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Are Women Directors Entering a Golden Age? Studio 360 Talks to Shelton, Polley

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by Anne Thompson
July 18, 2012 2:35 PM
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"Your Sister's Sister"
Lynn Shelton

Are we entering a golden age for women directors in Hollywood? I've been trying to figure out the troubled relationship between women and the film business for decades, so I unloaded for Studio 360's Kurt Andersen, who also talked with Sarah Polley ("Take This Waltz") and Lynn Shelton ("Your Sister's Sister"), about how the industry favors independents--as its glass ceiling remains intact.

Clearly, Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar win for directing "The Hurt Locker"--the first for a woman--has not brought any significant change. She remains the exception that proves the rule. "She’s known for being a man’s director, " I tell Anderson. "She puts men in her movies, she does action, she’s not doing female genres. And she’s resolutely not interested in doing them. But what she did was do them independently. And the Bin Laden movie that’s coming up later this year was raised overseas as well. And if women can raise their own funding, then they can get the movies made.” (My "Hurt Locker" interview with Bigelow is below.)

Luke Kirby and Michelle Williams in 'Take This Waltz'

While women directed only 5% of the 250 major movies that came out last year in the US., the independent sector in the low-cost digital age offers more opportunities than ever for women. I argue that women are thriving in the new collaborative, barter indie economy in which actor/writer/director/producers share roles, from Shelton to Amy Seimetz:  “All these filmmakers are sort of roaming the country helping each other make films in all these different locations and all these different ranges of experiences and it works. Women are really good at that kind of thing.”

Shelton tells Anderson that she can just “pick up a camera, and call [my] friends and say, ‘let’s go make a movie!’ And if we fail, like, we’ll just shove it under the rug.” (My interview with Shelton is below.)

Polley points out that Hollywood offers most women directors a choice of romantic comedies or dramas. “Women aren’t really trusted with anything else right now,” she said. “I know female filmmakers who would love to make an action film or a horror film or some kind of thriller and they just don’t get the financing for those kinds of movies. So I think that women aren’t necessarily trusted with [that] subject matter.”

Why does Hollywood continue to hire men to make movies for men, such as Hasbro's "Battleship" and Disney's "John Carter"? Check out the Studio 360 podcast below.

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