Woman is the past, present and future of American Film

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) came out swinging last week when the AFI's Top 100 films version 2.0 was announced. From their website :

The results are in and, not surprising to AWFJ, not one of the films named on AFI’s Best 100 Films List is directed by a women.“The films themselves are boy-centric, and the only ones that are women driven (after The Wizard of Oz) include: Sunset Blvd; All About Eve; Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (give me a break); The Sound of Music; and Sophie’s Choice.” writes Melissa Silverstein on the Huffington Post.“There is more gender parity when it comes to actors and actresses represented,” comments Philadelphia Inquirer film critic, Carrie Rickey, noting that Katherine Hepburn, Faye Dunaway and Diane Keaton are represented by three or more films, as are Robert De Niro and Jimmy Stewart.As counterpoint to AFI’s Best 100 Films List, Rickey, an AWFJ member, initiated AWFJ’s Top 100 Films List, nominations for which were made by AWFJ members, who were not given directives to concentrate on films made by and/or about women, nor to select only American-made movies.

Yesterday the list, taken from the votes of the 27-member group, was announced, and the results were somewhat surprising, intriguing, a bit off the wall - if anything it reflected the quirks of polling a smaller body of voters than the massive AFI project. The full list, with representative comments, can be found here: http://awfj.org/2007/06/25/awfjs-top-100-films-list/

To inagurate the poll, erstwhile film critic Carrie Rickey gave a rousing address:

Two numbers stick in my craw. 6.5 and 29.6.5—repeat after me– 6.5 — is the percentage of the top-250 feature films directed by American women in 2006.29 – repeat after me, 29 –is the percentage of women we see on the big screen.Put another way, men direct more than 93 percent of what we see at the multiplex and at the arthouse, and male characters outnumber females on screen by a ratio of more than two to one. And we all know that when only one in three of the people we see on the big screen is female, we come to believe that women are a minority– when in fact they are the majority.

As I never get tired of reminding my readers and my stepdaughter, who is with us today, such an imbalance gives us 1) a distorted image of the world and 2) militates against equal employment opportunities for women.

You can read the rest of her fantastic speech - including her eyebrow raising mention of a common Hollywood joke to explain differences between male and female storytelling - here: http://awfj.org/2007/06/25/carrie-rickeys-speech-at-awfjs-top-100-films-list-launch/

Last but not least, Erin Hill and Brian Hu of Mediascape gave their own inspired reaction to the AFI 100 by honing in on the problem of lack of a single woman director in the AFI's results. They offered their own brilliant 100-film overview of American films directed by women, listed in chronological order. Now THIS is a list to raise eyebrows and initiate discoveries in cinema. But as wonderful as it is, I'm sure there are notable exclusions. Can you think of any? [list can be found after the break]

* MABEL’S BUSY DAY (Mabel Normand, 1914) * SOMETHING NEW (Nell Shipman & Bert Van-Tuyle, 1920) * THE LOVE LIGHT (Frances Marion, 1921) * THE BLOT (Lois Weber, 1921) * TWO WISE WIVES (Lois Weber, 1921) * THE WILD PARTY (Dorothy Arzner, 1929) * LINDA (Dorothy Davenport aka Mrs. Wallace Reid, 1929) * CHRISTOPHER STRONG (Dorothy Arzner, 1933) * DANCE, GIRL, DANCE (Dorothy Arzner, 1940) * FIRST COMES COURAGE (Dorothy Arzner, 1943) * MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON (Maya Deren & Alexander Hammid, 1943) * NOT WANTED (Ida Lupino & Elmer Clifton, 1949) * OUTRAGE (Ida Lupino, 1950) * THE BIGAMIST (Ida Lupino, 1953) * THE COOL WORLD (Shirley Clarke, 1964) * BAD GIRLS GO TO HELL (Doris Wishman, 1965) * PORTRAIT OF JASON (Shirley Clarke, 1967) * FUSES (Carolee Schneemann, 1967) * RAPE (Yoko Ono & John Lennon, 1969) * WANDA (Barbara Loden, 1971) * A NEW LEAF (Elaine May, 1971) * THE VELVET VAMPIRE (Stephanie Rothman, 1971) * TERMINAL ISLAND (Stephanie Rothman, 1973) * DYKETACTICS (Barbara Hammer, 1974) * THE WORKING GIRLS (Stephanie Rothman, 1974) * HARLAN COUNTY U.S.A. (Barbara Kopple, 1976) * NEWS FROM HOME (Chantal Ackerman, 1977) * GIRLFRIENDS (Claudia Weill, 1978) * CHILLY SCENES OF WINTER (Joan Micklin Silver, 1979) * OLD BOYFRIENDS (Joan Tewkesbury, 1979) * THE LIFE AND TMES OF ROSIE THE RIVETER (Connie Fields, 1980) * TELL ME A RIDDLE (Lee Grant, 1980) * THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION (Penelope Spheeris, 1981) * LOSING GROUND (Kathleen Collins, 1982) * FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (Amy Hecklering, 1982) * SMITHEREENS (Susan Seidelman, 1982) * VALLEY GIRL (Martha Coolidge, 1983) * YENTL (Barbra Streisand, 1983) * DESERT HEARTS (Donna Deitch, 1985) * DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN (Susan Seidelman, 1985) * WORKING GIRLS (Lizzie Borden, 1986) * CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD (Randa Haines, 1986) * BORDER RADIO (Allison Anders, Dean Lent, & Kurt Ross, 1987) * NEAR DARK (Kathryn Bigelow, 1987) * WHO KILLED VINCENT CHIN? (Christine Choy & Renee Tajima-Pena, 1987) * DAMNED IF YOU DON’T (Su Friedrich, 1987) * ISHTAR (Elaine May, 1987) * BIG (Penny Marshall, 1988) * SURNAME VIET GIVEN NAME NAM (Trinh T. Minh-ha, 1989) * BLUE STEEL (Katherine Bigelow, 1990) * SINK OR SWIM (Su Friedrich, 1990) * PARIS IS BURNING (Jennie Livingston, 1990) * RAMBLING ROSE (Martha Coolidge, 1991) * A PLACE CALLED LOVELY (Sadie Benning, 1991) * DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST (Julie Dash, 1991) * LITTLE MAN TATE (Jodie Foster, 1991) * MISSISSIPPI MASALA (Mira Nair, 1991) * DOGFIGHT (Nancy Savoca, 1991) * GAS FOOD LODGING (Allison Anders, 1992) * A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (Penny Marshall, 1992) * WAYNE’S WORLD (Penelope Spheeris, 1992) * HISTORY AND MEMORY (Rea Tajiri, 1992) * MI VIDA LOCA (Allison Anders, 1993) * GO FISH (Rose Troche, 1994) * THE ELEGANT SPANKING (Maria Beatty & Rosemary Delain, 1995) * STRANGE DAYS (Katherine Bigelow, 1995) * CLUELESS (Amy Heckerling, 1995) * THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY (Jane Campion, 1996) * WATERMELON WOMAN (Cheryl Dunye, 1996) * FOXFIRE (Annette Haywood-Carter, 1996) * WALKING AND TALKING (Nicole Holofcener, 1996) * MANNY & LO (Lisa Krueger, 1996) * ALL OVER ME (Alex Sichel, 1997) * PRIVATE PARTS (Betty Thomas, 1997) * COMING SOON (Collette Burson, 1999) * HOLY SMOKE (Jane Campion, 1999) * BOYS DON’T CRY (Kimberly Peirce, 1999) * AMERICAN PSYCHO (Mary Harron, 2000) * GIRLFIGHT (Karyn Kusama, 2000) * LOVE AND BASKETBALL (Gina Prince-Bythewood, 2000) * THINGS BEHIND THE SUN (Allison Anders, 2001) * SOUTHERN COMFORT (Kate Davis, 2001) * STRANGER INSIDE (Cheryle Dunye, 2001) * LOVELY & AMAZING (Nicole Holofcener, 2001) * THE ANNIVERSARY PARTY (Jennifer Jason Leigh & Alan Cumming, 2001) * THIRTEEN CONVERSATIONS ABOUT ONE THING (Jill Sprecher, 2001) * THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE (Nanette Burstein & Brett Morgen, 2002) * PERSONAL VELOCITY (Rebecca Miller, 2002) * FRIDA (Julie Taymor, 2002) * AMERICAN SPLENDOR (Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini, 2003) * LOST IN TRANSLATION (Sofia Coppola, 2003) * MONSTER (Patty Jenkins, 2003) * SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE (Nancy Meyers, 2003) * YES (Sally Potter, 2004) * THE TIME WE KILLED (Jennifer Todd Reeves, 2004) * ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW (Miranda July, 2005) * SHERRYBABY (Laurie Collyer, 2006) * MARIE ANTOINETTE (Sofia Coppola, 2006) * LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (Valerie Faris & Jonathan Dayton, 2006) * OLD JOY (Kelly Reichardt, 2006)