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Half The Picture: 0.006% of Hollywood Directors From BAME Backgrounds

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Half The Picture directed by Amy Adrion comes at a pivotal moment for gender equality in Hollywood, successful women directors tell the stories of their art, lives and careers. The film doesn’t pull any punches about what the realities are for women in the industry, specifically in Hollywood, but still manages to offer an inspiring sense of fight and hope and then the first glimpse of a future that values their voices equally.

Amy Adrion’s documentary feature began life being funded solely on credit cards similar to many of us starting our projects and gathered momentum as more interviews and finance were confirmed and as #metoo unfolded.

Half The Picture presents facts and anecdotes from women directors that work across a range of films and documentaries from the indie market up to and including big budget studio films. They discuss the realities of getting films financed, dealing with male colleagues challenging their authority and experience and also the demands of the job and which often means leaving their young children behind while being on location weeks on end.

Sam Taylor-Johnson Picture Credit: Jo Davidson / Silverhub for Sundance London

The statistics are as expected but are particularly awful if you are a director from a BAME background, your existence is bordering on invisibility except for the handful of exceptions.

0.0006% of directors working in Hollywood are from BAME backgrounds.

When you see the same kinds of stories over and over from the same perspective, it’s not representative of people living in society; women’s voices are certainly marginalised and women of colour are basically erased.” – Amy Adrion

There is also a correlation between lower budget documentary/narrative films and the number of female directors that are working in this space and then conversely as the budgets grow the number of women securing directing roles begin to decline there are off course some rare successes.

Ava du Vernay never built her hugely successful career on the back of any film mentoring initiatives, festivals but instead just decided that she was going to make films and continued on her path regardless whether the above would be available and to her or not, infact, the documentary highlights the experiences of numerous women who argue that the system is not set up to benefit female filmmakers.

Director Amy Adrion and Ana Souza introducing ‘Half the Picture’ during the Sundance Film Festival London. Picture Credit: Jo Davidson / Silverhub for Sundance London

Over the last year, we have seen some groundbreaking moment’s from the release of Wonder Woman with Patty Jenkins back to direct the next installment, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird that led to an Oscar nomination for her and Ava Du Vernay’s much awaited Wrinkle In Time, which had a production and marketing budget of around $200 million and $250 million, making her the first African-American woman to direct a live-action film with a budget of that size.

All three films have done well and so their impact will continue to be felt in more female-led films both behind and in front of the camera.

Half The Picture actually should be required viewing for anyone in the industry male or female as it’s the gatekeepers we need to continue to lobby for change.

Adrion is quick to debunk the myth that if your work is good enough you’ll succeed no matter what your gender, saying: “That’s exactly what’s been happening for the past 100 years. Only white men have been considered for every job in Hollywood forever, they have been favoured over everybody else.

“So it’s frustrating because a lot of white male directors will say “it’s a tough time to be a white male director, they’re only looking for women” and you’re like, maybe they’re looking for women a little bit, but it’s not like women are now directing 96 percent of movies.”

This film is an absolute must-see for women working in the industry.
Distributed by Gravitas.

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