Top 8 female directors

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Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director in 2009. (Credit: 20th Century Fox)

Yet again there was an absence of female directors in this year’s major awards ceremonies nominations. Apart from Kathryn Bigelow’s 2009 Academy Award Best Director win for her film, The Hurt Locker, female directors have largely been neglected from the best director category at the Oscars as well as the BAFTAs.

Despite this, there is an abundance of talented creative women who should be known and appreciated for their contributions to the world of film. So, just in time for International Women’s Day, here’s a list of 10 fantastic female directors.

1) Lynne Ramsey

'You Were Never Really Here' premiere, BFI London Film Festival, UK - 14 Oct 2017

Lynne Ramsey’s latest film You Were Never Really Here starred Joaquin Phoenix in the leading role. (Credit: Pete Summers)

Scottish-born director, cinematographer, writer and producer, Lynne Ramsey, won the Cannes Jury Prize for her first short film Small Deaths and since then has gone on to direct, write and produce a number of successful films. We Need to Talk About Kevin, released in 2011, starring Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly and Ezra Miller was met with positive reviews and was nominated for a number of awards including a BAFTA and a Golden Globe. Most recently Ramsey wrote, directed and produced psychological thriller starring Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here. The film won best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017.

 

2) Ava DuVernay

Before diving into the world of film, Ava DuVernay was involved in journalism and PR, working for 20th Century Fox, but ended up creating her own PR agency, The DuVernay Agency. But since 2005, after she made her first film Saturday Night Life, DuVernay has been involved in the production of films, television, music videos and advertising. In 2014, she directed Selma, a film based on the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 led by Martin Luther King Jr. The film was nominated for best picture at the Oscars but DuVernay missed out on a best director nomination. Most recently, DuVernay is set to direct a New Gods adaptation for the DC Extended Universe.

 

3) Jennifer Kent

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Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook terrified audiences in 2014. (Credit: Indiewire)

Starting her career as an actress, Jennifer Kent starred in a number of Australian-based television series before becoming an acting teacher at the Australian Film Television and Radio School. But it was in 2014 that she wrote and made her directorial debut making one of the most memorable horror films of the 21st century, The Babadook. Following the story of a mother and son in turmoil as they are haunted by a disturbing presence in their home, The Babadook received rave reviews from critics and won a number of awards including best horror at the 20th Empire Awards.

 

4) Karyn Kusama

After working on documentary films following her graduation from New York University, Karyn Kusama directed her first feature film, Girlfight, starring Michelle Rodriguez (Avatar, Widows) and released it in 2000. The film received a series of awards including the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Since then, Kusama directed the cult classic comedy horror film Jenifer’s Body in 2009 and in 2015 directed the well-received psychological thriller, The Invitation. Now available on Netflix, The Invitation follows a number of couples at a dinner party gone wrong.

 

5) Valerie Faris

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The dysfunctional Hoover family captured the hearts of audiences in Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton’s Little Miss Sunshine. (Credit: Eric Lee/Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Teamed up with her husband, Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris has won six MTV Music Video Awards while directing music videos for The Smashing Pumpkins, R.E.M. and Oasis just to name a few. However, the pair made their feature film directorial debut in 2006 with the highly successful, Little Miss Sunshine, which one two BAFTAs and two Oscars. The film starred big names including Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell and Alan Arkin and followed the Hoover family as they took a road-trip to watch Olive (Abigail Breslin), compete in the ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ beauty pageant. Faris is currently working on Living With Yourself, a comedy series starring Paul Rudd set to be released on Netflix in the next year.

 

6) Catherine Hardwicke

It wouldn’t be a proper list of great female directors without the woman responsible for the first movie in the Twilight Saga. Love it or hate it, based on the novel by Stephanie Meyer, Twilight made $35.7 million in the US on its opening day and at the time, the film’s opening weekend gross was the most ever made by a film directed by a women. Twilight aside, Catherine Hardwicke also directed The Nativity Story (2006), Red Riding Hood (2011) and most recently Miss Bala (2019).

 

7) Mary Harron

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Christian Bale starred as Patrick Bateman in Marry Harron’s American Psycho. (Credit: Culturised)

Starting out as a music journalist writing for Punk magazine, Mary Harron also wrote for The Guardian and The Observer before directing a number of documentaries for the BBC. Following her directorial debut I Shot Andy Warhol, Harron went on to direct American Psycho in the year 2000, based on the book by Brett Easton Ellis. The black-comedy starred Christian Bale in the leading role as the infamous Patrick Bateman, alongside Willem Defoe, Jared Leto, Justin Theroux and Reese Witherspoon. Harron has also directed numerous TV series including the 2017 Netflix miniseries, Alias Grace. 

 

8) Kathryn Bigelow

Becoming the first woman ever to win the Academy Award for Best Director in 2009 for her 2008 film, The Hurt Locker. Bigelow’s first feature directorial debut was The Loveless (1981), a biker drama starring Willem Defoe in the leading role. Since then, Kathryn Bigelow has directed and written a number of successful movies including the 2017 film Detroit, which stars John Boyega, Will Poulter and Algee Smith, just to name a few.

 

You can check out our favourite female film characters podcast here.

 

Scottish Government plans to tackle pay gap

In celebration of International Women’s Day, the Scottish Government has announced its first Gender Pay Gap Action Plan.

The action plan has been put in place to tackle gender discrimination and inequalities in the workplace. The gender pay gap in Scotland for full-time employees has decreased to 5.7% in 2018, from 6.6% in 2017.

The plan will help the Scottish Government to meet its target of reducing the gender pay gap by 2021. The plan includes over 50 actions, including:

  • Supporting 2,000 women on their return to work after a career break through the new Women Returners Programme, worth £5 million over three years, building on the success of a pilot project run since 2017.
  • Improving workplace practices, including support for women during menopause and for victims of domestic abuse, through the expansion of the Workplace Equality Fund.
  • Refreshing the gender and diversity element of the Scottish Business Pledge.
  • Urging the UK Government to strengthen and enforce the protection of women and carers against discrimination and dismissal – including strengthening paternity leave rights and introducing ‘safe leave’ which would provide victims of domestic violence with additional leave.
  • Promoting gender equality within early learning and child care; schools, colleges, and universities; and within employment support or social security systems.
  • Commissioning a feasibility study for a ‘What Works Centre for Flexible Work’ to design, test and embed new approaches to increasing the availability of flexible working – in particularly for low income parents.
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(Credit: Creative Commons)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launched the plan today (March 8th) at Business Gateway’s Woman in Business event, to mark International Women’s Day. She said: “The package of measures set out in Scotland’s first Gender Pay Gap Action Plan are a historic landmark in our march to achieving gender equality and closing the gender pay gap.

“While the gender pay gap in Scotland is now the lowest on record and lower than the UK as a whole we still have much progress to make, which requires long term solutions not short term fixes.”

The First Minister  also laid out the specifics of the action plan: “Our plan sets out a whole system approach across public, private and third sectors and looks at breaking down the cause of the gender pay gap throughout a young girl’s life – from challenging gender stereotyping in early years learning and schools to supporting employers to adopt inclusive and flexible workplace practices to help mothers return to work after a career break.

“This plan is not just about supporting girls and women to participate equally in our labour market. It is also about promoting and installing fair work principles and setting out the benefits these can bring to all individuals, employers and the Scottish economy.”

 

Podcast: Our favourite female characters

In this podcast, Liam Mackay, Bryce Arthur, Jade du Preez and Olivia Hill discuss their favourite favourite female characters in film.

You can also check out our movie and TV news round-up here!

1919 – 2019: A century of women’s success

In celebration of International Women’s Day, and to reflect on Women’s History Month, this timeline highlights ten major changes which have made the world a better place for women over the last century.

1921: Edith Wharton becomes the first woman to win Pulitzer Prize

Wharton’s novel The Age of Innocence examined the narrowness and bigotry of the upper class in turn-of-the-century New York. Wharton rewrote history as she became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for her novel. She followed this success by becoming the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from Yale.

1932: Amelia Earhart flies solo across the Atlantic

Earhart became the first woman to fly non-stop across the Atlantic and is the only person since Charles Lindbergh to do so. In her famous red Lockheed Vega, she flew from Harbor Grace in Newfoundland, Canada and landed near Londonderry in Northern Ireland 15 hours later. Proving she was both a brave and capable pilot, Earhart became an overnight worldwide phenomenon.

Amelia Earhart in airplane

Amelia Earhart in airplane (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

1941: Women serve in the armed forces for the first time during World War II

As most British men were defending their country on foreign soil, the women back home took on a host of jobs traditionally done by men during the Second World War and many ended up in the armed forces. By 1943, there were over 640,000 women in the army which included The Women’s Royal Naval Service, the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

1955: Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus to a white man

When Parks, a black seamstress, refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama city bus in 1955, she set in motion a course of events that would change history. Through this spontaneous act, she sparked the civil right movement in the United States. Leaders of a local black community organised a bus boycott, which eventually lasted 381 days, on the same day Parks was charged with violating segregation laws.

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Rosa Parks (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

1963: Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman to fly to space

Tereshkova was a Soviet cosmonaut and was the first woman to travel into space in June 1963. During three days, she orbited the Earth a total of 48 times. It was her only trip to space and she later toured around the world to advocate for Soviet science. Inspiring women everywhere, she once said: “If women can be railroad workers in Russia, why can’t they fly in space?” Tereshkova still remains active in the space community.

A protrait of Valentina tereshkova

A protrait of Valentina Tereshkova (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

1979: The United Kingdom elects its first female Prime Minister

Margaret Thatcher was the first female Prime Minister in Britain and served from 1979 until 1990, making her the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century. However, Thatcher was a controversial figure, often criticised as she reduced the influence of trade unions, changed the terms of political debate, scaled black public benefits and privatised certain industries.

1988: Julie Hayward becomes the first woman to win a case under the amended Equal Pay Act

Hayward was a canteen cook in Liverpool whose work was valued less than her male colleagues and was paid less. Supported by the GMB union and the Equal Opportunities Commission, she took her case to the House of Lords and eventually claimed equal pay for work of equal value.

1994: The United States Congress passes the Violence Against Women Act

The Violence Against Women Act is a landmark piece of legislation brought in by Bill Clinton that expanded the juridical tools to provide protection to women who had suffered violent abuses. It improved criminal justice responses to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking in the United States, passing with an exceptional $1.6 million budget.

2010: Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first women to win an Oscar for Best Director

The 2008 film The Hurt Locker picked up a total of six Oscars in March 2010 as well as the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. But it was the American director Bigelow winning an Oscar for Best Director for the film that made the headlines. She was the first woman to take home the award and triumphed over her ex-husband, James Cameron.

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Kathryn Bigelow (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

2018: Corinne Hutton becomes first female quadruple amputee to climb Mount Kilimanjaro

At 48, Hutton completed her ascent of the highest free-standing mountain in the world and is believed to be the first quadruple amputee to do so. After losing both hands and feet to sepsis in 2013, she set up Scotland-based amputee charity Finding Your Feet to offer peer support to all amputees in all stages of their life. Through her climb, she raised nearly £40,000. Hutton became the first Scottish double hand transplant recipient at the start of 2019 and now has two hands.

 

Cervical screening age: Is it time to lower it?

It is something that makes women of all ages cringe and squirm at the very thought of it. But there is no denying the importance of smear tests, sacrificing those few moments of your life can in fact save it.

Following on from Cervical Cancer Prevention week, the issue of lowering the age for smear tests from 25 to 18 has been debated by both Holyrood and Westminster. Momentum for the cause has been building ever since a petition created by 31 year old, mother of four  Natasha Salle received almost 200,000 signatures. Natasha died on the 28th of December last year, in her petition she said:

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The matter of lowering the age that women can receive smear tests is a controversial one. There have been tragic cases of young women finding themselves in the position of undergoing treatment for cervical cancer. These women are under the age of 25 and therefore do not qualify for regular check ups.

As a woman under the age of 25 it is in the back of one’s mind and it is a frightening thought that an illness like this could go undetected. By 18 a lot of young women are sexually active, having children and leading the same adult lives to that of a 25 year old. Surely this leaves them at risk of developing complications within their reproductive systems?

During a debate at Westminster this week SNP MP Hannah Bardell paid tribute to the Michelle Henderson Cervical Cancer Trust. A young woman whom Miss Bardell went to school with and died of the disease at age 28. The Livingston MP also spoke of her own experience of having irregularities caught at a young age.

“Many of us feel that we must listen to the health professionals; we absolutely must, but we must also consider the individual cases of those who, like me, had irregularities picked up early on. Well below the age at which cervical smears are now being carried out in Scotland, England and the rest of the UK.”

Watch the full debate here

However, NHS resources are becoming ever more stretched throughout the UK, and research shows that despite the few cases of very young women diagnosed, one in three tests on women below age 25 produces a false positive result. This can in turn do more harm than good and cause unnecessary stress. This information comes from the UK National Screening Committee that decided there is no real evidence to support reducing the age of screenings.

 

One thing all politicians agree on across the country is the importance of screening. All woman must do the efforts of women like Natasha justice and put their insecurities to one side. And whether or not the age is lowered the main message being conveyed is the vitality of making sure women of all ages know the signs of cervical cancer.
Efforts to raise awareness and encourage women to go for their smear tests was taken one step further last week. Big sister of Cara Delevigne, Chloe aged 33 had a smear test live on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme. Chloe admitted that it was the waiting that’s the worst part. As you can see from the video below, the test is quick and dignified- no red faces necessary ladies.
Signs of cervical cancer

 

 

 

 

 

Girls With Goals

Women’s football has never been so popular.

Scottish Women's Football Team. Credits to Anders Henrikson

Scottish Women’s Football Team. Credits to Anders Henrikson

It may not be the official sport of our nation, but football’s following in Scotland is one of the most passionate around the globe. Sorry, golf fans. However, while off the field problems can blur the importance of what’s happening on the pitch, one section appears unfazed by these issues: the women’s game.

Support for women’s football is on the rise in Scotland with match attendance and viewing figures growing every season.

One of the leading teams in Scotland, Glasgow City, is on course for what could be their 12th consecutive league title, beating league rivals Hibernian in the closing stages of the league campaign.

You could argue that City’s dominance in the division doesn’t make for the most compelling league to watch, but their style of play is up there with the best. Hibernian can give Glasgow a run for their money at the best of times – with both sides having some success in the Women’s Champions League in recent years.

The success of teams domestically has somewhat transitioned to the national team as well. The Scotland women’s side qualified for their first ever World Cup earlier this year, having played in their first finals tournament in the European Championships in 2017.

It’s been more than 20 years since Scotland’s men’s team qualified for a major football tournament yet the women’s team have restored faith in Scottish football. When the team arrives in France for the World Cup, they may feel slightly out their depth.

There’s no beating around the bush, the funding for Scotland’s women’s team is far behind the wages of other national sides. But, leading into this tournament, out of the 23 players in the Scotland squad, 19 are professional.

The remaining four non-professionals may have to leave Scotland and head south of the border – where there are no amateur clubs in the top flight – to pursue their dream of becoming full-time players; something which their male counterparts probably would not have to do.

However, the success of the national team has struck a chord with young girls across Scotland. Participation in women’s football has risen from 6,500 to 12,000, bringing the goal of a professional women’s league in Scotland a lot closer.

It’s shocking to believe women’s football was once banned in Scotland. During World War One, the attendances for women’s football exceeded 50,000 but came to a halt when the men came home. One hundred years later, it’s women who are bringing football home.

The peak in interest has prompted UEFA to provide women’s football with 50% more funding from the year 2020. An additional £2.4 million will be given to women’s football projects per year, provided by profits from their male counterparts.

The rise in funding aims to take football right to the top as Europe’s biggest female sport but to get there they also need to fund coaching development. Something UEFA assured they would do, as they announced plans to increase the number of qualified female coaches.

Scotland has a national side playing in the World Cup next year, something we haven’t seen with the men’s side for over two decades. We should be excited about the future of women’s football – it’s certainly about to kick off.

Opinion: Should Hillary Clinton still have to answer for her husband’s affair?

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Hillary Clinton in Arizona, 2016. Photo by Gage Skidmore (https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/25982365345)

 

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Monica Lewinsky.”

These will be the words forever synonymous with Clinton – even though Hillary Rodham Clinton never had the affair that has marred Bill Clinton’s political career. She will always be remembered and scrutinised as the woman that stood beside her husband when the going got tough, even though so many women do this. In the late 1990s it surfaced that Bill had had an affair with White House Intern Monica Lewinsky. An impeachment charge began and even though he had the highest end-of-office approval rating for a US President since World War II, the scandal severely impacted his career until the end of his term in 2001.

 

But this article isn’t about Bill Clinton or whether he was right or wrong to have engaged in any form of affair with Lewinsky, or whether the several sexual misconduct claims against his name are legitimate. This is about Hillary Rodham Clinton, and for once Bill isn’t going to highjack this one.

 

Hillary has had a distinguished career in both law and politics. She earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Yale Law School in the early 70s, and not even 6 years later she was the first female partner at a law firm in Arkansas. She gave birth to her only child, Chelsea Clinton in 1980 and between 1978 and 1993, she earned more money than Bill did – it was only when she became First Lady of the United States did Bill’s salary surpass her. This would make her the first First Lady to have a postgraduate degree to her name and have a career until she entered the White House. Carl Bernstein says in his book, A Woman In Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton, that she was apprehensive about getting married and feared that her hard earned achievements would be jeopardised by someone else – little did she know that her future would be fraught with nightmares. She made the unpopular decision in the 1970s to keep her last name as “it showed that I was still me.” She seems to want to keep her identity so badly and not lurk in the shadow of her husband – but it seems that the majority of people want to tear her down for the actions of someone else.

 

I want to know why we have such an issue with women in power in the West. Hillary has admitted in the past that her approval rating as First Lady was not the best, but she was arguably the most empowered, independent First Lady up until that point in history. She donned her bullet-proof vest and worked hard, she set an example for First Lady’s to come. Someone had to be the first First Lady to take the role by the reigns and achieve great things – you probably don’t know much about her accomplishments before she even walked into the White House. Of course, you know about Bill’s affair, you know about Monica Lewinsky, you know about his denial and then impeachment charges. But you don’t know that in the 1970s she helped set up Fayetteville’s first rape crisis centre and was the first female Senator for New York.

 

After her unsuccessful campaign to be the first female President of the USA, the sexism projected towards Hillary Rodham Clinton became incredibly clear. People feared that Bill would highjack her presidency, they brought up his affair again, they scrutinised her for not leaving him, they scrutinised her outfits, they overanalysed every word that fell from her mouth. But no one picked on her opposition Donald Trump’s questionable tie, his multiple wives, his sexual misconduct charges. When it seemed like she had been given the platform to shine on her own during a different time (20 years after Bill’s affair), she was once again subjected to sexism.

 

The word ‘first’ is used 12 times in this article for a reason, because Clinton was a pioneer in the field of politics and was a successful woman in law, but people still  condemn her because of her husband’s actions. It seems that Hillary’s worst nightmares have become a reality, even with the momentum of the #MeToo movement and her tireless advocacy of gender equality. The moral of the story here is to look beyond the towering figures of powerful men, to the women fighting harder for their place at the table. The women you find might surprise you.

 

Hillary Clinton

New scheme to help women get back into work announced

A new scheme has been announced today that will help women get back into work.

The scheme will help retrain woman who have taken an extended break from their careers and put them back to work.

This comes on the same day that it was revealed that the gender pay gap is closing, decreasing to 6.2% – down from 7.7% in 2015.

Scottish Government has awarded nearly £50,000 to Equate Scotland to help fund their Women Returners Project. The Project is to initially provide support to 40 women in the form of one to one guidance, career clinics, webinars and three-month placements that will be focussed on life sciences, digital skills and engineering.

Minister of Employability, Jamie Hepburn announced the plans at the SSE in Glasgow saying, “These latest figures show we are making some progress to narrow the gender pay gap in Scotland, and in comparison to the UK we are leading the way in gender and pay equality in the workplace.

“While Scotland continues to outperform the UK as a whole on female employment and is making inroads on tackling the gender pay gap, there is still more to do. With our funding for the Women Returners Project, improving the availability of childcare and flexible working, and promoting the Living Wage, we hope to close the gender gap once and for all.”

Talat Yaqoob, Director of Equate Scotland said, ““We are delighted that the Scottish Government is investing in our original pilot and we know this will make a difference to women and Scotland’s economy.”

 

 

Women work over a month more than men according to report

A new report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) has uncovered that women, on average, work 39 more days than men in a year.

The data, compiled by the WEF’s Global Gender Gap suggests women work on average 50 minutes more a day than men, with women in the UK working an average of 12 days more than men.

The report claims that unpaid work has such an effect on the economic inequality of women that it could take up to 170 years to close.

The gap in economic opportunity, the WEF says, is now larger than at any point since 2008.

Although men do 34% more paid work than women, women still spend more of their time on unpaid work such as housework, childcare and care for older people.

When this is factored in, the WEF calculates women work more than a month more than men per year.

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In India, Portugal and Estonia, this equates to more than 50 days more work for women than men per year.

Women work more hours than men in all but six countries studied. Of these six, three were Nordic countries where parental leave can be shared relatively evenly between the parents of a child.

Parental leave is a key factor in the amount of hours worked unpaid, with women bearing the brunt of care for their child. Paid leave for mothers greatly outweighs paid leave for father, a hotly contested issue, and on the whole governments are far more likely to accept the cost for maternity leave over paternity.

The report also shows that there is a limit to the positive effects that extra parental leave can have on the economy. In countries where paid leave exceeds two years, there is a notable decline the number of women likely to participate in the work force.

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