Call for Writers: Women Directors Week

Call for Writers

Our theme week for April 2017 will be Women Directors. We’re looking for articles that analyze, critique, and celebrate women filmmakers and women-directed films.

The gender gap in the entertainment industry has risen to the level of popular consciousness, such that prominent public figures are frequently commenting on it and demanding change, but while awareness of the under-representation and misrepresentation of women in film and television has grown, is there much being done to combat it?

Women directors face myriad obstacles: despite there being an abundance of talented female directors struggling to produce work, many companies refuse to give them projects — only 3.4% of all film directors are femaleonly 7% of the 250 top-grossing movies in 2016 were directed by women, and women directed only 4% of the 1,000 top-grossing movies between 2007 and 2016. Women filmmakers are not paid as much as their male counterparts, they work with smaller budgets, “female directors make fewer films than male directors,” “age restricts opportunities for female directors,” and women-directed films “receive 63% less distribution” than films by male directors. There’s an expectation that their work be stereotypically female (i.e. chick flicks) and their work is rarely appreciated with the same level of acclaim (only 4 women have ever been nominated for a Best Director Academy Award). Of the 1,114 directors who directed the 1,000 top-grossing films from 2007 to 2016, only 35 were women and of those, only 7 directors were women of color: 3 Black women, 3 Asian or Asian American women, and one Latina woman.

Despite all these obstacles and hardships, women continue to make amazing work with a wide range of genres and topics: romantic, thought-provoking, innovative, hilarious, or even terrifying. In 2009, Kathryn Bigelow broke barriers with The Hurt Locker, a film about soldiers and war, when she took home Academy Awards for both Best Picture and Best Director. She was the first woman ever to receive an Oscar for Best Director. In 2014, Ava DuVernay’s depiction of the civil rights movement in Selma won an Academy Award for Best Song and garnered a Best Picture nomination. But DuVernay didn’t receive an Oscar nomination for Best Director, an unfortunate snub as she would have been the first Black woman to ever receive a nomination for Best Director. However, the Oscars are overwhelmingly white and male-dominated and are increasingly being disregarded as an antiquated, patriarchal, elitist group who should no longer be regarded as the gatekeepers of important cinema.

Thankfully, many people such as April Reign, the creator of #OscarsSoWhite, and Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs are challenging the Oscars’ lack of diversity and inclusivity. The EEOC has been investigating the hiring practices of Hollywood studios and television networks for gender discrimination against women directors. Also, women are increasingly working in the independent film scene. Despite the somewhat encouraging rise of women directors, white women tend to dominate the field, receiving accolades and projects with far greater frequency than women of color directors, which is a microcosm reflective of the stratification of the feminist movement itself.

The examples below are the names of women directors alongside an example of one of their most acclaimed works. Feel free to use those examples to inspire your writing on this subject, or choose your own source material.

We’d like to avoid as much overlap as possible for this theme, so get your proposals in early if you know which film you’d like to write about. We accept both original pieces and cross-posts, and we respond to queries within a week.

Most of our pieces are between 1,000 and 2,000 words, and include links and images. Please send your piece as a Microsoft Word document to btchflcks[at]gmail[dot]com, including links to all images, and include a 2- to 3-sentence bio. If you have written for us before, please indicate that in your proposal, and if not, send a writing sample if possible.

Please be familiar with our publication and look over recent and popular posts to get an idea of Bitch Flicks’ style and purpose. We encourage writers to use our search function to see if your topic has been written about before, and link when appropriate (hyperlinks to sources are welcome, as well).

The final due date for these submissions is Friday, April 21, 2017 by midnight Eastern Time.


Women Directors:

Ava DuVernay (Selma)

Mira Nair (Queen of Katwe)

Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)

Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust)

Jane Campion (The Piano)

Haifaa al-Mansour (Wadjda)

Amma Asante (Belle)

Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski (The Matrix)

Anna Rose Holmer (The Fits)

Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women)

Deepa Mehta (Fire)

Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen)

Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation)

Tina Mabry (Queen Sugar)

Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night)

Jennifer Phang (Advantageous)

Dorothy Arzner (Dance, Girl, Dance)

Aurora Guerrero (Mosquita y Mari)

Mary Harron (American Psycho)

Nicole Holofcener (Friends with Money)

Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou)

Agnès Varda (Cleo from 5 to 7)

Desiree Akhavan (Appropriate Behavior)

Meera Menon (Equity)

Allison Anders (Gas Food Lodging)

Karyn Kusama (The Invitation)

Melina Matsoukas (Insecure)

Victoria Mahoney (Yelling to the Sky)

Věra Chytilová (Daisies)

Kelly Fremon Craig (The Edge of Seventeen)

Angelina Jolie (By the Sea)

Gillian Armstrong (My Brilliant Career)

Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle)

Gina Prince-Bythewood (Beyond the Lights)

Penny Marshall (Big)

Maryam Keshavarz (Circumstance)

Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right)

Patricia Riggen (The 33)

Euzhan Palcy (A Dry White Season)

Susanne Bier (The Night Manager)

Chantal Akerman (Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles)

Alice Wu (Saving Face)

Tanya Hamilton (Night Catches Us)

Dee Rees (Pariah)

Jennifer Kent (The Babadook)

Randa Haines (Children of a Lesser God)

Lexi Alexander (Punisher: War Zone)

Angela Robinson (D.E.B.S.)

Nancy Meyers (Something’s Gotta Give)

Georgina Garcia Riedel (How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer)

Ida Lupino (Outrage)

Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Kung Fu Panda 3)

Lynn Shelton (Your Sister’s Sister)

Maya Angelou (Down in the Delta)

Céline Sciamma (Girlhood)

Barbra Streisand (The Prince of Tides)

Jodie Foster (Orange Is the New Black)

Cheryl Dunye (The Watermelon Woman)


13 Comments

  • Sammi Luester
    Posted March 29, 2017 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Ew! I hate that The Kids Are All Right was added to this. That disgrace of a movie for the most obvious reason and an insult to gay women. Ugh

  • Posted April 3, 2017 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    I was searching for one of my favorites, Julia Loktev, but I guess neither of her features were notable enough to make the list. Having only seen one (less confident) film from Rebecca Miller, I can’t speak to her artistic notability, but she’s gotten some notable actors in her recent films. What’s more surprising is that Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann isn’t on either, even though that got a lot of critical attention recently (and is getting an American adaptation with Jack Nicholson & Kristen Wiig), the only movie of its year to make that recent BBC list of the greatest films of all time. And as long as I’m bringing up European directors whose films I haven’t actually seen, Athina Rachel Tsangari hasn’t quite gotten the recognition of her frequent collaborator Yorgos Lanthimos, but her recent “Chevalier” was very well received.

    The podcast Battleship Pretension had an episode a week ago on what they called “Indie-Lite” movies, wherein David Bax speculated that the reason a lot of young (white) male directors make one or two indie movies and then get hired for franchises is because they don’t make the mistake (more common among women) of actually making a good movie. I can’t say I found that more plausible than Tyler Smith’s view, but it came to mind while reading this.

    • Posted April 6, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for your comment! We have posted articles on Julia Loktev’s ‘The Loneliest Planet,’ Rebecca Miller’s ‘Maggie’s Plan,’ and Maren Ade’s ‘Toni Erdmann.’ And Rachel Tsangari’s ‘Chevalier’ is a good film too.

      Considering that this list is already at 59 women filmmakers, we had to stop at some point. We could have easily listed many, many more. We wanted a list that was diverse in representation that was inclusive of women of color, trans women, and queer women filmmakers. We also wanted to include films from a range of genres and from various decades.

      As far as why women filmmakers don’t get hired for franchises, it has nothing to do with whether or not they made a “good” film. The crux of the problem is sexism and discrimination. Regardless of critical acclaim or box office success, women filmmakers are hired less frequently than men for both indie films and major studio films. Studios often use excuses like certain women filmmakers don’t have enough experience (yet studios have no problem hiring men with little experience) or they don’t want to make action films (an assumption not made for male filmmakers). In the rare case when women are hired for franchises, even if the first film does well at the box office, the studio will often hire a male filmmaker for the subsequent films, as was the case with both Catherine Hardwicke (‘Twilight’) and Sam Taylor-Johnson (‘Fifty Shades of Grey’).

      • Posted April 6, 2017 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

        Fair enough, any time anyone on the internet comes up with a list, someone else will note omissions. Although if you wanted more chronological diversity, you might have highlighted an earlier Bigelow film. Also, a search on Maren Ade didn’t turn up any post dedicated to her specifically, just one on the 2016 New York Film Festival.

        You talk about women not getting to helm franchises due to sexism, yet one of your examples is The Matrix, a franchise greenlit by a studio to a pair known then as the Wachowski brothers. I think we can say they were not restricted by sexism at the time. Given their very different experience in Hollywood, would it really make sense to lump that in with these other films? The great thing about the internet is that anyone can put whatever content they want on their own sites, but if I was aiming for thematic unity in that regard I wouldn’t.

        • Posted April 10, 2017 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

          Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski are trans women. Trans women are women. Period. Full stop. Since this is a theme week on women directors, we are inclusive of trans women filmmakers. Referring to them by their former moniker misgenders them which is disrespectful. In regards to Lana and Lilly Wachowski having a different experience in Hollywood, I would suggest reading Laverne Cox’s statements refuting that she had male privilege as a trans woman: http://fusion.net/laverne-cox-talks-about-male-privilege-and-a-true-gende-1793859130

          And yes, the article on the 2016 New York Film Festival discusses ‘Toni Erdmann.’

          • Posted April 11, 2017 at 1:40 am | Permalink

            Cox describes it as “complicated”, being a relatively feminine child who was encouraged in school (as were cis girls) but called a “girl”. I don’t know if the Wachowskis experienced that, although the fact that they were both married to women at the time they made the Matrix (and still are, although Lana had a divorce in between) is suggestive that they might more resemble the type Laverne was saying get more media attention. Media coverage at the time didn’t seem to depict them as anything other than white straight cis males. And I would argue that perception is a big part of privilege, and it is unlikely to be random chance that resulted in them directing all three entries of their franchise whereas the examples you provided only got to make the first (I can’t name off the top of my head a big budget franchise continually directed by a cis woman or pair of them either).

            I referred to the fact that the Wachowskis were known as brothers at the time, which is not the same as referring to them as such in the present.

          • Posted April 11, 2017 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

            Like I said before, this is our theme week on women directors. Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski ARE women directors, hence their inclusion on our list of women directors and their films.

  • Jourdain Searles
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Is it okay if we cover a film that’s been covered on the site before? For example, Eve’s Bayou has been covered a few times. The Fits has been covered once. Wadjda’s been covered twice, etc.

    • Posted April 18, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for asking! Yes! It’s definitely okay to write about films that we have previously published articles on, especially if your article focuses on a different aspect or perspective of the film.

  • Posted April 16, 2017 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    If I would like to submit an article, should I first send you a pitch or directly submit the full article? Thank you in advance!

    • Posted April 18, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      We always appreciate pitches first but we accept articles submitted without them as well. Thank you for asking!

      • Posted April 18, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        Ok, thanks! I really love this blog and its content, and have always wanted to answer one of your writers calls. I doubt I’ll be able to reach the deadline for this one (considering as this week is turning out to be very work-heavy), but I’ll keep an eye out for the next one 😀