After Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director many believed the floodgates to an ocean of opportunities had finally burst opened. Unfortunately, statistics have shown that the expected spillover of work has been a sustained drip at best. In fact, only eight of the 100 highest-grossing films of 2017 were directed by women.
Amy Adrion’s documentary Half the Picture gathers an impressive number of female directors to share their experiences of discrimination within the film industry. Through individuals like Ava DuVernay, Lena Dunham, Jill Soloway, Lynn Shelton, Miranda July, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Karyn Kusama, Kimberly Pierce, Catherine Hardwicke, Patricia Cardoso, Penelope Spheeris and many others, the depth of the systemic problem becomes shockingly clear. As studios try to spin narratives about not enough females in the selection pool, or that women are not interested in making genre films, Adrion’s film debunks this myth by showing there are numerous factors at play designed to marginalize female filmmakers.
Even when their previous films were box office hits, women must work even harder than their male counterparts to secure funding for future films. The most startling aspect of the film is the sheer scale of the problem. Everything from film schools, agents, publicists, and even prominent film review publications lack the gender parity needed to usher in the meaningful changing within the industry.
Though conventional in its structure, the film effectively shine a spotlight on how these the discriminatory practices that have impacted every aspect of these filmmakers’careers, even when picking up well-deserved awards. Half the Picture is a both a call to action and a reminder that there is still much work to do on the road to gender equality.
Saturday, May 26, 7 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox