Direction: Tom Donahue
The documentary stresses the importance of gender equality in films production, examining the case of Hollywood movie industry. It reveals that, while actresses, female producers and directors are facing systemic disparity, there is significant ignorance on the issue. Moreover, the problem has become a kind of taboo for men producers, who are aware of it but are unwilling to discuss about it and take action against it. Gender equality in film making is crucial, in the sense that movies have an important impact on society’s culture. They affect identities formation, social behavior and the way we perceive the world. As regards Hollywood, for more than 100 years it has influenced our view of gender relations and our expectations from women. The film highlights two important aspects of gender discrimination in Hollywood movies: First, the biased and sexist projection of woman as well as the absence of female characters in films and second, the exclusion of women from production and direction.
Regarding the first, the documentary rightly argues that the eventual result is the creation and reproduction of a totally wrong and misrepresenting view of woman that damages both kids and adults. As Geena Davis asserted in her interview in the documentary, gender equality in Hollywood is not only about women’s rights but also about common good, society’s progress and kids’ growth in accordance to the right principles. About this argument, it is worth to mention that it brings the discussion about private and public back in and reinforces the deconstruction of the utopian separation of these two spheres: The claim for an end to the sexist presentation of woman is not a private interest of a specific group. Rather it concerns the society as a whole.
Concerning the second aspect, according to the documentary, while in the early years of Hollywood cinema a lot of women possessed the director position, the foundation of unions resulted to sex discrimination. This shows how money, class and power structures affect gender relations. It also proves that the feminist fight against disparity is part of the political public sphere. In 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), after gathering enough evidence, notified the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that women directors were facing sex discrimination from movie studios and television networks as a standard operating procedure. Accordingly, the EEOC investigated the hiring processes in Hollywood and in 2017 it proceeded with negotiations with big movie studios.
Crucial role in the legal investigation of the issue played the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Founded by the actress in 2004, the institute strives to raise awareness about women’s exclusion and aims to achieve gender balance in media industry. The institute carried out a thorough research on gender discrimination in Hollywood. The results are quite shocking. In 101 movies released between 1990 and 2005, male speaking roles were more than 70%. In addition, in the movies that were examined, in a scale from one to five, female narrators were less than one. While Davis stressed in the documentary that since 1945 there is been zero progress regarding gender equality, she said that there are some indications that things might change. For instance, Davis’ Institute, through a research that conducted on gender equality on movies for kids, managed to persuade producers of which bias was mostly unconscious to take action.