Sunday 30 May 2010

Herstory: Women in Film

Over the past few days I have been reading quite a few blog posts on women in film, particularly on women writers and directors and feature films, and the nagging question (or questions of) why there are so few of us.

In a recent post on her blog, Wellywood Woman,  Marian Evans, New Zealand's recent first woman to graduate with a PhD in Creative Writing, noted that 'women wrote only 16% of the films that the NZFC funded for production, from 2003-2009, and participated at a low level in other NZFC initiatives, with some notable, occasional, exceptions.' She also writes that only 9% of all features made in New Zealand over the past seven years had women directors or writers.

Writer, director, and blogger Kid in the Front Row blogged about the 'Missing Voice of Women in Film'. He notes 'I think, as an industry, we marginalize women - and, in the main, give them fluffy rom-coms to make. And we have a tendency to think that, if it's a big franchise or an 'important' movie, we give them to the men to make. I think this is wrong.'

Zoje Stage guest-blogged on Kid, saying 'The history of humanity is based on gender inequality and the intentional suppression of women. As time has gone on, things have changed in many parts of the world - creating the illusion that, for the most part, men and women live in an equal-opportunity world. But in reality, this just isn’t the case.' She continues, 'The structures that define human civilization were designed by men, to better, praise, or entertain other men... Everything about how we - men and women - live is dependent upon us all accepting that the male-created models are what we can and should strive for. In addition, there has been a systemic injustice done to women across the centuries in that, even when women were able to accomplish significant things in fields not truly open to them, the historians of the day dismissed their efforts - and subsequently, much of the history of women and their contributions have been erased or forgotten.'

These are all interesting, highly relevant and important observations and arguments but in this post I don't wish to enter this discussion. Suffice to say that my life experience as well as my university research regarding discrimination/equality and women's economic status and rights, have taught me that all these statements have very real merit. If we (women in particular) would truly examine the world we live in, instead of being as complacent as we are most of the time, we would see these truths in our very own lives, everyday.

Instead of going deeper into this matter, I would like to take this opportunity to start writing about the contribution women have made to the film industry since its very beginnings. Please bear with me, time for research and writing is scarce at the moment but I shall do my best to do these incredible women at least a little justice. These women should be celebrated, as much as their male colleagues are, and I hope that their journeys will be an inspiration when we, female or male, feel weighted down by the obstacles we face when pursuing our dreams of writing, acting, directing; telling our stories through film and theatre.

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