Can you name any one big Hollywood female director? No right?
But if I asked you the same question just in regards to Bollywood, these names will instantly pop up. Gauri Shinde. Zoya Akhtar. Kiran Rao and even to an extent Farah Khan (although predominantly in entertainment, but she is still an extremely popular director in Bollywood).
The reason why I am pointing out this difference is because if we take Hollywood, then only 1 woman has ever won the Best Director Oscar, and to further the embarrassment, in the 88 years of the Oscars, only 4 women have been nominated in the Best Director category.
And just remind me again, because I am blanking out here, what exactly does Hollywood claim to be and hold over other developing industries? Right… the word we are looking for is progressive.
For quite a long time, just like its country, Hollywood too has held its head high in pride over how progressive they are and how they don’t have to deal with under-representation because they are all about equality and all.
But I believe that the bad side of Hollywood has come out severely into the light especially in the past few years, with many groups making their voices heard about how bad the situation actually is there.
From under and even stereotyped representation of the black community to the extreme wage gap that exists for male and female actors and to now this problem of practically no recognition of female directors.
In order to show exactly how wrong and unfair this is, let me show you 4 years where a male director won an Oscar over a women director:
1. Ava DuVernay: Selma (2014)
The main reason why Ava is on the top of this list is because not just that she did not win an Oscar, but the fact that she was not even nominated in the first place.
Selma, which released in 2014 and was about the 1965 voting rights marches that were from Selma to Montgomery, and led by Martin Luther King. Jr, James Bevel, and many others.
The film is considered a classic and was heavily appreciated by both the critics and the audience at large.
But while Selma was nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Song, DuVernay was very obviously snubbed from being nominated in the director category.
The award eventually went to Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance) director Alejandro G. Iñárritu.
2. Valerie Faris (and husband Jonathan Dayton): Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
No one can deny that movies like ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ are difficult to come by and are rare and precious in their own right.
That is why it is doubly infuriating that the Oscars very conveniently forgot to give a nod to the talent that this woman has and how she managed to create a masterpiece and that too on her first try!
For that much, Faris deserved at least a nomination at the 79th Academy Award which ultimately went to Martin Scorsese for The Departed.
3. Julie Taymor: Frida (2002)
Julie Taymor created a wonderful and personally much-appreciated film on the life on the famous surrealist Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.
I really love some of Kahlo’s works and thought that the movie was pretty good, but I was majorly disappointed when I recently found that when the 75th Academy Award nominations came out Taymor’s name was nowhere to be seen.
While Salma Hayek was nominated for the Best Actress category and the film did win Best Original Score, the fact that Julie Taymor was not even nominated was an extremely sad thing to see.
4. Deniz Gamze Ergüven: Mustang (2015)
This is one movie that you just have to see in order to truly grasp the talent of the director and how brilliantly the story has been narrated.
Where we have seen foreign who have directed non-English movies being nominated for Best Director at the Oscars, I don’t think I really need to point out the utter hypocrisy and stupidity to not nominate Ergüven for directing an awesome movie.
And to be honest, the loss by Ergüven is one that truly bothers me because the Best Director award at the 88th Academy Award went to The Revenant director Alejandro G. Iñárritu. Which to be frank, was not even that good of a movie, at least not as good as Mustang or perhaps even Spotlight.
In that aspect, though Bollywood might have its fair share of problems, I believe it is a slight comfort to know that women directors are getting more publicity and attention from not just the general audience but even the critics.
And no matter how much we know that these award shows are bought and how everything is pre-decided, at the same time, we are starting to recognize the contribution of female directors to Bollywood industry.
It is rather ironic, that America projects itself as progressive, but it totally objectifies women.
This post was originally published on ED Times.