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Only 8% of 2017 Top Films Directed by Women: Why We Don't Care


Greta Gerwig on the set of Lady Bird (photo by A24)

If you clicked on this article, you are probably already well aware of the rather depressing statistics concerning gender parity in filmmaking. According to the Center for the Study of Women in Film and Television, of the top 100 grossing films of 2017, men composed:

  • 92% of directors

  • 98% of cinematographers

  • 90% of writers

In other words, in 2017, for every film directed by a woman, there were 13 directed by men. But we've chosen not to care. Why?

Because this doesn’t mean that there is a shortage of talented female filmmakers out there. 2017 also saw Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, Lady Bird, briefly grab the record for Rotten Tomatoes’ best-reviewed movie ever. The film also recently picked up Oscar Nominations for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress, and Best Director, not to mention dozens of other nominations from the Golden Globes, Director’s Guild of America, and more.

So while the number may be small, the talent of these female directors is not. The only reason women should care about this depressingly small number is that it represents the amount of room remaining for their unique stories to come forward. And as for the women that comprise that 8% and beyond, we’re excited to shed some light on them. Welcome to the first edition of PKP’s Director in Focus.

Throughout the month we will be sharing updates and articles on a particular director. For February 2018, we're focusing in on Greta Gerwig.

Greta Gerwig is an actress, writer and director born in Sacramento, California on August 4th, 1983. Gerwig’s most recent recognition comes from her directorial debut, the critically acclaimed film, Lady Bird (2017). Gerwig both wrote and directed the film, sharing her perspective on love, identity, and growing up in Sacramento. Many have speculated that the film is autobiographical, but Gerwig has denied these claims, stating “my mother knows more than anyone what’s not real and real.”

The storyline is founded on a simultaneously hilarious yet weep-worthy mother-daughter relationship. The honesty of the storyline paired with the stunning cinematography makes this piece both innovative and classic. With four Golden Globe nominations and two wins in January 2018 (Best Musical or Comedy Motion Picture and Best Actress in a Comedy or Comedy Motion Picture), Oscar buzz is flying.

So why does PKP love Greta Gerwig?

Her work as an actress, director, and writer – not to mention her success in all three - proves her to be a true Renaissance woman. Her voice lends itself to so many women who are interested in love stories beyond the heterosexual romance that made up the majority of women’s purpose on the screen for so long. Gerwig is interested in connections that are not often spoken of with confidence and moments that are often labelled as something along the lines of ‘boring’ or ‘fluffy’ or ‘drivel’: relationships between mothers and daughters and female best friends; relationships women have to the landscape and culture of their youth; connections we make with other women that are instrumental in shaping and grounding our identities at a young age. Lady Bird lays bare these moments that connect us as women, telling both the stories we choose to share and those we choose to keep secret in diary pages late at night. It’s in these moments strung together that we grow and discover who we are, and who we are not.

Just as her story recounts the journey of influences that build identity, Gerwig’s courage and honesty within her work paves the way for female artists to tell their stories without holding back.

“I've never had a plan, I've always done things from instinct.”

- Greta Gerwig


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