Monsoon Wedding (2001) - News Poster

News

Scene Stealer: Zenobia Shroff as Kumail Nanjiani’s Mother in ‘The Big Sick’

Scene Stealer: Zenobia Shroff as Kumail Nanjiani’s Mother in ‘The Big Sick’
After more than 30 years in showbiz, Zenobia Shroff has a mainstream breakout with “The Big Sick,” playing Kumail Nanjiani’s mother. The actress, an accomplished classical Indian dancer and sketch comedy artist, has been featured in several indie movies in Hollywood and Bollywood. She also teaches inner-city kids dance and movement. Shroff got the part in a circuitous way: 10 years ago, she auditioned for, but didn’t get, a role in Mira Nair’s “Monsoon Wedding” but casting director Loveleen Tandon remembered her, and told “Big Sick” casting director Gayle Keller about her. Shroff is featured in a half dozen scenes, including the ending in which she doesn’t speak but says volumes with her expression and the turn of her head.

“I have grown up surrounded by women like Sharmeen [Kumail Nanjiani’s mother]. There is not a mother on the Indian subcontinent who does not want her son to marry within their religion or community and get a ‘real
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Re-Thinking the Canon

Monsoon Wedding

My recent tweet storm about the need to re-think the (overwhelmingly white and male) canon led The Guardian to invite me to elaborate on my thoughts. They’ve used my piece as an introduction for a feature that asks writers, directors, producers, actresses, and other women in the industry to imagine a new, more inclusive canon.

The Guardian sourced contributions from women like Lynne Ramsay, Gurinder Chadha, and Amma Asante, whose respective picks are Claire Denis’ “Beau Travail,” Mira Nair’s “Monsoon Wedding,” and Barbra Steisand’s “Yentl.” This is what the canon looks like when women have a voice.

Head over to The Guardian to check out the feature. I’m really excited about how it turned out, but I’m even more excited by the reaction it’s causing. This was intended to be a conversation-starter, and people are talking. I’m receiving lots of tweets about what the canon could and should look like.

Here are some of the suggestions:

The Piano” — Directed by Jane Campion

Pariah” — Directed by Dee Rees

Born in Flames” — Directed by Lizzie Borden

Clueless” — Directed by Amy Heckerling

“Girlhood” — Directed by Céline Sciamma

“Eve’s Bayou” — Directed by Kasi Lemmons

“Raw” — Directed by Julia Ducournau

Middle of Nowhere” — Directed by Ava DuVernay

Black Girl” — Directed by Ousmane Sembene

Strange Days” — Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

The Elements trilogy (“Earth,” “Fire,” and “Water”) — Directed by Deepa Mehta

I’d love to hear from more people and to expand this important list. Please tweet me your picks @melsil. As more titles get added we’ll compile them and make a permanent home for this radical new canon, a celebration of the films that have been undervalued for far too long.

Re-Thinking the Canon was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

“The Shape of Water” wins the Golden Lion at Venice

Over the weekend, the 2017 Venice Film Festival handed out their awards, with Guillermo del Toro’s ravenously received The Shape of Water taking the top prize. While the Golden Lion isn’t quite an Academy Award barometer, it’s nothing to sneeze at either. This marks an important point in the road, as things are heating up. We’re not yet at the precursor season, but any feather in your hat right now is a boon for a contender. As such, del Toro has to consider himself in a very nice place. The next few months will still be about getting the proverbial ducks in a row. The real fun is still to come. Obviously, the Golden Lion went to del Toro’s highly praised movie, as The Shape of Water got the first big awards season boost. It took home the top prize, while other highlighted winners include Charlie Plummer
See full article at Hollywoodnews.com »

Toronto Film Review: ‘The Hungry’

Toronto Film Review: ‘The Hungry’
William Shakespeare’s first tragedy, “Titus Andronicus,” has never been among his most revered plays, but there’s a primal appeal to the raw, blood-caked nastiness of its plotting and the themes of revenge and political treachery that would resurface in later works. Julie Taymor’s conceptually audacious 1999 film version collapsed multiple eras into a Grand Guignol epic about the savagery at the heart of human history, but made few changes to the text. For “The Hungry,” writer-director Bornila Chatterjee tosses out the dialogue and updates the story to an estate in modern-day India, where a marriage of convenience around a business partnership turns into an all-consuming internecine battle. Yet the conceit is narrow and banal, losing not only the poetry of Shakespeare’s work but its populist charge, too, which is weakened by yawning gaps in the storytelling. Ultra-violence and incoherence stand to make a fraught marriage in worldwide markets.

Photographed
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Locarno: Indian Thespian Naseeruddin Shah In Final Talks for ‘Barzakh’ (Exclusive)

Locarno: Indian Thespian Naseeruddin Shah In Final Talks for ‘Barzakh’ (Exclusive)
London — Veteran Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah will play one of the leads in co-directors Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi’s “Barzakh: Between Heaven and Hell”. Produced by Anam Abbas and Mazhar Zaidi for Pakistan and U.K.-based production outfit Matteela Films, “Barzakh” is one of the projects chosen for the 2017 edition of Locarno’s Open Doors co-production platform.

Shah’s credits include “Monsoon Wedding” and “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” He headlines the Film London and Cinestaan production “The Hungry,” an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus” that will world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

A film noir set in the once-glorious Lollywood film industry of Lahore, Pakistan, “Barzakh” follows a fading diva, Sheena, who is trapped in an abusive relationship with her married boyfriend Rana, who is a well-connected policeman. The film will also explore issues of gender. The producers are looking to raise €760,000 ($888,788) with a view to commencing principal photography
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Hillary Clinton Says ‘Wonder Woman’ Is ‘Right Up My Alley’ in Video Message at Crystal + Lucy Awards

Hillary Clinton Says ‘Wonder Woman’ Is ‘Right Up My Alley’ in Video Message at Crystal + Lucy Awards
Politics was never far from the podium at Women in Film’s Crystal + Lucy Awards on Tuesday night, referred to by speakers exhorting Hollywood to be more inclusive in its storytelling and video messages from Sen. Kamala Harris, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama.

“Now I haven’t seen ‘Wonder Woman’ yet, but I’m going to, in part because it’s directed by the fabulous Patty Jenkins,” Clinton said in a video message that both praised the director, whose “Wonder Woman” scored the best domestic debut ever for a female helmer, and indirectly took aim at the Trump administration. “But something tells me that a movie about a strong, powerful woman fighting to save the world from a massive international disaster is right up my alley.”

Clinton honored Crystal + Lucy Award recipient Elizabeth Banks, one of her most vocal celebrity supporters during the election.

Norma Zarky Humanitarian Award honoree Dan Rather,
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Hillary Clinton Says ‘Wonder Woman’ Is ‘Right Up My Alley’ in Video Message at Crystal + Lucy Awards

Hillary Clinton Says ‘Wonder Woman’ Is ‘Right Up My Alley’ in Video Message at Crystal + Lucy Awards
Politics was never far from the podium at Women in Film’s Crystal + Lucy Awards on Tuesday night, referred to by speakers exhorting Hollywood to be more inclusive in its storytelling and video messages from Sen. Kamala Harris, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama.

“Now I haven’t seen ‘Wonder Woman’ yet, but I’m going to, in part because it’s directed by the fabulous Patty Jenkins,” Clinton said in a video message that both praised the director, whose “Wonder Woman” scored the best domestic debut ever for a female helmer, and indirectly took aim at the Trump administration. “But something tells me that a movie about a strong, powerful woman fighting to save the world from a massive international disaster is right up my alley.”

Clinton honored Crystal + Lucy Award recipient Elizabeth Banks, one of her most vocal celebrity supporters during the election.

Norma Zarky Humanitarian Award honoree Dan Rather, accepting
See full article at Variety - TV News »

The 25 Best Films Directed By Women of the 21st Century, From ‘Lost in Translation’ to ‘Persepolis’

  • Indiewire
The 25 Best Films Directed By Women of the 21st Century, From ‘Lost in Translation’ to ‘Persepolis’
Female filmmakers are still an unfortunate rarity in Hollywood — USC Annenberg’s Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative’s latest study about female directors in the industry recently delivered blunt findings like “the director’s chair is white and male” and “age restricts opportunities for female filmmakers” and even “one & done: opportunities for female directors are rare” — but that hasn’t stopped a compelling legion of creators to churn out excellent films for as long as the art form has existed.

The 21st century may be less than seventeen years old, but it’s already played home to a slew of instant classics, from established auteurs to rising indie stars and everything in between. Here are the 25 best.

Read More: The 25 Best Sci-Fi Movies of the 21st Century, From ‘Children of Men’ to ‘Her’

Behold, a bevy of riches…

25. “Tomboy,” directed by Céline Sciamma (2011)

A quietly gorgeous portrait of a plucky
See full article at Indiewire »

Crystal + Lucy Awards to Honor Elizabeth Banks, Tracee Ellis Ross, Mira Nair, & More

Tracee Ellis Ross on “Black-ish”: Eric McCandless

Former “Daily Show” correspondent Jessica Williams is set to host the 2017 Crystal + Lucy Awards. Elizabeth Banks, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Mira Nair are among the women being honored at the event, a press release from Women in Film, Los Angeles (Wif La) has announced.

Set for June 13 in Beverly Hills, this year’s fundraising dinner, themed “Evolve,” will be in support of Wif La’s educational and philanthropic programs and its work advocating for gender equality in the entertainment industry.

Pitch Perfect 2” director and actress Banks will receive the The Crystal Award for Excellence in Film, which honors “outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.” The three-time Emmy nominated actress is set to direct two high-profile female-led films: a “Charlie’s Angels” reboot and an adaptation of Victoria Aveyard’s Ya dystopian fantasy “Red Queen.” In 2016 Banks founded WhoHaha, a digital comedy platform for women.

The Lucy Award for Excellence in Television will be given to “Black-ish” star Ross. Named after Lucille Ball, the award recognizes “women and men and their creative works that exemplify the extraordinary accomplishments she embodied; whose excellence and innovation have enhanced the perception of women through the medium of television.” Ross’ role on “Black-ish” has earned her a Golden Globe and the 2015 and 2016 NAACP Image Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. In her Globes acceptance speech, Ellis said, “This is for all of the women of color and colorful people whose stories, ideas and thoughts are not always considered worthy and valid and important. I want you to know that I see you and we see you.” Her other credits include “Girlfriends,” “Reed Between the Lines,” and “CSI.”

Queen of Katwe” helmer Nair will receive The BMW Dorothy Arzner Directors Award, “established to recognize the important role women directors play in the film and television industries.” Nair’s feature debut, “Salaam Bombay!” scored an Oscar nod in 1989. Her other credits include “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” “Amelia,” and “Monsoon Wedding.”

Rising star Zoey Deutch snagged The Women In Film Max Mara Face of the Future Award, “given to an actress who is experiencing a turning point in her career through her work in the film and television industries, through her contributions to the community at large, in recognition of her outstanding achievements, and her embodiment of style and grace.” “Before I Fall,” “Why Him?” and “Everybody Wants Some!!” are among her recent credits.

The Norma Zarky Humanitarian Award will go to former “CBS Evening News” anchor Dan Rather. Named after the first woman President of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, this honor is presented “to individuals who, like Ms. Zarky herself, have demonstrated enlightened support for the advancement of equal opportunity and devotion to the improvement of the human condition.”

Co-Presidents and Co-Founders of Sony Pictures Classics Michael Barker and Tom Bernard will receive The Women In Film Beacon Award, “presented to an entertainment industry professional for outstanding leadership in the advancement of gender equity, signaling and celebrating unbiased decision making in media.” Barker and Bernard have worked with directors such as Nicole Holofcener, Agnes Varda, Sally Potter, Lisa Cholodenko, Marielle Heller, Maren Ade, Meera Menon, and Marjane Satrapi. They “will be given the inaugural award for their unmatched support of female filmmakers consistently and throughout the entire history of their careers,” the press release states.

Crystal + Lucy Awards to Honor Elizabeth Banks, Tracee Ellis Ross, Mira Nair, & More was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

“The Secret Life of Bees” Being Made into Musical

Queen Latifah in “The Secret Life of Bees”: 20th Century Fox

The Secret Life of Bees” is coming to the stage — again. The New York Times reports that a musical adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd’s 2001 novel — which was previously adapted into a one-woman play and a 2008 film— is on the way. The musical will be workshopped at Vassar College/New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse theater season June 27–29.

Lynn Nottage, the first woman to win the Pulitzer for Drama twice, is set to write the musical’s book. Susan Birkenhead (“Monsoon Wedding”) will write the lyrics and Duncan Sheik (“Spring Awakening”) will compose. Sam Gold (“Fun Home”) will direct the production.

Set in 1964, “The Secret Life of Bees” is told from the perspective of Lily, a 14-year-old white girl growing up in the South. The novel follows Lily as she escapes from her abusive single father with her nanny, Rosaleen, who is black. The pair eventually find refuge and create a new family with the Boatwright sisters — August, June, and May — three black women who run their own beekeeping and honey-making business.

Other notable Powerhouse productions this season include “Stilyagi,” which features a book written by “Fun Home” Tony winner Lisa Kron, and “Good Men Wanted,” a portrait of women fighting in the Civil War.

“Love & Basketball” helmer Gina Prince-Bythewood wrote and directed the film adaptation of “The Secret Life of Bees.” It features an all-star cast including Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo, and Paul Bettany.

Nottage recently won her second Pulitzer for “Sweat,” with which she also made her Broadway debut. “Sweat” is about dissatisfaction, anger, and resentment among the working class, specifically among factory workers facing layoffs in Reading, Pennsylvania. Nottage won her first Pulitzer in 2009 for “Ruined,” which focuses on “ruined” women — rape survivors and sex workers — in civil war-torn Congo.

Check out the Powerhouse website for more info on the “Secret Life of Bees” workshop.

The Secret Life of Bees” Being Made into Musical was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

What Happened to the Women Directors in Hollywood? Part 5: 2000–2017

Mira Nair and Ava DuVernay: Wikimedia Commons/IndiaFM/Bollywoodhungama/usbotschaftberlin

by Carrie Rickey

This five-part Truthdig series by Carrie Rickey is published in partnership with Women and Hollywood. The series considers the historic accomplishments of women behind the camera, how they got marginalized, and how they are fighting for equal employment. Specifically, this series asks, why do females make up between 33 and 50 percent of film-school graduates but account for only seven percent of working directors? What happened to the women directors in Hollywood?

Female filmmakers greeted the 21st century with optimism. By most measures, movies by women were garnering increased respect in the industry and at the multiplex. Their makers cracked glass ceilings, created new genres, and established new box-office records.

With “Nowhere in Africa” (2001), Caroline Link became the second woman to direct the Oscar-winner for the year’s best foreign film. With “Lost in Translation” (2003), Sofia Coppola was the third woman to receive a best director nomination from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. And with “The Hurt Locker” (2009), Kathryn Bigelow was the fourth woman nominated in the directing category — and the first to win. The following year, Danish filmmaker Susanna Bier directed the winner in the best foreign film category, “In a Better World.”

Gina Prince-Bythewood’s “Love & Basketball” (2000), Karyn Kusama’s “Girlfight” (2000) and Gurinder Chadha’s “Bend It Like Beckham” (2003) created what might be called the “Title IX” movie, celebrating female athletes on the court, in the ring, and on the field. These are sports movies that celebrate the female body — not for its sex appeal, but for its power. These films inspired younger women (and their mothers were thrilled to take them to movies that didn’t objectify women).

Comedies by women continued to make serious box office, proving the Hollywood wisdom that “funny is money.” Nancy Meyers’ “What Women Want” (2000), starring Mel Gibson as a player briefly given the power to hear what women think about him, made $374 million. Sharon Maguire’s “Bridget Jones’s Diary” (2001), in which the title character says what she thinks about womanizers and prigs, brought in $282 million. Movies like these permitted men and women to laugh at men’s foibles.

From Patricia Cardoso’s “Real Women Have Curves” (2002), which introduced America Ferrera as a college-bound Latina, to Julie Taymor’s biopic “Frida” (2003), with Salma Hayek as Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, to Patty Jenkins’ “Monster” (2003), with Charlize Theron as serial killer Aileen Wuornos, audiences saw realistic women — as opposed to human swizzle sticks with breasts — in movies by women.

Many critics hailed Niki Caro’s “Whale Rider” (2003), about a Maori preteen who challenges her tribal patriarchy and becomes the new chief, as a harbinger of the triumph of female filmmakers over the status quo. Others pointed to the fact that for the first time since records had been kept, in 2000 women made 11 percent of the top 250 box office films. For women who make movies, the new century felt like a new day.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Sadly, that encouraging percentage turned out to be a fluke. After 2000, the number dwindled. It remains stuck in the 6 to 9 percent range, says Martha Lauzen, professor of communications and head of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University. Since 1998 Lauzen has tracked women working in the industry in her annual “Celluloid Ceiling” report.

“When I started this, I thought it was merely an issue of people not knowing how low the numbers were,” Lauzen said ruefully. “I didn’t know how slow social change is.”

Lauzen’s reporting represents one of three vital resources for understanding the triumphs female filmmakers have made and how far they need to go to achieve parity with men. The others are Stacy Smith’s Media Diversity and Social Change Institute at USC’s Annenberg School and The Bunche Center at UCLA.

Collectively and individually, these creators of annual good news/bad news reports have kept the issue of representation in the public eye.

The Good: For Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker,” “Zero Dark Thirty”), the late Nora Ephron (“Julie & Julia”), and Nancy Meyers (“It’s Complicated,” “The Intern”), the 21st century has been a fruitful time. So, too, for younger female moviemakers. Consider Lisa Cholodenko (“Laurel Canyon,” “The Kids Are All Right”), Ava DuVernay (“Selma,” “13th”), and Mira Nair (“Monsoon Wedding,” “The Namesake”).

Consider also that Catherine Hardwicke established a franchise with “Twilight” (which made $393 million), Sam Taylor-Johnson created another with “50 Shades of Grey” ($571 million), and that Anne Fletcher’s “The Proposal” made $317 million and Phyllida Lloyd’s “Mamma Mia!” earned $609 million.

Additionally, filmmakers like Dee Rees (“Pariah”), Debra Granik (“Winter’s Bone”), and Lone Scherfig (“An Education”) broke into the market with unique visions and eyes for new talent, including Adepero Oduye, Jennifer Lawrence, and Carey Mulligan. Significantly, Vicky Jenson (“Shrek”), Jennifer Lee (“Frozen”), Jennifer Yuh Nelson (“Kung Fu Panda 2”), and Brenda Chapman (“Brave”) staked a place for women in animation.

The Bad: For every woman appearing onscreen in movies in 2015 there were 2.3 men, according to Stacy Smith’s Media Diversity & Social Change Initiative.

The Ugly: When Walt Hickey, culture reporter for the website fivethirtyeight.com, goes to the movies and sees the screen population is 69 percent male, it just looks wrong to him. “It’s like something apocalyptic has happened, like a parallel universe — a man’s world,” he says.

Both Lauzen’s and Smith’s data show that when a woman is behind the camera and/or screenplay, 39 percent of protagonists are female. In movies by male directors, only four percent of the lead characters are female.

A century ago, male dominance behind the camera and on the screen was not the norm. For women behind the camera, it’s been the norm since 1920. And for women onscreen, it’s been the norm since 1950. Because of this, moviegoers have a distorted picture of America as predominantly male and predominantly Caucasian, when it is neither. (For finer-grain data on minority representation, see this annual report from UCLA’s Bunche Center.)

The Force Reawakens

The Hollywood Dream Factory tailors the majority of its product to the measurements of the men in the audience. This troubles those who want their daughters to partake of the same professional opportunities, cultural representation, and dream lives as their sons. While “Nine to Five,” “Norma Rae,” and “Erin Brockovich” show that studios love stories of women who triumph over the odds, there is less obvious love for female filmmakers trying to beat the odds stacked against them in their professional lives.

Since the Original Six filed suit against two studios in 1983 (see Part 3), female filmmakers have met, strategized, and troubleshot. So much so that in one of her final essays before her death in 2012, Nora Ephron made a list of “Things I Won’t Miss.” Near the top: “Panels on Women in Film.” Many women in film felt as though they were running in place.

“Instead of holding a million panels about it,” Christine Vachon, producer of “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Carol,” exclaimed at the 2016 Sundance Festival, “let’s do something about it!”

Someone had. She is Maria Giese, director of the feature films “When Saturday Comes” and “Hunger.” In February 2013 she brought a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Eeoc) in Los Angeles. Her contention was that the cohort of working filmmakers in the Directors Guild of America (DGA), of which she is a member, was overwhelmingly male.

(While the number of women in the guild directing episodic television amounts to 17 percent, the DGA 2015 census of female filmmakers registered 6.4 percent. That’s lower than the nine percent of female coal miners, and fractional next to the 32 percent of practicing physicians and 36 percent of practicing lawyers who are women).

The Eeoc, which collects data on employer/employee relations for each calendar year, was reluctant to take on a class-action suit.

In April 2013, Giese contacted the Aclu of Southern California and showed the evidence to Melissa Goodman, director of its Lgbtq, Gender & Reproductive Justice Project. For the next two years Goodman and her colleague Ariela Migdal took testimony from more than 50 female directors. In May 2015 they sent the Eeoc an extraordinary letter that counted the ways in which “female filmmakers are effectively excluded from directing big-budget films and seriously underrepresented in television.” A compelling argument in their letter: “The entertainment industry employs many people and makes products that profoundly shape our culture and the perception of women and girls.” Later in 2015, the Eeoc commenced its own investigation.

In January 2017, based on a high-level internal DGA leak received by Giese, Deadline Hollywood reported that after a federal investigation spanning a year that included testimony from over 100 women directors, the Eeoc recently served charges of sex discrimination and unfair hiring practice against all six major studios. While the federal agency does not comment on active cases, Gillian Thomas and Melissa Goodman of the Aclu wrote in an editorial that they had no reason to doubt the veracity of the leak.

A key factor contributing to Giese’s success in getting this issue to the Aclu and Eeoc was her ability to expose the structural obstacles female filmmakers face, from a guild that puts female and minority filmmakers in the same category, to the studios that question the fitness of women to direct.

Myths and Continued Underrepresentation

Over the 25 years I’ve reported on female filmmakers, I’ve interviewed two generations of movie executives. Most, but not all, were male. Most took seriously my questions about the apparent exclusion of women behind the camera, both on the screen and their forthcoming line-up.

Without exception, all of them retold one or more of the “Three Hollywood Myths.”

Myth #1) “Women don’t want to direct action movies and those are the films which are making money.”

Untrue. See: Martha Coolidge’s “Real Genius” (1985), Kathryn Bigelow’s “Point Break” (1991), Mimi Leder’s “The Peacemaker” (1997) and “Deep Impact” (1998), Lexi Alexander’s “Punisher: War Zone” (2008), and Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” (2009) and “Zero Dark Thirty” (2012).

What is true is that Patty Jenkins was hired to direct “Thor: The Dark World” (2013) and left due to creative differences. She is now working on the forthcoming “Wonder Woman.”

What is true is that Mira Nair was offered a “Harry Potter” film and chose instead to make the family drama “The Namesake” because the material was more important to her, and that Ava DuVernay was offered “Black Panther,” the film version of the Marvel Comics series, and declined for similar reasons.

Myth #2) “Movies by women don’t make money.”

Untrue again. Some movies by women don’t make back their investment, just as some movies by men do not. What is true is that many movies by women make major bank. Catherine Hardwicke’s little $37 million film “Twilight” grossed $393 million and launched a billion-dollar franchise.

Hardwicke told me by phone that she hears all the time from studios that films by women are poor investments. “And every time you say, ‘Well, this one made money, that one made money,’ they say, ‘This one made money because it was based on a best-selling book,’ or ‘That one made money because of its hot actress.’”

Here are six more films by women and their box-office grosses. They made money because they powerfully connected with audiences.

Bend it Like Beckham” (Gurinder Chadha). Cost: $6 million/Gross: $77 million“Frida” (Julie Taymor). Cost: $12 million/Gross: $56 million“Frozen” (Jennifer Lee). Cost: $150 million/Gross: $1.2 billion“The Proposal” (Anne Fletcher). Cost: $40 million/Gross: $317 million“Selma” (Ava DuVernay). Cost: $20 million/Gross $67 million“Lost in Translation” (Sofia Coppola). Cost: $4 million/Gross $120 million

Myth #3) “A woman behind the camera means women on the screen and no men in the audience.”

Untrue, if taken literally. Sometimes movies by women have a lower percentage of men in the audience, just as sometimes movies by men have a lower percentage of women in the audience. Take, for example, the 2015 films, “Bridge of Spies” by Steven Spielberg and “The Intern” by Nancy Meyers.

According to Paul Dergarabedian of comScore, the research company’s “PostTrak” data shows the audience gender breakdown at “Bridge of Spies,” a ’60s-era political thriller starring Tom Hanks, was 54 percent male and 46 percent female. For “The Intern,” a contemporary workplace comedy co-starring Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro, it was 41 percent male and 59 percent female. Spielberg’s film grossed $165 million; Meyers’ $194 million. His budget was $40 million; hers was $35 million.

Ava DuVernay’s “Selma,” the story of the 1965 march for voting rights led by Martin Luther King and starring David Oyelowo, had an audience gender breakdown of 47 percent male and 53 percent female. The assumption that movies come gendered with a blue or pink ribbon is a canard that still lingers in Hollywood, perhaps a vestige of the target marketing that began in the 1980s.

Speaking from the set of “Queen Sugar” in 2016, DuVernay observed, “We’re in a place right now where every other film is about a comic book superhero. We’re top-heavy with testosterone.”

How did Hollywood, a century ago a place where female directors thrived and prospered, come to this?

Stacy Title, director of “The Last Supper” and “The Bye Bye Man,” points the finger at “unconscious bias.”

Mira Nair, who was born in India, suspects chauvinism. “I’ve always remarked at the irony that the percentage of female directors is higher in India than in the United States,” she explained in a phone conversation. “India is supposed to be the traditional chauvinist culture,” she observes. Nair wonders if the historic examples of female prime ministers in South Asia — Indira Gandhi in India, Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan — may have broken the glass ceiling for all professional women there. “Their examples don’t exist in the U.S.”

DuVernay looks forward to the outcome — and hoped-for positive resolution — of the Eeoc investigation. “It’s a systematic problem and it requires radical change,” she said. “If it’s not happening organically, systems should be put in place.” Like many female filmmakers, DuVernay hopes the Eeoc can reconfigure what Giese calls the “vertical playing field for women” into a level one.

“One thing I’m heartened by,” said Nair, who’s been making features for nearly 30 years, “is that the variety and confidence of female filmmakers today is inspiring.”

Do others think it’s changed for the better for women since the 1980s?

“For me, there’s no comparison between the ’80s and now,” reflected Nancy Meyers, whose six films as a director or writer/director have grossed more than a billion dollars. By email she wrote:

Men were still getting used to us being on set in the ’80s. (Men used to have photos of pinups on the set in the ’80s! I’m not kidding.)The only women around back then worked in costumes and hair and makeup. Today women are in every department and often department heads. There are still very few women in the camera department and that’s a shame. That seems to still be a real boy’s club. Today, most crew members are far more comfortable working for and with women.

Yet one thing has not changed: “Now, getting the job to be the director — that’s still an uphill battle,” Meyers said.

In addition to writing film reviews and essays for Truthdig, Carrie Rickey has been a film critic at The Philadelphia Inquirer and Village Voice, and an art critic at Artforum and Art in America. Rickey has taught at various institutions, including School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania, and has appeared frequently on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” MSNBC, and CNN.

What Happened to the Women Directors in Hollywood? Part 5: 2000–2017 was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

‘Moonlight’ Director Barry Jenkins Takes Home an ‘Embarassing’ Haul From The Criterion Closet — Watch

‘Moonlight’ Director Barry Jenkins Takes Home an ‘Embarassing’ Haul From The Criterion Closet — Watch
Earlier this January, Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” won Best Picture — Drama at the 74th Golden Globes after racking up widespread critical acclaim since its world premiere at Telluride last September. The film has recently racked up eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. In honor of his new film and all the recent accolade, the Criterion Collection invited Barry Jenkins to check out the famed Criterion Closet and pick out some films to take home. Watch the video below.

Read More: National Society of Film Critics Names ‘Moonlight’ Best Picture of 2016

Jenkins picks out a host of films from the closet that have special significance for him. Some of these films include the “John Cassavetes: Five Films” box set, which Jenkins describes as “foundational”; Krzysztof Kieślowski’s ten-hour long “Dekalog,” a film Jenkins once bought on Ebay because he “felt like he had to see it”; Mathieu Kassovitz’s “La Haine,
See full article at Indiewire »

Wamg Giveaway – Win Disney’s Queen Of Katwe on Blu-ray

Home audiences will cheer for Disney’s Queen of Katwe, which has earned widespread critical acclaim. Based on the vibrant true story of a young girl (Madina Nalwanga) from the streets of Uganda whose world changes when she is introduced to the game of chess, and, as a result of the support she receives from her family and community, is instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion. It is a remarkable story of perseverance against all odds that will leave viewers feeling humbled and inspired. According to director Mira Nair, “The triumph of the human spirit is not to weep for what we don’t have but to focus on what we do have and allow that to take us to a place we never imagined possible.” Disney’s heartwarming and triumphant tale arrives home on Digital HD on Jan.
See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »

Cinestaan, Film London’s Shakespeare adaptation 'The Hungry' begins shoot

  • ScreenDaily
Exclusive: Naseeruddin Shah and Tisca Chopra head the cast of UK-India co-production, which is a contemporary adaptation of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.

Production has started on Cinestaan Film Company and Film London’s Shakespeare adaptation The Hungry, with a cast including Naseeruddin Shah and Tisca Chopra.

Written and directed by Bornila Chatterjee, the UK-India co-production is a contemporary retelling of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, with the play’s themes of corruption, greed and revenge updated for a global audience.

Shah is known to international audiences for his roles in Monsoon Wedding and The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, while Chopra previously starred in Toronto title Qissa: The Tale Of A Lonely Ghost.

The cast also includes Arjun Gupta (Nurse Jackie), Neeraj Kabi (Viceroy’s House), Sayani Gupta (Margarita With A Straw) and Antonio Aakeel (City Of Tiny Lights).

Co-written and produced by Tanaji Dasgupta and Kurban Kassam, the revenge thriller was developed using Film London’s Microwave scheme
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Mel Gibson Doesn’t ‘Think It’s Fair’ That Nate Parker’s Rape Accusation Cast a Shadow Over ‘Birth of a Nation’

  • Indiewire
Mel Gibson Doesn’t ‘Think It’s Fair’ That Nate Parker’s Rape Accusation Cast a Shadow Over ‘Birth of a Nation’
Nate Parker’s film “The Birth of a Nation,” about Nat Turner’s slave rebellion, has received plenty of attention this year. Initially it was for its rapturous reception at the Sundance Film Festival, but months later it was for the resurgence of a 1999 rape accusation leveled against Parker and his co-writer Jean McGianni Celestin. While the film was modestly received upon its theatrical release, grossing $15 million against an $8.5 million budget, Parker’s past has arguably taken center stage in the discussion of “The Birth of a Nation.” In The Hollywood Reporter’s latest director’s roundtable, director Mel Gibson said that he didn’t believe it was fair that many people supposedly didn’t see Parker’s film because of the director’s past.

Read More: IndieWire’s Movie Podcast: Screen Talk (Episode 122) – Mel Gibson May Be Unforgivable, But How Is ‘Hacksaw Ridge’?

“He was cleared of all that stuff,
See full article at Indiewire »

Queen of Katwe Review

  • TheMovieBit
That much-loved, life-affirming subgenre, the underdog sports movie, rarely steers off course, sticking to a long established formula that seeks to uplift and inspire. Queen of Katwe, embodying all the upbeat inspiration of the very best Disney stories, is a true underdog drama. Accordingly, it clings tight to the genre’s archetypal beats. However, based as it is on truth, this story of a young chess prodigy living in the slums of Kampala, Uganda, is imbued with a quiet, heartening realism. Together with some rousing performances from its leads, Queen of Katwe gets away with its heavy reliance on convention – a refreshingly joyful underdog story where something is genuinely at stake. Director Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, Salaam Bombay!) conducts her film at an expert pace; despite a lengthy run-time ill suited to the family-friendly narrative, Queen of Katwe is efficiently structured. While it tells a story laden with hardship, Nair
See full article at TheMovieBit »

The Weekend Warrior 9/30/2016: Deepwater Horizon, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Masterminds

Welcome back to the Weekend Warrior, your weekly look at the new movies hitting theaters this weekend, as well as other cool events and things to check out.

This Past Weekend:

While the new movies reigned at the box office this past weekend, both Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven (Sony) and the animated Storks (Warner Bros.) didn’t fare nearly as well as our projections, both falling short by about $10 million. The Magnificent Seven, starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt, fared decently with $34.7million, which is about the average for Washington’s films, but the fourth highest opening for a Western after last year’s The Revenant, the animated Rango, and Cowboys and Aliens. Storks’ $21.3 million opening wasn’t great compared to other animated September releases with Sony still holding the September opening record with Hotel Transylvania 2, but it should continue to do well with no other animated movies opening for another month.
See full article at LRM Online »

'Queen of Katwe' Review: Inspirational Chess Movie Is Feel-Good Checkmate

'Queen of Katwe' Review: Inspirational Chess Movie Is Feel-Good Checkmate
Inspirational can be a dirty word at the movies, suggesting fake uplift and sugary excess. There's none of that in Queen of Katwe, the true story of a preteen chess prodigy from Uganda whose skill and backbone took her out of the village slums and onto a world stage. Directed by the great Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay, Monsoon Wedding, The Namesake), from a script by William Wheeler, the film – laced with grit and grace – hits you like a shot in the heart. Nair catches the thrum of real life without
See full article at Rolling Stone »

‘Queen of Katwe’: How Mira Nair Merged a Gritty African Slum Story with a Disney Movie

‘Queen of Katwe’: How Mira Nair Merged a Gritty African Slum Story with a Disney Movie
We all know what a heartwarming Disney sports drama feels like. Glossy, sentimental, going for rousing win moments. When Ugandan-Belizean Disney executive VP production Tendo Nagenda read Tim Crothers’ 2013 Espn magazine feature about Phiona Mutesi, a chess master who rose up from selling corn in the Kampala, Uganda slum of Katwe, he knew he’d found the right story. But he knew that if it was going to resonate, this couldn’t be soft-focus or glib. He had to find a director with the sensibility to keep it real.

For that, he approached veteran New York filmmaker Mira Nair, who has also lived in the Ugandan capital of Kampala for 27 years. He invited himself to tea, and she jumped on board.

They developed “Queen of Katwe” (September 23) with writer William Wheeler. Nair finally met Mutesi when she was in New York to play against Kasperov, she told me in our interview.
See full article at Thompson on Hollywood »

‘Queen of Katwe’: How Mira Nair Merged a Gritty African Slum Story with a Disney Movie

  • Indiewire
‘Queen of Katwe’: How Mira Nair Merged a Gritty African Slum Story with a Disney Movie
We all know what a heartwarming Disney sports drama feels like. Glossy, sentimental, going for rousing win moments. When Ugandan-Belizean Disney executive VP production Tendo Nagenda read Tim Crothers’ 2013 Espn magazine feature about Phiona Mutesi, a chess master who rose up from selling corn in the Kampala, Uganda slum of Katwe, he knew he’d found the right story. But he knew that if it was going to resonate, this couldn’t be soft-focus or glib. He had to find a director with the sensibility to keep it real.

For that, he approached veteran New York filmmaker Mira Nair, who has also lived in the Ugandan capital of Kampala for 27 years. He invited himself to tea, and she jumped on board.

They developed “Queen of Katwe” (September 23) with writer William Wheeler. Nair finally met Mutesi when she was in New York to play against Kasperov, she told me in our interview.
See full article at Indiewire »
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Showtimes | External Sites