Girls on Film: A gift guide for film fans
It was clear from the first moments of 2013 that this wasn't going to be a banner year for female filmmakers. Last year was packed with excellent films helmed by women, from Dee Rees' Pariah to Lynne Ramsay's We Need to Talk About Kevin. In contrast, less than five percent of 2013's film slate consisted of movies directed by women. We're now marching into an awards season characterized by op-eds with depressingly familiar titles like "Women Directors Nearly Absent in 2013 Awards Season."
One of the problems discussed in the above piece is the idea of risk — that choosing not to employ filmmakers who happen to be female is a way to minimize the risk of a box-office bomb. It's a weak argument, of course; women have offered great films for years, from arthouse greats to moneymaking powerhouses. But part of the problem is remembering that those movies exist — and keeping them alive in the forefront of our minds and in popular conversation.
The gift-giving season is the perfect time to fill in some of those holes. Instead of buying someone the latest popular flick on DVD, reach into history.
THE OSCAR CROWD
Giving an Oscar-centric gift set is just about the easiest present there is, because there are only four films in history directed by women that have earned a Best Director nomination. They are:
Lina Wertmuller for Seven Beauties: This film focuses on a criminal sent to the army, who escapes during World War II, only to get captured by the Germans and sent to a prison camp. The film is also part of "The Lina Wertmuller Collection."
Jane Campion for The Piano: The 1993 film stars Holly Hunter as a mute woman who communicates through her piano. She is sold into marriage with one man while being drawn to another. Though Campion didn't win the Oscar for Best Director, the film nabbed Best Actress, Supporting Actress, and Original Screenplay.
Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation: Following in her famous father's footsteps, Coppola courted big success with her second feature, which follows a blossoming friendship between an aging actor (Bill Murray) and a recent graduate (Scarlett Johansson) experiencing culture shock in Tokyo. Coppola won an Oscar for Best Screenplay, as the film enjoyed an impressive $120 million gross on a budget of $4 million.
Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker: Finally, in 2009, Bigelow became the first woman to win a Best Director Oscar. The win solidified her standing as the female director at the top of every movie wish-list, as she won for her gritty look at a bomb disposal team during the Iraq War.
This doesn't, however, mean that the countless other female-directed films got no love. Nominees who missed Oscar nods while earning other recognition include: Debra Granik for the Jennifer Lawrence-starring Winter's Bone, Marleen Gorris for Antonia's Line (Best Foreign Language Film winner), Deepa Mehta for Water, and Penny Marshall for Awakenings. And that's on top of the nominees and winners for short and documentary films, like Jessica Yu's Documentary Short winner Breathing Lessons.