Women of Color Make Films for Real Women

Feminist Wire
Thinking Outside the Blockbuster: Women of Color Make Films for Real Women
By Melissa Robertson
For many American filmgoers it might sound unbelievable that only about 6% of all fiction filmmakers are women. However, to both professional and aspiring women filmmakers this is a well-known and all-too-well-experienced fact. And unfortunately, success rates vary. Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, The Virgin Suicides), Mary Harron (American Psycho), and Amy Heckerling (Fast Times at Ridgemont High) are just a few (often-unrecognized) women who have directed some of America’s most beloved classics. To be sure, their kind of success is rare. In 2009, Kathryn Bigelow won the Academy Award for Best Director for The Hurt Locker—80 years after the inception of that award.
Recognition of any woman in cinema is hard to come by. For women of color the outlook is even bleaker. The most recent example is Dee Rees’s Pariah, about a black lesbian teen growing up in Brooklyn. Though the film opened December 28 and already boasts an impressive 96% rating on RottenTomatoes.com, its theatrical release continues to be extremely limited. (For a more extensive look at this film, see Mecca Jamilah Sullivan’s article “Black Queer Gender and Pariah’s ‘Grand Swagger’.”) The only way to gain support, I think, is by raising awareness about these talented women and their films. I have reviewed four films—each having been written and directed by a woman of color.
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