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Let's Talk About Women In Film

Happy Women’s History Month! Here at FFI we strive to create a platform for women pursuing a career in the film industry. I felt it was only fitting to create a whole article highlighting talented women in the field. I added some video if you are interested in getting to know these remarkable women more!

To begin, I want to lead with my personal favorite director Greta Gerwig.

Greta Gerwig started her career as an actress and made her first solo writer and director debut in 2017 with her Oscar nominated film Lady Bird starring Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet. Gerwig then went on to work with the same actors in my all time favorite movie Little Women. Gerwig adapted the book into a screenplay and directed the film. What I love so much about this film is not only the story line, but how much I can believe the actors. I’m currently taking a directing course and learning about the importance of making your actors performances believable. I think Gerwig does an astounding job with this because I feel a personal connection to Jo March in the film, played by Saoirse Ronan. One particular scene is where Jo is crying trying to explain how she feels about herself to her mother. In the monologue she goes on about how women are so much more than love, but she is so lonely. Watching this scene in theaters struck me in my heart. The words meant so much to me because I’ve thought the same thing. Gerwig helped Saoirse and the other actors give Oscar worthy performances that have me watching the movie over and over again just to feel something. I’m looking forward to seeing her next film, Barbie!

The next talent I want to highlight is Olivia Wilde. Wilde began her career in acting just like Greta Gerwig. Wilde started producing and directing short films but made her blockbuster debut with her film Booksmart. Booksmart is one of my comfort films and I watch it whenever I’m feeling down. I love this piece so much because the women behind it. I think to tell two remarkable women’s coming of age stories, it needs to be directed by someone who can relate and understand the women. Wilde was the perfect fit to help direct the actresses to success! Wilde has just wrapped production on her upcoming film Don’t Worry Darling, which she directed and produced. When I heard about this movie, I was super intrigued. The film is a thriller that takes place in the 1950s when a woman's husband gets involved in a utopian experimental community. This piece will be so different from the comedy in Booksmart and I am so excited to see how she does directing this movie!

Another woman who started her career as an actress who made her director debut is Regina King. King’s film One Night in Miami, is the right movie during the right time. The movie is adapted by Kemp Powers from his Olivier Award-winning play. The film is set in 1964 Miami, when Cassius Clay defeated heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. During the afterparty, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown debate the best ways to use their respected stardom to affect change in the segregated south. One Night in Miami was nominated for 3 Golden Globes and if King scores a best director slot for the Oscars she would be the first black women nominee in the category in 92 years. When directing, King encouraged her actors to dig behind their alpha male personas. She stressed to them throughout production that they remember humanity. To me, that is such a powerful statement, especially when playing these strong roles. As the director, you need to make sure you pay attention and support your actors, but also pull a performance out of them that is honest and believable to the audience. King does a remarkable job doing this in her film. She truly deserves the Oscar nomination!

Next I want to highlight an emerging young talent, Ilana Peña. I found out about Ilana Peña when I watched The Wrap three day Power Women Summit featuring different panelists and events revolving around the film industry. Peña stood out to me because she under 30 years old and is the creator of the Disney+ original, Diary of a Future President. Since I am nearing graduation I was really inspired to hear from a woman of color who has her very own production on a huge platform. I have not seen Diary of a Future President, but one thing I love that Peña said during the summit stood out to me. Peña mentioned that whenever she sees the younger actors take an interest in being a showrunner she makes sure to do whatever she can to help them. She went on to talk about how when she broke into the industry as a showrunner’s assistant for the CW show, Crazy Ex Girlfriend, she knew how hard it was to obtain that position. She talked about how difficult it is to not only be a woman in the film industry, but as a woman of color it was even more so. By having a difficult time she now dedicates as much time as she can to help women and the younger actors who are interested in pursuing a career in film.

Coming up next is the second female to win best director at the Golden Globes, and she’s of Asian descent! I’m so happy to see some diversity in the nominations at the Golden Globes and for them to be acknowledging all the talent women of color have! Zhao grew up in Beijing and came to the United States as a senior in high school. Now, she is one of the most sought out directors in Hollywood!

The film that Zhao won best director for was Nomadland. A film about a collection of nomads who have lost their savings in the 2008 recession or never had money to begin with. It follows their exploration, stubborn individualism and economic decay. Critics are saying this movie is predicted to win big at the Oscars this year. Critics have also said that this film defines how terrible and hard this past year has been on us all. I am looking forward to watching this film and am so excited to see that it’s available on Hulu!

I hope you all add this one to your watch list along with the other films created by these phenomenal filmmakers!

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