Diverse female directors invited to AMPAS

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has invited 928 new members (up from last year’s 683 invitees), 49 percent female filmmakers from across the world. In a three-part FF2 Media series, we examine the efforts of AMPAS to actively create gender balance in screenwriting, directing and overall diversity in filmmaking.

 According to Variety, this class will bring the total AMPAS membership to 31 percent female, up from 25 percent in 2015. This year there is a very diverse and international female representation of filmmakers from around the world. This year, there is notable diversity with international female representation of filmmakers from around the world, including 10 directors who were invited to be part of AMPAS: Clio Barnard, Annemarie Jacir, Wanuri Kahiu, Nadine Labaki, Rachel Perkins, Angela Robinson, Alice Rohrwacher, Aisling Walsh, Chloé Zhao, and Rebecca Zlotowski.

Clio Barnard is a British director of documentary and feature films. She is best known for The Arber, The Selfish Giant and her third feature film, Dark River. In an interview with FF2 Media, Barnard reflected on her past experience as a teacher and how it helped in her directing career. “When I was teaching I made my first film and I certainly was helpful. It really was inspiring to be working with these students who were pursuing the same thing I was.”

Nadine Labaki is a Lebanese actress and director who was born in Baabdat (a resort community in the hills above Beirut). She was barely a year old when four people in East Beirut were killed in a drive-by shooting in April 1975, igniting a civil war that blazed through hot and hotter phases for over 15 years. She is best known for Where Do We Go Now?, which is about a mythical Lebanese village, surrounded by landmines, dominated by one church and one mosque. Exhausted by intramural feuding and senseless death, the women of the village seek ways to distract their men long enough to hide all the guns.“I truly believe that cinema is one of the most powerful non-violent weapons for change. I truly believe it because you are able to entertain people but at the same time tell them stories about the world… I am not looking for confrontation. I’m just trying to say: ‘What if we could explore a different way of thinking? What would happen? What if we can see things in a different perspective?’ It’s an invitation from me to see things in a different way,” said Labaki in an interview with FF2 Media in 2012.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (Credit: Annapurna Pictures)

Angela Robinson is an American film and television director, screenwriter and producer. She is known for Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. She puts her own spin on on the unusual love story between the creators of the comic book heroine, Wonder Woman. She is known for portraying abstract and abnormal ideas that challenge the conventional way of thinking and bringing a new light to them. “I think often when directors shoot sex scenes, the movie’s going, and then it stops, and actors stop acting, and then do the sex scene. Everybody just wants to get it over with, because it’s uncomfortable to shoot. And then the movie resumes. I really wanted to direct the actors through the sex scenes, and not put a big ellipsis in it where the movie stops. I’ve done a lot of work in cable, so I actually think my perspective was different. I spent a decade working on shows like The L Word and True Blood and other things where you’re allowed to explore that stuff. So then returning to a movie format, I feel like I had developed a different perspective on these scenes from my work in cable that of brought to the film,” she said in a 2017 interview with the Verge.

Chloe Zhao is a Chinese film director who made a huge debut in the American filmmaking world with The Rider. She was born in Beijing, attended high school in London and studied political science at Massachusetts’ Mount Holyoke College. “I left when I was 14 for the U.K. and [have] just been drifting quite a lot…Nothing really stuck for me…I’m constantly changing so my filmmaking is an excuse to find my home of the moment to belong,” she said in a 2017 interview with FF2 Media. Her obsession with the American Western and the Western culture allowed her to recreate a new spin in the Westerners genre that allowed her to shine and get invited into the world of AMPAS.

Chloe Zhao directs The Rider (Sony Pictures Classics)

Rebecca Zlotowski is a French film director and screenwriter. She directed the famous Planetarium movie starring Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp, which follows two American sisters in pre-war France who make their living performing as mediums. “In France we are lucky enough to have the possibility of even imagining such projects, built on fantasies, dark premonitions, and without happy endings that [follow] our true [vision] for the film. I met Robin Campillo and asked him to help me in putting together the [story of the] destiny of two American sisters traveling the ancient European continent and the Jewish producer that embodied the spirit of this ancient world that was soon to disappear,” said Rebecca Zlotowski in a recent interview with The Runway Girl Network. Inspired by such diverse filmmakers as Federico Fellini, Bob Fosse and the Maysles Brothers, Zlotowski has directed three films in her native France.

According to the Academy of Motion Picture of Arts and Sciences, beginning later this year, each new member’s voting status will last 10 years, and will be renewed if that new member has been active in motion pictures during that decade.  In addition, members will receive lifetime voting rights after three 10-year terms; or if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award. The Board’s goal is to commit to doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.

You can find out more about the diverse class of female screenwriters in AMPAS HERE.

© Nikoleta Morales (7/18/18) FF2 Media

Featured image: Where Do We Go Now? (2011 Les Films des Tournelles)

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