Asked to name five male directors, even the most occasional of cinema-goers could call to mind the usual names. But ask again for five female directors, and even the most dedicated film fan would probably find it a struggle to reach the fifth name. Audiences are more than familiar with female faces in front of the camera and with Hollywood’s reputation for integrity this shouldn’t surprise anyone. A woman’s name on the credits doesn’t draw the crowds in quite like the stunning smile and slinky dress on the poster.
Strangely, this imbalance in the directorial world isn’t a subject many people seem to feel particularly passionately about and when brought up in discussion it is often dismissed as a raging feminist cliché. But it is when a film as fantastic and original as ‘Lost in Translation’ makes it in the mainstream that a sense of frustration and curiosity is aroused in the minds of movie-goers. Sofia Coppola’s (right) Oscar nomination has brought the lack of female directorial recognition to the forefront of media discussion and undoubtedly the opening of the envelope on the big night will cause as much of a stir as Halle Berry’s win in 2001.
But do people acknowledge the prestige of the Oscars any longer after the accusations of giving ‘apology’ awards to those who should have received them the year previous or engineering the awards to fit an evening’s ‘theme’? Always a media-driven event, the Oscars have never been free from suspicion, but in recent years the golden awards have become more tarnished in the public opinion than ever before. If Sofia does take to the podium, how confident can we feel that the Academy hasn’t simply buckled under the pressure of maintaining a politically-correct image? On top of that, how far would Sofia have been accepted without that recognisable surname?
Still, there is a part in all female cinema enthusiasts who have seen ‘Lost in Translation’ which desperately wants Sofia to do it for the sisterhood. The first woman to bag a best director Oscar, it would be a symbol of encouragement for budding female directors, deterred by the male-dominated world of movie-making. Hollywood’s recent spewing of sequels and big-name blockbusters has seemed inexhaustible and ‘Lost in Translation’ shines out as a real sparkling gem of originality. Modern cinema is becoming simply a popcorn-and-ice cream event and a fresh outlook is needed to renew the idea that film can be inspiring and artistic. Opening up the doors of the multiplexes to more female directors would be a move towards refreshing the film-going experience. It’s time to bust the boy’s club and start making those fold-down canvas chairs in shocking-pink.