This past weekend saw the 90th Academy Awards here in the States. It was pretty exciting in a few ways: for the first time, a black man (or black person at all) won best screenplay. Best director went to a Mexican man. Best picture went to the Mexican director’s film, and its plot focuses on issues of otherness and immigration. And the movie many people think should have won is also about race relations in the United States.
But we are reminded, again, by the disparity in film. In the US, most Oscar voters are older white men. Award winning movies reflect that. It’s even a genre of sorts, Oscar bait, a movie with a plot/director/actors clearly designed to win awards. Often focusing on a man having to overcome something, with minimal help from women and people of color. Schindler’s List and The King’s Speech are good examples. That’s not to say they aren’t good films, they are. But The King’s Speech is a man’s story, and even though Schindler’s List is based on true events, the woman’s role was greatly reduced.
On the plus side, I suppose, are the think pieces about this problem. At least we can be assured of a few days a year this will be the topic of discussion. (Though groups like Geena Davis’s Institute on Gender in Media works to keep this topics front and center.)
Because I live in the States, and because my Hindi is……….elementary at best, it’s more difficult for me to find gender-specific information about Indian cinema. I’m going to share some posts about American movies because there are parallels we can draw. But I’m also interested in these topics in world cinema as a whole, and I plan on doing research to see what figures I can find for Bollywood. Given the interest in feminism in Indian society and culture, and the great work its journalists, activists, and actors are doing, this information must be out there.
In the meantime, let’s keep supporting “women’s films.”