The Rise and Fall of Women Moviemakers in Hollywood

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Award winning film and TV critic and historian Carrie Rickey busts the myth attributing the dearth of women behind the cameras in Hollywood to historic gender bias in the industry. On the contrary, the earliest decades of the film industry featured highly talented and provocative film directors like Lois Weber, who circa 1915 made movies about abortion, infidelity and sexual harassment on the job. But then followed decades of systemic exclusion of women writers and directors. With the rise of the modern women’s movement came a burst of opportunity for women behind the camera, but it soon stagnated in what remained a deeply skewed male dominated industry. “The year I started as a movie critic was 1980” Carrie recalls in her interview with Scheer, “when female TV and movie directors were 0.5%, and by 2000, it was 11%, so I thought, ‘Okay, we're going in the right direction.’ But you know what? Eighteen years after 2000, it's still 11%. We're stalled.” Rickey debunks the most common rationalizations for the lack of female representation in Hollywood and insists that the way to change it is to stop talking about inclusion and just do it. Of her five- part series for Truthdig titled “What Happened to the Female Directors of Hollywood,” the Los Angeles Press Club judges said it “stands out for its examination of the gender gap in the film industry—how it started, and how it has been allowed to continue for so long. The research is exhaustive and the writing engaging.”

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Carrie Rickey by Morgan R. Levy

“The first feature film in the world was directed by a French woman named Alice Guy Blache.” - CR

“Having majority men behind the camera is inimical to equal employment, equal pay, and equal representation. When you see a world that is as it is now, 89% seen through the eyes of male directors, there's a lot you're not seeing.”- CR


Photo courtesy of Morgan R. Levy.