The first globally watched event on the calendar to set the tone for the film and production industry overall is the Academy Awards, set to take place on 9 February 2020. Unfortunately, not a single female director has been nominated this year – yet again.
According to The New York Times, actress Issa Rae said it all with: “Congratulations to those men,” on announcing the five nominees for best director at this year’s Oscars — this despite Greta Gerwig, director of Little Women and Lulu Wang of The Farewell as contenders.
While the The Farewell actress Nora Lum, known by stage name Awkwafina, became the first person of Asian descent to win best lead actress for a film at this year’s Golden Globe ceremony, she didn’t make the Oscars acting nominations.
This is what prompted a return of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, with Cynthia Erivo of Harriet the only person of colour to feature among this year’s acting 20 nominees.
As they’re seen as the crème de la crème of the global film industry, it’s no wonder the Oscars continue to be criticised for lack of diversity.
Especially disappointing as I remember the hope when Elle reported last year that “the Oscars will be a more woman-friendly in 2020,” with 50% of the 842 new Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science members who vote on who should get each coveted award female, and 29% of them people of colour.
So why are females and people of colour still not being recognised for their work behind the scenes?
PBS reports that Stacy L. Smith, director of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California, commented that this year’s Oscar nominations were particularly frustrating as 2019 was a breakout year for female directors.
There’s a complete disconnect between objective criteria of merit and what we are seeing in the nominations for directing at the Academy Awards... This is why #TimesUp exists — to ensure women in entertainment and across industries get the opportunities and recognition they deserve. We won’t stop fighting until they do.It might be time to take a page from elsewhere. The 71st Cannes Film Festival, for example, trended for the right reasons in 2018, as diversity was front and foremost with the #CannesYouSeeUs hashtag.
Yolonda Brinkley, creator of Beyond Borders: Diversity in Cannes was inspired by “marginalised populations struggling to have their voices heard and their stories told,” and so created the independent filmmaker movement promoting inclusion at the world's most prestigious film event.
A+ adds that Brinkley’s independent event comes at a time where “the ways we watch TV and movies have evolved, and it's time for the talent in front of and behind the camera to do the same.”
This is especially pertinent as Variety points out that only one film directed by a woman has ever received the Palme d'Or award – Jane Campion in 1993 for The Piano, with Sofia Coppola the first woman in more than 50 years to win the Best Director award, in 2017.
Despite these inroads, Dazed Digital reports that not a single film by a black director has won either the Palme d'Or or the Best Director prize at the festival. This in turn strengthened the #TimesUp movement.
That’s why a symbolic “women’s march” featuring 82 women from the industry took place at the Cannes Film Festival last year. Deadline confirms that they represented the 82 films directed by women and selected in Competition since the first ever edition of the festival. With competition jury president Cate Blanchett giving a #TimesUp reading.
It’s time to stand up and renew the call for #TimesUp.
Afterall, PBS confirms that across all categories, a record 62 women were nominated for Academy Awards, which accounts for about a third of the 2020 Oscars nominees overall. So there is progress. Here’s holding thumbs for 2021…