The Oscars ceremony is no stranger to the act of protest, but this year will see arguably its most unique demonstration yet, because it won’t be taking place outside the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles but inside the telecast itself.
Non-profit initiative Give Her A Break has created an online portal that allows viewers to watch the awards as normal, but one with one key difference: every ad break will be replaced with a showcase for a female-directed film.
“There’s millions of women who create incredible films, but just don’t get the same break by this misogynistic industry,” said the project’s founder Mo Said. “We wanted to fix that.”
The campaign has already seen support on Twitter from Honey Boy director Alma Har’el.
The idea came from of frustration at the lack of visibility for women within the best director category. Last month’s nominations were criticised for yet another all-male set of nominees and what was seen as an egregious snub for Little Women director Greta Gerwig. When announcing the nominations, Insecure star and creator Issa Rae quipped: “Congratulations to these men.” In its history, the Academy has only nominated five female film-makers.
“Greta, since she started, has made two perfect films, and I hope when she makes her next perfect movie, she gets recognized for everything, because I think she’s one of the most important film-makers of our time,” said Little Women star and best actress nominee Saoirse Ronan to Deadline.
Her co-star and fellow nominee Florence Pugh also shared her frustration: “I think everybody’s angry and quite rightly so. I can’t believe it’s happened again, but I don’t really know how to solve it.”
The lack of women in the category came after a record-breaking year for female film-makers, who were behind 10.6% of 2019’s 100 highest-grossing films, up from 4.5% the year before, according to a study by USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.
“2020 will be an extraordinary year for female directors,” said Stacy L Smith, one of the authors of the study. “We’re seeing women being given opportunities to direct action movies and not just smaller, independent films.”
This week saw the release of Birds of Prey, a $97m budget DC caper, which was the first major Hollywood superhero movie to be directed by an Asian American woman. Other big films from female directors in the next year include superhero films Wonder Woman 1984, Marvel’s The Eternals, Disney’s live-action Mulan and Black Widow, a solo adventure for Scarlett Johansson’s Avenger.