There’s no ignoring the facts, female directors have had a rough time of it for as long as there has been a film industry in Hollywood. In the last twenty years, less than 4% of Hollywood productions have had a female director, and the numbers are even lower for women of colour. Which begs the question, how come that despite making up more than half of the US population, women are still so badly represented in one of its most lucrative industries?
In a year which has seen more female voices rise up against the current status quo regarding gender parity in filmmaking, Amy Adrion’s new documentary Half The Picture presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to speak to a group of female directors and producers about their struggles to make themselves heard in an industry still dominated by old-fashioned machismo and a toxic “old boys’ club” mentality.
Gathering some of the most renown female filmmakers working in Hollywood at the moment, Half The Picture presents a dense and hugely compelling exposé on the subject, and attempts to set the record on the reasons behind this blatant inequality. From PR executive turned director Ava DuVernay, to indie darling Miranda July, Adrion presents a series of honest and thorough talking head interviews in this meticulously structured, informative and brilliantly frank production which isn’t afraid of coming out guns-blazing in defence of more female representation on and off-screen.
Concentrating some of the film on the erasure of women of colour in the industry, directors such as Gina Prince-Bythewood, Patricia Cardoso and the aforementioned DuVernay talk about the obstacles they had to jump through to be able to bring stories about people of colour into fruition. While HBO Girls creator Lena Dunham is far more optimistic about the future of an industry which in her opinion is seeing “the dying moan of a certain kind of male privilege” which will eventually disappear, making it possible for more women to take on big Hollywood productions with no questions asked.
Elsewhere Wayne’s World director Penelope Spheeris speaks candidly and with a huge amount of playful glee about her own experiences of working on big Hollywood productions, even joking about the failure of the film’s sequel, which she was blocked from directing.
Making a case for a similar equality in film journalism, DuVernay and others hope to see their films reviewed by more female critics in order to offset the balance. On the whole, Half The Picture presents a pivotal moment in the #TimesUp movement for all women, whether they are in front the camera, behind it or just consuming it. A truly inspiring, honest and politically charged production which is set to change mind and inspire in equal measure.