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hinese filmmaker Chloe Zhao is the second woman to ever win 'Best Director' at the Oscars. Photo: Getty Images.
hinese filmmaker Chloe Zhao is the second woman to ever win 'Best Director' at the Oscars. Photo: Getty Images.

International Women’s Day: Is the film industry equal?

In recent years, Hollywood has been forced to move towards gender equality. However, the steps are slow and so far insufficient.

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Having a day of the year to claim the rights of women is important in the societies across the world, especially in those where equality is a distant dream.

Every March 8 is International Women's Day, which leads to reflection on equity, justice and the eradication of vulnerability in home and work environments.

The entertainment industry is not exempt from these demands, specifically in Hollywood, where women must still fight to conquer spaces and make their voices heard. 

This is reflected in concrete data. Reports from Women in Film Women, an American organization that promotes the careers of women in film and television, reveal that of the 100 top grossing films in 2019, only 10.7% of them were directed by women filmmakers. 

The figure is not so encouraging either if we consider that only 43 of those top 100 films featured a female lead or co-lead. 

When we talk about the Academy and its most globally recognized awards — the Oscars — there are still challenges to achieve gender equality, considering that this year, only 65 of the 229 individual nominations were for women. This represented a decrease compared to 2021, when there were 76 female nominations.

From 1929 to today, only two women have won the statuette for Best Director. Kathryn Bigelow and Chloé Zhao are the pioneers. In Oscars history, only seven women have ever been nominated: Lina Wertmüller, Sofia Coppola, Bigelow, Greta Gerwig, Zhao, Emerald Fennell and Jane Campion. The latter is the only one that has been nominated in the category more than once: in 1994 for The Piano and in 2022 for The Power of the Dog.

The situation is even worse in the Cinematography category. There are just two women who have been nominated: Rachel Morrison for Mudbound in 2017, and Ari Wegner for The Power of the Dog in 2022. And, as expected, the situation is also reflected in the number of awards that women directors carried home: zero.

"I hope this changes soon," Wegner said in an interview.

The Academy is aware of this global challenge and tries to take little steps towards female inclusion. One of them is by choosing Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer and Regina Hall to host the gala on March 27. It is the first time in the history of the awards that the ceremony will be hosted by three women.

What about streaming platforms?

The Women in Film report indicates that streaming platforms have offered more opportunities to female talent, especially in directing, between 2020 and 2021.

At Amazon Prime, 37.5% of all directors were women, at Disney+ the figure reached 29%, at HBO Max 19.5%, and Netflix 18.1%.

A festival to claim equality

In commemoration of International Women's Day, the Athena Film Festival returns in person after two years. Held at Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City, the event is organized to empower women in television and cinema, to celebrate women's leadership, and tell inspiring stories.

From March 11 to 20, movies of these topics will be aired at the festival. The public can buy tickets to watch them online across the United States.

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