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Only One Female Filmmaker Invited to Join the Academy as a Director; Only 28% of Invitees Are Women

by Inkoo Kang
June 27, 2014 11:50 AM
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Gina Prince-Bythewood

Only 75 74 of the 271 invitees announced yesterday to join the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences were women. 

That constitutes a paltry 27% of invitees. 

It's not just the numbers that paint a clear picture of Hollywood's institutional sexism. Gina Prince-Bythewood was the only female filmmaker to be sought for the directors' category. Jennifer Lee, whose Frozen became the fifth highest-grossing film ever earlier this year, was invited as well, but only for the animation category. Iconic directors Claire Denis and Chantal Akerman were only considered for the writers' category, while male foreign directors like Thomas Vinterberg and Hany-Abu Assad were invited to join the directors' group proper.  

For those counting at home, these new invitations bring the Academy directing numbers to a total of 388, with only 37 -- or less than 10% -- of those being women. 

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Sally Hawkins, and Lupita Nyong'o were some of the higher-profile actresses who received recognition from the Academy, but even the actors' numbers are hideously lopsided (14 men to 6 women) -- an undeniable illustration of the devaluation of women's stories on the big screen and the consequent relative lack of opportunities afforded female thespians.

After becoming only the fourth person in Oscar history to receive two Best Picture nods in the same year, producer Megan Ellison finally received her invite as well. 

The Academy invites new members every year; total membership stays around the 6000 mark. Under CEO Dawn Hudson and President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the organization seems to be making some efforts to diversify. 

Below are the female Academy invitees in each category: 

Actors (6 women out of 20 invitees)
Beth Grant – “The Artist,” “No Country for Old Men”
Sally Hawkins – “Blue Jasmine,” “Happy-Go-Lucky”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – “Enough Said,” “Planes”
Kelly Macdonald – “Brave,” “No Country for Old Men”
Lupita Nyong'o – “Non-Stop,” “12 Years a Slave”
June Squibb – “Nebraska,” “About Schmidt”

Casting Directors (15 women out of 22 invitees)
Simone Bar – “The Monuments Men,” “The Book Thief”
Nikki Barrett – “The Railway Man,” “The Great Gatsby”
Risa Bramon Garcia – “Speed,” “Wall Street”
Michelle Guish – “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “Nanny McPhee”
Ros Hubbard – “Romeo & Juliet,” “The Mummy”
Allison Jones – “The Way, Way Back,” “The Heat”
Christine King – “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” “Star
Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith”
Beatrice Kruger – “To Rome with Love,” “The American”
Marci Liroff – “Mean Girls,” “Pretty in Pink”
Debbie McWilliams – “Skyfall,” “Quantum of Solace”
Robi Reed – “For Colored Girls,” “Do the Right Thing”
Gail Stevens – “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Slumdog Millionaire”
Lucinda Syson – “Gravity,” “Fast and & Furious 6”
Fiona Weir – “J. Edgar,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”
Ronnie Yeskel – “The Sessions,” “Atlas Shrugged Part 1”

Cinematographers (0 women out of 5 invitees)

Costume Designers (4 women out of 7 invitees)
Pascaline Chavanne – “Renoir,” “Augustine”
Daniela Ciancio – “The Great Beauty,” “Il Divo”
Beatrix Aruna Pasztor – “Great Expectations,” “Good Will Hunting”
Karyn Wagner – “Lovelace,” “The Green Mile”

Designers (6 women out of 14 invitees)
Susan Benjamin – “Saving Mr. Banks,” “The Blind Side”
Marcia Hinds – “I Spy,” “The Public Eye”
Sonja Brisbane Klaus – “Prometheus,” “Robin Hood”
Diane Lederman – “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “Tower Heist”
Heather Loeffler – “American Hustle,” “Silver Linings Playbook”
Christa Munro – “Jack Reacher,” “Erin Brockovich”

Directors (1 women out of 11 invitees)
Gina Prince-Bythewood – “The Secret Life of Bees,” “Love and Basketball”

Documentary (6 women out of 18 invitees)
Dayna Goldfine – “The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden,” “Ballets Russes”
Julie Goldman – “God Loves Uganda,” “Gideon’s Army”
Lucy Massie Phenix – “Regret to Inform,” “Word Is Out”
Enat Sidi – “Detropia,” “Jesus Camp”
Molly Thompson – “The Unknown Known,” “Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer”
Cynthia Wade – “Mondays at Racine,” “Freeheld”

Executives (3 women out of 18 invitees)
Nancy Carson
Michelle Raimo Kouyate
Kim Roth

Film Editors (5 women out of 12 invitees)
Sabrina Plisco – “The Smurfs 2,” “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow”
Tatiana S. Riegel – “Million Dollar Arm,” “The Way, Way Back”
Julie Rogers – “Wreck-It Ralph,” “Kit Kittredge: An American Girl”
Joan Sobel – “Admission,” “A Single Man”
Tracey Wadmore-Smith – “About Last Night,” “Death at a Funeral”

Makeup Artists and Hairstylists (5 women out of 5 invitees)
Vivian Baker – “Oz The Great and Powerful,” “Conviction”
Adruitha Lee – “Dallas Buyers Club,” “12 Years a Slave”
Robin Mathews – “Dallas Buyers Club,” “The Runaways”
Anne Morgan – “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” “A Little Bit of Heaven”
Gloria Pasqua-Casny – “The Lone Ranger,” “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”

Members-at-Large (1 women out of 9 invitees)
Jody Levin

Music (2 women out of 10 invitees)
Kristen Anderson-Lopez – “Frozen,” “Winnie the Pooh”
Angie Rubin – “Pitch Perfect,” “Sex and the City”

Producers (4 women out of 13 invitees)
Megan Ellison – “American Hustle,” “Her”
Nicola Giuliano – “The Great Beauty,” “This Must Be the Place”
Lynette M. Howell – “The Place beyond the Pines,” “Blue Valentine”
Tracey Seaward – “Philomena,” “The Queen”

Public Relations (5 women out of 9 invitees)
Nancy Bannister
Christine Batista
Karen Hermelin
Marisa McGrath Liston
Bettina R. Sherick

Short Films and Feature Animation (4 women out of 26 invitees)
Jennifer Lee – “Frozen,” “Wreck-It Ralph”
Lauren MacMullan – “Get a Horse!,” “Wreck-It Ralph”
Dorothy McKim – “Get a Horse!,” “Meet the Robinsons”
Selma Vilhunen – “Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitta? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?),” “The Crossroads”

Sound (1 women out of 21 invitees)
Ai-Ling Lee – “Godzilla,” “300: Rise of an Empire”

Visual Effects (0 women out of 19 invitees)

Writers (4 women out of 19 invitees)
Chantal Akerman – “A Couch in New York,” “Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles”
Claire Denis – “White Material,” “Beau Travail”
Diane Kurys – “For a Woman,” “Entre Nous”
Melisa Wallack – “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Mirror Mirror”

Associates (3 women out of 10 invitees)
Melanie Ramsayer
Beth Swofford
Meredith Wechter

[via THR]

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  • hyperion | July 9, 2014 5:03 PMReply

    I don't understand -- what has Gina Prince-Bythewood ever done that warrants this honor? Yeah, yeah, woman of color etc. Who cares if the filmmaker isn't that good? And Gina isn't that good. Here are some names: Lisa Cholodenko, Tamara Jenkins, Sarah Polley, Jane Campion, Kathryn Bigelow, Dee Rees. I'm sure there are others. But this woman? No.

    Please don't put me in bed, however, with the mostly male idiots who've commented so far. There is sexism, there is racism. God, if you don't know that by now you either don't work in the business or you're under 30 and simply don't know what you're talking about.

  • anonymous | June 30, 2014 5:10 PMReply

    The real problem is that those on the board and in the Academy executive committees with the power to promote are actually (much like cops, power-hungry), motivated and drawn to the job in order to advance their own agendas (i.e. old white males letting in their other old white males buddies) out of self-interest (and in hopes that they will stack the odds in their own favor for awards). This is not unlike the problem in the music branch, where one board member tried to use his access to e-mail lists in order to advance his award chances. I believe that many of these branch directors are actually even trying to hinder the advancement of women, minorities and especially the young, who they are envious of because they see them as being too green, too "lucky," or too undeserving, even when they are not. Oscars and Academy membership are not unlike the first laurels given in Rome to great war generals. The Roman Senate could decided whether to throw a celebration (called a "Triumph") where the laurels would or wouldn't be given out to a war general when he came home from victory, and which was very politically motivated by the same petty judgments (and by whether a candidate was popular or envied and therefore needed to be "thwarted"). They say that even Caesar was murdered because he dared to wear his "award flair" in public after the ceremony, a faux pas, which irked (and made jealous) the Senators. So the Academy "Senators" are much the same -- they want to haze potential new members because they are jealous of the imagined leg up that women, minorities and youth are getting and they want to impeded that in order to stack the odds more in their own favor, vis-a-vis receiving awards and getting the jobs that those awards might bring. There is no other reason to explain why some award nominees and winners have been overlooked for membership in past years, whereas others who are white and male and with thinner resumes, have been invited in. Some branches are worse than others, with actors and writers branches being more open-minded and other more technical craft branches being stuck in the mud of the past. This list at a mere 28% is progress, but not much... Hopefully next year will be better now that there is an actual push to make it more fair and inclusive.

  • Tieuel Legacy | June 29, 2014 9:28 PMReply

    What is the overall percentage of men to women in each category? Aren't there, at least, 3 times more men than women participating overall?

  • NeverTooEarly MoviePredictions | June 29, 2014 4:41 PMReply

    I don't think it's fair to call Jennifer Lee's invite "only to the animation branch", but the point of the article is true: They do need more women in the academy.

    Since academy membership begins with being sponsored by two existing members of one's given branch, perhaps we shouldn't bemoan that women writer-directors are being invited to the writers branch, but rather asking what the writers branch is doing right that the directors branch could learn from.

    Have the women directors (and male allies) who are already in the academy thought about organizing themselves to make sure women directors get sponsored for membership? With a concerted effort, even a few existing members could start to put a dent in those statistics within a few years.

  • Gadfly | June 29, 2014 5:04 AMReply

    How about instead of bemoaning how few women were invited, and thus undermining their accomplishment, we discuss who was qualified and capable but not invited?

    I'm sick of articles that just go: look, not enough women. Who's missing? Why? What are we going to do about it?

  • Mike | June 29, 2014 1:17 AMReply

    I would agree. I don't see sexism in the Academy Invitees at all. For instance, in the technical fields like Sound Editing, Film Editing, and Sound Mixing. There aren't very many women present in those fields, but it's not sexism women tend to have different interests from men. At this years Oscars "Gravity" won in all technical categories and men accepted the Oscar for each category.

  • Whatever | June 29, 2014 1:01 PM

    Uh "different interests"? Sorry, Mike, but statistics show over and over that women graduate film school in equal proportion to men. They may get different promotions, different mentorships, and different financing, but it's hardly the case that they have "different interests."

  • Francesco | June 28, 2014 7:10 AMReply

    One correction: Nicola Giuliano, the Italian producer, is a man.

    Nicola is mostly a male name in Ital6.

  • Santi | June 27, 2014 12:32 PMReply

    Come on, the Academy is full of lightweights, one-hit wonders and has beens who haven't worked in years. The Duplasses are at least interesting. While I agree that some of the people they invite are ridiculous and by all means there should be a lot more women, you can champion someone without the need to attack others.

    Sofia Coppola was invited to join both the Directors Branch and the Writers Branch shortly after her win and nomination in 2004. As you can only be a member of one branch, she chose to join the Writers Branch (I tried to add a link to the 2004 invitees list but it looks like they think it's spam)

    And to suggest that Jennifer Lee being part of the Animation Branch is some sort of demotion or consolation price is kind of insulting.

  • SP | June 28, 2014 4:29 AM

    I agree that the article's intimation that Jennifer Lee's invitation to the Animation branch instead of the Directors branch is indicative of institutional sexism is extraordinarily off base. Is there any record of a director known primarily for animation being invited to the Directors branch instead of the Animation branch? Should Hayao Miyazaki be insulted by once again being invited to the join the Animation branch instead of the Directors branch? Jennifer Lee was invited to the Animation branch because she was nominated and won for directing an animated movie, not because of a sexist conspiracy to keep women out of the directors branch.

    And while I agree that Chantal Akerman and Claire Denis are more than worthy of being invited to the Directors branch as well as the Writers branch, contrasting them with Thomas Vinterberg and Hany Abu-Assad is intellectually dishonest. Vinterberg and Abu-Assad were invited to the Directors branch for directing films nominated for the Foreign Language Oscar this year. The director of a Foreign Language nominee is almost always invited into the Directors branch if they are not already a member, and this is true even if the director is a woman, including Susanne Bier after winning the Oscar for In a Better World and Claudia Llosa after being nominated for The Milk of Sorrow. In some ways it's more impressive that Denis and Akerman were invited by the writers without the benefit of a nomination, even if both should have been invited in long ago (as should have Vinterberg and Abu-Assad, especially since Abu-Assad had already had a film nominated for the Foreign Language Oscar prior to this year.)

    While it's obvious that the Academy needs to do better than inviting a list of only 28% women into its ranks, citing these examples as evidence of Hollywood's institutional sexism is wrongheaded, especially when there's no shortage of real examples to point out.

  • josiangf | June 27, 2014 12:32 PMReply

    Oh, the humanity. You ever wonder why some fields are far out surpassed by women than men, and visa versa? Women have specific interests, right? That's a thing. Men generally aren't into the whole fashion thing as much as women generally are. I don't see the sexism as much as I see a gap that's being filled gradually, and has been filled gradually over the last few decades. It will take time to get to more balanced numbers, but for the most part there will never be a balance and it has nothing to do with sexism or a glass ceiling.

  • Sexist | June 29, 2014 1:06 PM

    "Different interests" is simply wrong. 1) a symptom of the problem. Women are taught to care about clothing, make-up, etc from a young age, while men are taught to ignore that. Why's that? institutional sexism! 2) Different actual interests - not the case. Women graduate in EQUAL PROPORTION TO MEN from film school. Equal. Not different. Not slightly skewed. Equal. This indicates - better than any "anecdotal evidence" of "this one time I met a woman who didn't want to direct" - that women have THE SAME INTERESTS AS MEN when it comes to film.

    These kinds of arguments are PRECISELY the same arguments, by the way, that dictated that "African Americans don't want to sit at the lunch counter" or "women don't want to work outside the home." It's quite frankly myopic bull.

    As far as the fields women "surpass" men in - those fields are, again, fields women are encouraged to go into (see: institutional sexism). You ever wonder why those fields are NEVER the fields that get the most accolades? Can you tell me who won best make-up last year? What about best director or producer? How about the simple lack of nomination at all for casting? Ever think there might be something more to that than the nonsense you're spewing about women's interests?

    That's like me saying men don't want to cook because more women cook at home (clearly not the case). Men don't want to be teachers because more women do. You can't look at the effect and claim cause. It's a fallacious argument to begin with, and statistically irrelevant. Gee, it must be the case that more men want to get AIDS than women, since they tend to have and transmit it more. Or there could be other factors at play.

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