average, the directors make almost twice as many violent scenes in their films as the female directors and “regardless of the sex of the filmmakers, the violence represented is primarily male”. The authors of the report therefore question the predominance of a culture of masculinity, or even of a “media formula of masculinity”.
1,017 characters scrutinized
The analysis of the characteristics of the 1,017 characters from these 49 films reveals that the female directors have a greater concern for parity and balance between the female and male characters than the directors by staging as many men as women, ” they compose an almost perfect parity between the male and female characters,” reads the report. This is not the case for directors, women remain in the minority in their casts, 38%, versus 61% for men.
Female directors give 84% of leading roles to women, while male directors give 72% of leading roles to men.
Report “Who is filming who?”
The study also reveals that female directors feature more racialized people in their film, almost twice as much as male directors.
In films released in 2019, “female directors give women 84% of leading roles, while directors give 72% of leading roles to men” … and women represent 48% of leading roles, so it’s almost the parity in this regard. On the other hand, at the level of “headliners”, men remain in the majority, 55%, which is explained by the fact that there are more directors than women directors and that directors tend to put more men in the headlines than women.
“Nearly half of the female characters directed by the directors are between 20 and 39 years old, while the directors orchestrate more balanced distributions” underlines the study.
Female directors are also more equitable in their representations of characters portrayed with depth, while directors will favor male characters. “One of the main contributions of the directors lies in their way of deepening the female characters they direct” is written in the report.
Founded in 2007, Réalisatrices Équitables aims to achieve equity for women in the field of filmmaking in Quebec and to ensure that public funds are allocated more equitably to male and female filmmakers. The organization also aspires to ensure that a fairer place is given to the concerns, worldview and imagination of women directors on all screens. Finally, it seeks to raise awareness in the media arts community of the need to diversify both female and male characters written and staged by creators from here and elsewhere, in order to move away from gender stereotypes.
Les Réalisatrices Équitables has just launched a platform called Dview soulss which offers films made by women but also portraits of female directors and advice on how to present film projects.
Each director is listed there with a file, her filmography and her biography, and links to the films she has directed. This platform wants to make producers and distributors aware of the hundreds of female Quebec directors active in the job market, in order to help them discover the new talents of Quebec cinema of tomorrow, as well as the experienced directors and filmmakers who are values sure of cinematographic art. What also promote networking and the sharing of resources between directors and other actors of Quebec cinema and international cinema.
Towards less systemic sexism?
Another interesting fact: since 2013, directors are less likely to sexualize female characters in their films.
A sector that is “quietly stripping itself of systemic sexism and ordinary sexism”.
In short, the authors of this report salute the growing presence of women behind the cameras and the progress made by female directors over the past eight years, but they stress that we are still far from parity and that we must stay the course to get there one day. “The under-representation of female directors further limits the diversity of representations offered on our screens. It also appears that the growing presence of women behind the camera contributes to diversifying the panorama of characters and stories in our cinematography, just as it opens up more access to a female imagination through screenplays written by women”.
The film industry, like others today, is quietly stripping itself of systemic sexism and ordinary sexism which certainly affects what is played in front of and behind the camera.
Conclusion of the report “Who films who?”
More women behind the camera means more women in front of the camera, but also more films representing the reality of women. “The film industry, like others today, is quietly stripping itself of systemic sexism and ordinary sexism which certainly affects what is played in front of and behind the camera” conclude the researchers.
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When will there be more women behind the camera, for less stereotyped cinema?