Whether they are in a remote village in an underdeveloped country or in the world’s most glamorous corner of Hollywood, women around the world share one thing: similar challenges in their way of proving their expertise to grow professionally.
However, when it comes to entertainment, the impact of those challenges are much more on women, according to Amy Adrion, the director of the documentary ‘Half the Picture’, which investigates the discriminatory issues scores of women directors working in Hollywood are facing. Adrion herself has a graduate degree in Film Directing from UCLA.
Speaking to Gulf News tabloid! on the sidelines of the screening of her documentary at Cinema Akil in Alserkal Avenue recently, Adrion explained that she picked up the topic for more than just the fact that it is her field.
“So it is very of personal for me, but that I would also say the fact that media is so prevalent in our lives, and has such huge impact on what we think of other people,” she said.
“You know the images we see on screens from childhood to adulthood really affect what we think of people, and if we have the same kind [of] images… certain people are always the bad guys, and some people are the helpers and some others are the heroes, that actually contributes to what we think of real people in the real world. And I think it is damaging to just have one small vision represented over and over again and have the experiences of women and so many other people not represented,” Adrion added.
The screening of ‘Half the Picture’ in Dubai came as part of wider screening of the documentary on the occasion of International Women’s Day. On Friday, it will be shown on TV in some countries, including Spain and Australia. The documentary had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in London in 2018, and won the #WhatNext Award at the festival, and also the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Lighthouse Film Festival. In the past months, it was shown in different parts of the world.
It took nearly three years to make the documentary, and the duration was nearly split equally between shooting and editing. It was produced by Adrion’s husband.
The almost 90-minute-long documentary is a smooth continuation of interview clips. The directors’ comments revealed the challenges women face in their profession in Hollywood, which range between being taken seriously by their male colleagues to taking a one-week break after giving birth and the balance between family commitments and career ambitions.
From a broader perspective, these are the dilemmas many women face in other fields.
“I think that the challenges women face in film are specific in one way to that field, but also so many women who saw the film have come up to me afterwards and said, ‘Oh, I work in law, or I am in tech, or academia and there are a lot of the same issues.’ So, I think it does related to all different kinds of people, and I would say the women in the film are such engaging, dynamic, passionate people and characters. They are ‘dreamers who are fighting to achieve their dreams,’” said Adrion.
During the Academy Award’s 91-year-long history, Kathryn Bigelow is the only woman director to have won an Oscar out of just a handful nominations for women directors through the past years. By comparison, hundreds of male directors were nominated and scores won.
During the documentary, it was made clear that women get the same training as men, but not same “big” opportunities. But they do make winning documentaries.
“Women do show that when they make independent films, low budget film documentaries, those films are played in international festivals and win awards and are nominated for winning Academy Awards. [However], women don’t get those next big opportunities, [and] that is the problem,” said Adrion.
Commenting on reasons, Adrion explained that entertainment is “a business of relationship, and I think it is easier for men to connect to other men, or they just feel a level of comfort, so they hire people whom they feel comfortable with, even if there is nothing nefarious about it. You know that is, I think, part of what keep women out.”
“There is a famous story of one director saying to another director, ‘Hire this guy, he reminds me of me’. You know it is harder for women to break into that.”