The 78th Venice Film Festival has just ended, an edition of great artistic value with many important guests, yet not without controversy, as often happens when women are the winners. In fact, the Golden Lion for Best Picture this year went to The event by Audrey Diwan, the Grand Jury Prize was awarded instead It was the hand of God by Paolo Sorrentino, while the one for best direction was won by Jane Campion for The power of the dog.
These days public opinion remains divided, and a good chunk of people is firmly convinced that those received by women are undeserved rewards.
Last year too Nomadland by Chloé Zhao won the Golden Lion for Best Picture, and many argued that it was a political choice, which was won by the “notorious politically correct”, despite the film then dominated at the Oscars. Similarly, also that of The event by Audrey Diwan is considered an undeserved victory. Once again there are many who say that it was rewarded only as a woman, that there were films more deserving than his, and that in short, they wanted to tick “the genre box”.
It has always existed a double standard about how we make our judgments about men and women, which goes hand in hand with numerous stereotypes. Cinema is certainly not exempt from it.
According to the collective imagination, directing is something that requires not only technical skills, but also control and leadership, characteristics considered typically masculine. Such thoughts contribute, along with many other prejudices, to the difficult access of women in the audiovisual industry, especially in those roles considered to be the prerogative of men. The numbers in fact speak for themselves.
According to the report by Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which studies diversity and inclusion in entertainment, in Hollywood among the top 100 highest-grossing films of 2019, female directors accounted for just 10.7%. In Europe, the data is improving a bit, but the situation remains equally disheartening: according to the Female Directors and Screenwriters in European Film and Audiovisual Fiction Production research, published by the European Audiovisual Observatory, between 2015 and 2018 only 22% some European films were directed by women.
It is undeniable that such a low presence of women behind the camera has an impact on people’s perception of products made by the female gender.
In cinema, the male gaze has always been supported by a managerial and productive sector with a majority of men. So, we are so used to that gaze in audiovisual productions, that when a woman manages to emerge with her point of view we are disoriented, and we look for the reasons for its success within the genre and not its capabilities.
Given a world that is changing, a vision of this type is no longer acceptable, it is essential to work on those biases that the patriarchal culture has always fed. The time has come to broaden our gaze and change the way we place ourselves on products made by women.