GIRLS ON FILM; Women Have Helmed Some First-Rate Films This Year but Still Account for Only Three per Cent of the Industry's Directors, Says Nick Curtis

The Evening Standard (London, England), November 2, 2009 | Go to article overview

GIRLS ON FILM; Women Have Helmed Some First-Rate Films This Year but Still Account for Only Three per Cent of the Industry's Directors, Says Nick Curtis


Byline: Nick Curtis

IT SEEMS that after years of neglect or, worse, pat-on-the-head patronising, women film directors have achieved critical mass. The screen adaptation of Lynn Barber's memoir An Education by Danish director Lone Scherfig, and Sam Taylor-Wood's debut film Nowhere Boy, about the young John Lennon, have garnered four-and five-star reviews across the board. With her Keats biopic Bright Star Jane Campion looks set to bridge the divide between arthouse and commercial cinema.

Since they deal primarily in human emotion and relationships, these films could still, of course, be branded "women's pictures". But a host of films due on our screens soon shows the huge range of themes being addressed by female auteurs. Penny Woolcock's 1 Day has been barred from Cineworld and Odeon cinemas in Birmingham for its controversial depiction of drug gangs in the city. Mira Nair's Amelia is a lavish $40 million biopic of pioneering flyer Amelia Earhart with Hilary Swank in the lead role, and promises to be the female equivalent of Scorsese's The Aviator. 'As a proportion of films made, crop remains glittering small the Sofia Coppola's latest film, Somewhere, has Benicio Del Toro as a hard-living Hollywood actor reappraising his life after a surprise visit from his 11-year-old daughter.

True, women still rarely helm the kind of action movies that really fill Hollywood's coffers: but let's remember that Kathryn Bigelow, one of the few acknowledged mistresses of the genre, returned to form this year with the powerful Iraq war drama The Hurt Locker. Are we finally witnessing cinematic equality, or is this a flash in the pan? …

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