The success of Patty Jenkins’ WONDER WOMAN has raised awareness of the viability of female directors in a business that has been an old boys’ club ever since its inception. However, if you have any sense of Hollywood history, you know that female directors have made some incredible films. Hell, WONDER WOMAN isn’t even the first comic book movie to be directed by a woman: Lexi Alexander helmed PUNISHER: WAR ZONE in 2008 and while it failed at the box office, the movie has amassed a considerable cult following since.
The issue is not talent, but opportunity. Like so many industries where men dominate, women are not getting the creative breaks they deserve. When one does and the film is a critical and/or financial success, the response is: why aren’t more women directing? That’s a good question.
The stereotypical answer is that women are not the right fit for the sort of films that most viewers watch these days. That’s nonsense. If you say that women cannot direct action movies, you have clearly not seen any that Kathryn Bigelow has made. If you think women are not good for comedy, think Penny Marshall (BIG), Nancy Meyers (WHAT WOMEN WANT), Lisa Cholodennko (CLUELESS), and Valerie Faris (LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE). If you think women cannot direct horror, well, there’s Kathryn Bigelow again (NEAR DARK), along with Jennifer Kent (THE BABBADOOK), Mary Harron (AMERICAN PSYCHO), Karyn Kusama (JENNIFER’S BODY), and Ana Lily Amirpour (A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT).
I could go on, but you get the point. You name a genre and I can name several women who have made terrific movies of that type. One hopes that the success of WONDER WOMAN will lead to more offers being extended. In the meantime, you can do your part through buying tickets to films directed by women. Lucia Aniello’s ROUGH NIGHT opens today, and Sofia Coppola’s award winning remake of THE BEGUILED hits theatres on June 30th.