Here’ s to what I hope will be a long, fruitful forum for all Reel Girlz to knock around ideas. Why, for instance, are we still reading studies that reveal startling numbers we thought would be erradicated twenty years after the onset of the women’s movement…
Martha Lauzen’s, The Celluloid Ceiling study from 2005 reads:
Over the last four years, the percentage of women working as directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors on the top 250 domestic grossing films has declined from 19% in 2001 to 16% in 2004. Women accounted for 7% of directors in 2005… This is less than the recent historical high of 11% recorded in 2000.
What kind of insane numbers are these? What is really going on?
I earned my graduate degree in film from Columbia University. There I had learned about the “GREAT” directors: D.W. Griffith, Sergei Eisenstein, François Truffaut, C.B DeMille, Frank Capra, etc. But it wasn’t until I strayed far from my graduate work, and quite by accident discovered that before 1920 there were more women in influential positions behind the scenes in movies than perhaps even today. Who were these female auteurs, and why hadn’t we learned about them in film school?
Little did I know that for the next decade my life would be a quest to answer these questions. Why did my film professors teach about the ‘father’ of cinema, D.W. Griffith, without teaching about the ‘mother,’ Alice Guy Blaché, who made the very first narrative film in history?
My archeological dig would produce, Reel Women: Pioneers of the Cinema, 1896 to the Present, the first book on the market to reveal the transformational role that women played in movies since movies began. From the book came ten DVD’s, Filmmakers on Film, which include interviews I conducted with over thirty contemporary filmmakers in Hollywood and Europe, as well as the CD-ROM, Reel Women: The Unknown Story, hosted by the gifted contemporary film pioneer, Jodie Foster.
What I hoped when I began Reel Women twenty years ago (!) is that the information I stumbled upon would at long last be INTEGRATED into film history, and not heaped in the garbage dump known as, “Women’s Studies”. To my mind, there is no such animal as Women’s Studies…there is only “The People’s History,” in this case, the people’s history of movies. That male film historians in the forties and fifties forgot to include the pioneering women who made as many advances as the pioneering men does not make the history of women’s remarkable acheivements any less valid.
However, a mere few months back, a young women who attended San Francisco State reported to me that not one woman filmmaker surfaced in her advanced film history lessons!
Clearly girlz…there is MUCH to blog about. As Agnes Varda said, “We have a lot of women now in the film business. It is in terms of consciousness that we have not got it right.”
I hope you find this the forum to unite and come up with solutions for a more conscious movie future for us all!
I hope enjoy your visit. Blog us with your insights!
Reel Women Media