Despite female film directors enjoying somewhat of a milestone year of success, with Julia Ducournau winning the Palme d’Or for Titane and Chloé Zhao taking home the Best Picture Oscar, it has been reported that the number of female filmmakers working in the top-grossing films decreased in 2021.
The findings came after a new report by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film in San Diego, with the study announcing that women accounted for just 17% of the directors of the year’s top 250 films, a figure 1% down from the previous year. When this figure is further scrutinised, the number gets even smaller, with 12% of female directors in 2021’s top 100, 4% down from 2020.
Such a report comes after the groundbreaking year for female creatives in the film industry, with Titane director Julia Ducournau telling The Guardian: “Women kicked serious ass this year,” in a substantial interview with the publication. Pointing to the likes of female filmmakers such as Chloé Zhao, Audrey Diwan and Alina Grigore and their respective films, Nomadland, Happening and Blue Moon, Ducournau articulated just why her Palme d’Or was so important. Speaking to the newspaper, Ducournau added that her Cannes win “was incredibly powerful to me,” before explaining, “through this prize, a lot was happening. It took 28 years [since Campion’s win] and I believe it’s not going to take 28 years again”.
The founder and executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, Dr. Martha Lauzen, explained in a statement: “Appearances can be deceiving,” making reference to the leaps female filmmakers made in 2021. “Basing our perceptions of how women are faring on the well-deserved fortunes of just a few high-profile women can lead us to inaccurate conclusions about the state of women’s employment,” Lauzen rightly noted.
After success for both Chloé Zhao and Julia Ducournau at the Academy Awards and Cannes respectively, director Jane Campion is hoping to swoop the top prize at the 2022 Oscar’s ceremony for the extraordinary, The Power of the Dog.