Words: Amy Louise O’ Callaghan
January is well known to be a “month of change”, a time to make subtle changes and resolutions in your life. Now generally, these resolutions never go much further than telling yourself you’ll make a conscious decision to go to the gym but more often than not, these resolutions don’t amount to much, and you’ll step foot in the Mardyke once and then proceed to spend the rest of the year with Netflix and your couch.
If you’re still hoping to do something different this year, but don’t really want to move, then you should try the #52FilmsByWomen project, a movement that many people on social media are taking on as a New Year’s resolution, and thankfully doesn’t involve abandoning your laptop.
The #52FilmsByWomen campaign is a new project that encourages people to watch one film directed by a woman every week. It appears pointless at first, but the project was started in order to raise awareness of women in film, and the distinct lack of equality within the film industry.
It is a long known fact that there is a certain discrepancy between men and women in film, with the Centre for the Study of Women in Television confirming in 2014 that “it’s a man’s (celluloid) world”.
Over the course of 86 years, only four female directors have ever been nominated for an Academy Award, and only one, Kathryn Bigelow, has won. In 2012, women comprised of 18% of all directors, writers, cinematographers, producers, executive producers and editors who worked on the top 250 highest grossing films of that year, so you know, it’s kind of an obvious inequality.
The Academy and film industry doesn’t necessarily strike out and knowingly favour men, but there is a prevalent history of sexism that has been evident in the industry since it began, which therefore makes it much more difficult to women to secure the bigger projects and blockbusters. The #52FilmsByWomen is a simple campaign that just aims to raise awareness of this fact and celebrate the few female directors that are working in the film industry and support the work that they do. It’s not going to change the world, but it could hopefully expand people’s horizons and encourage them to watch something they normally wouldn’t.
It’s very simple to start, just go on Netflix, but if you’d also like to get official about it, then you can officially pledge to do the campaign on: womeninfilm.org/52-films/, and keep up with the project and post updates using the hashtag #52FilmsByWomen. On womeninfilm.org, you will also find various recommendations for films, and for the sake of this article, I will include some examples of films by women, just in case you don’t know where to start.
The Diary of a Teenage Girl by Marielle Heller
The Diary of a Teenage Girl is about a 15 year old girl in 1970s San Francisco, who embarks on an affair with her mom’s boyfriend. It came out as recently as 2015, and had a very limited release in Ireland and therefore flew under the radar, but it’s a truly great film and its set in the seventies so it deserves to be seen for the music and production design alone.
Wayne’s World by Penelope Spheeris
Originally starting out as a Saturday Night Live skit, Wayne’s World is about two musicians called Wayne and Garth who run a cable-access TV show which gains the attention of a big producer. It’s completely ridiculous and extremely quotable and can basically only be described as “excellent”.
Babadook by Jennifer Kent
Seeing as female directors aren’t very prominent in the horror genre, it came as a big surprise when 2014’s scariest horror film was made by a woman. Rightfully earning the title as the best horror film out that year, The Babadook is about a mother and son who are terrorised by a monster that came from the pages of a children’s book.
Clueless by Amy Heckerling