Of the 61 films submitted for the foreign-language Oscar, 12 were directed by women. Check their resumes, and many are veterans who have been churning out films for years. Around the world, somehow, women find it a lot easier to make movies than they do here in the United States. The feminist movement in this country has come and gone, leaving many women striving to make their way in the workplace, yet in Hollywood the state of support for women directors remains woeful. Even when someone brilliant comes along like Karen Moncrieff, who wrote and directed the 2002 Sundance hit “Blue Car” and this year’s just-released “The Dead Girl,” it’s hard to summon up much optimism for her future.
Even the most talented women, who usually establish themselves with low-budget indie fare, somehow wind up directing movies for television, lame romantic comedies or studio family films that no self-respecting male would touch. Or they go back to screenwriting. Whatever happened to Martha Coolidge, Joan Micklin Silver or Penelope Spheeris? Such writer-directors as Nancy Meyers and Nora Ephron make glossy, big-star studio romantic comedies but seem constrained by the demands of mainstream filmmaking with expensive stars. Meyers admitted at a recent writers’ panel that she probably could have made Sony Pictures’ “The Holiday” at Fox Searchlight with the same cast for half the price. (But then she wouldn’t have earned her hefty multimillion-dollar fee.)
Women would have an easier time if movies weren’t so hideously expensive. (So, for that matter, would men.) The thing about the movies made overseas: they’re relatively cheap.