Jane Campion writes a new chapter in the story of inclusiveness framed by the big screen: she is the third woman to win in the director category at the Golden Globes, awarded in the 2022 edition that has just been held in the United States.
In addition to having won like best director for his film The power of the dog, he also takes home another golden globe for best drama.
Her victory is to be framed and hung on the trophy wall of the many women who have been helping to change the course of history in recent years.
The name of Jane Campion was already inextricably linked to the pink quotas called into question by the famous formula of the rite “And the Winner is…”.
In fact, we are talking about the woman who twenty-eight years ago won the Academy Awards statuette for her masterpiece Piano lessons (1993), a work with which she also won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival (the first and for almost thirty years the only woman in history).
In 2022, the New Zealand director was awarded two Golden Globes for the first time, exactly the number – and the same categories – that characterized Chloé Zhao’s triumph twelve months ago.
The young Chinese naturalized American director, screenwriter, film producer and editor was in fact awarded in 2021 for Best Drama Film and Best Director thanks to her Nomadland, champion of prizes as well as of box office. Compared to Campion, Zhao in 2021 had received one more nomination, the one for best screenplay.
And compared to last year there is another number less in terms of inclusiveness with an eye to the female world: three women in the best director category (Zhao, Emerald Fennell for A promising woman and Regina King for That night in Miami …) against this year’s two women (Maggie Gyllenhaal for The dark daughter, as well as Jane Campion).
Barbra Streisand was the pioneer
We continue to talk about the “third woman in history” and bring up Chloé Zhao as the second, but first of all we must talk about the one who paved the way for the Golden Globes victories in the squad.
Barbra Streisand in 1984 received the Golden Globe for Best Director, the first woman to win that award. He tore it from the usual gnarled and careless hands (the male ones, to speak a little stereotypes, allow us at least some clichés about the manicure …) thanks to his Yentl, a musical and dramatic film she directed and starred in.
Taken from the story Yentl The Yeshiva Boy by Polish Jewish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer (contained in the collection Gimpel the idiot), was originally published in Yiddish around 1960 and then saw prints in English in 1983. In 1975 Isaac Bashevis Singer’s successful literary work was celebrated by the theatrical adaptation of the same name, which quickly became a classic of the musical genre.
Also that year the name of the fair sex (pass us this stereotype too, we will talk about it later) that triumphed received two golden orbs, exactly as happened a few decades later to his heirs Zhao and Campion. The only difference is that clearly Yentl it did not compete in the Best Drama Film category but in the one dedicated to the musical and comedy genre.
Also that year Barbra Streisand was also nominated for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Film. A true forerunner to which we owe a lot, not only us women but in general we humans. Because the sensitivity that characterizes the director’s eye declined to the female is something undoubted. It is a different touch from what usually characterizes his eye: not a better touch but something that differs and that titillates unusual emotional strings. Definable unusual precisely because the cinema until recently was almost totally monopolized by the “white male”, ergo the point of view of the woman (even more of the “non-white” woman) has been missing for entire decades.
The point of view of the woman is a type of brushstroke that the whole of humanity must be able to enjoy in order to fully understand the human soul.
The cinematographic frescoes that the directors are offering us with enormous sacrifices and great determination are a heritage of humanity to be protected and promoted for the future.
It is no mystery that a woman has to work much harder than a male colleague in order to stand out in any field, including directing.
In 1983 Barbra Streisand became the first woman to write, produce, direct and star in a major studio film with her Yentl. Recall that that historic film was also awarded the Oscar for best soundtrack.
Women emerging in a pandemic: are Covid and female triumph connected?
A question that the whole world already asked itself last year, when there were many female presences at the major international film awards, is the following: Is it possible that it is just a coincidence that women are emerging in the world of the seventh art in this particular historical period?
Since the pandemic broke out, women have begun to assert themselves more, signing chapeau film masterpieces. In addition to signing them, with those masterpieces they manage to enter the shortlist of awards from which up until the pre-pandemic period they seemed to be far more excluded than their colleagues.
Already last year, faced with the triumph of Chloé Zhao with his collection of prizes for Nomadland, the question arose spontaneously …
And the names of Emerald Fennell for A promising woman and Regina King for That night in Miami …, all films released in the context of the health emergency, made that question even more poignant: why did the pandemic drive out women?
The University of San Diego’s “Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film” revealed that 2020 was the one with the highest number of films signed by female directors. The percentage of “female directors” is 16%. From Wonder Woman 1984 to Birds of Prey, from Emma to Mulan, from Black Window a – of course – Nomadland, 2020 was a year in which female power was amplified by the megaphone of the big screen.
Director Cathy Yan directed Birds of Prey and the phantasmagoric rebirth of Harley Quinn; Patty Jenkins directed Gal Gadot on the set of Wonder Woman 1984; the American photographer and director Autumn de Wilde gave birth (indeed: in the dark in the room, even if in 2020 the rooms were unfortunately off-limits due to the lockdown) Emma; New Zealand director Niki Caro took care of Mulan and Australian director Cate Shortland of Black Widow with Scarlett Johansson, in addition to the multiple award-winning Chloé Zhao for Nomadland starring Frances McDormand.
The doubt that the large presence of female workers in the cinema in the full boom of the health emergency suggested to many of us at the time was that relating to the “greater sacrifice” of women in Hollywood (and surroundings) compared to their male colleagues … Let’s hope we’re wrong, even if the doubt that often creeps in is very difficult to eradicate. Become solid like veins in marble, alas.
In 2021 there was a drop in female attendance in cinema
After the remarkable numbers of female cinema recorded in 2020, 2021 saw the number of films by female directors in decline: from Campion to Gyllenhaal, it was only 12%.
The numbers were given by the “Celluloid Ceiling” study published by San Diego State’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. “Basing our perceptions on a limited number of high-profile women can lead to erroneous conclusions about the status of women in this profession,” said Martha Lauzen, founder of the center.
After the successes at the box office and at the awards of 2019 and 2020, in 2021, the titles directed by the fair sex (We use it only to not keep repeating “women”, even if this expression is hated by many of us, especially for the topic dealt with here, an argument for which “fair sex” should finally retire. Kind: very determined, combative and not a little aggressive, if anything).
A slightly higher percentage of female directors was registered by expanding the films in question to the 250 most profitable in 2021, from which a 17% emerges compared to 18% in 2020. However, it must be considered that this study does not include in the top 100 the films that have triumphed in these hours at the Golden Globes, namely those of Jane Campion and Maggie Gyllenhaal (both candidates and that of Campion winner).
The aforementioned films were shot for Netflix, which only released them for a few days in theaters and didn’t release the box office results, so they weren’t included in the study. Same thing happened for other important directors, from Rebecca Hall (Passing) to Halle Berry (Bruised) which debuted their works directly in streaming.
Already in 2019 the trend of female directors was on the rise
Although the doubt remains that the increase in female attendance in the world of cinema, especially behind the lens of the camera, is in some way linked to the Covid pandemic, it should be noted that, in any case, already in 2019 the trend of female directors seemed to be in ascent.
In addition to the chair from director to sit on ladies and not gentlemen, in 2019 the set also proved more inclined to welcome female roles in blockbuster films (ok that that was the year of Little Women by Greta Gerwig, where – unless dressing Brad Pitt and George Clooney as damsels, shaving them off before the takes – women had to be hired, whether small or not …).
In 2021, on the other hand, female producers (from 30% to 32%) and executive producers (from 21% to 26%) increased, while screenwriters (17%) and cinematographers (6%) remained stable.
We hope that the trend towards greater inclusiveness, female and not only, will always be on the rise, even when the health emergency will finally be a very bad memory.