At this yr’s Sundance Film Festival opening weekend, Gloria Allred, the famed girls’s rights lawyer, bought on a snow-covered stage in Park City, Utah and declared “this entire year has been the winter of our discontent!” She was commemorating the first yr of Donald Trump’s presidency, but additionally the one-year anniversary of final yr’s Women’s March, the yr of #MeToo, and now the begin of the yr that, in Hollywood no less than, might be referred to as the yr of Time’s Up and different efforts for equality in the business. She may’ve been quoting two male writers—John Steinbeck by method of William Shakespeare—however she was calling for a time when their narratives are now not the presumed default.
That change, that tradition shift, was throughout this yr’s Sundance movie fest. Seeing Red, a documentary about Allred herself that premiered at the pageant, served as a outstanding image of that shift, however there have been many others: motion pictures about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, queer girls despatched to homosexual conversion camps, and a girl coming to phrases together with her personal sexual abuse (tailored from a journal written by the director when she was 13 years outdated). And these had been only a few of the many movies by and about girls at this yr’s pageant. In an business the place solely eight of the 100 top-grossing motion pictures of the final yr had been directed by girls, the pageant’s lineup this yr is 37 p.c the work of feminine helmers.
The fest additionally grew to become house to scores of discussions about the roles of girls in Hollywood, and the recalibration that comes with a brand new actuality. “It’s an uncomfortable time,” actress Octavia Spencer said during the “Women Breaking Barriers” panel. “It’s uncomfortable, however we now have to permit this course of to occur. If you assume that this can be a female-versus-male motion, it’s not. Empowered girls aren’t anti-male, we’re simply empowered.”
After years of pronounced disparity in males’s and girls’s directing and appearing roles (and pay), Hollywood discovered itself beneath a brighter highlight in 2017; reporting about alleged sexual harassment by Harvey Weinstein—as soon as the king of Sundance energy strikes—led to an outpouring of tales about sexual misconduct by highly effective males in the business. Those revelations became a reckoning in a number of industries, united beneath a resurgence of Tarana Burke’s #MeToo motion on-line, whereby many ladies got here ahead to share their very own tales of harassment and assault. Women in Hollywood then united to begin Time’s Up—a authorized protection fund to fight harassment and inequality in the office.
That wave of exercise makes many longing for severe, long-lasting change—particularly in the leisure world. “Sundance is a cultural phenomena and if it’s elevating not only women, but really making such a serious effort at diversity across the board, that will have an impact,” says Roberta Grossman, one of the administrators of Seeing Allred. “It will ripple beyond this festival. I think that what’s happening now with the #MeToo movement, women and men in Hollywood are going to take this more seriously now. Not just sexual abuse but the opportunities for women filmmakers. I hope that things will really move forward—that there won’t just be a commission or two and a couple speeches at award shows.”
While on their face illustration and harassment seem to be distinct and even disparate points, they’re half of a bigger cycle. Sexual harassment and sexism in Hollywood has arguably stored feminine administrators, cinematographers, and others from reaching their full potential. Same with unequal wages, lack of alternatives, and the dearth of funding for female-fronted initiatives. (During a post-screening Q&A for The Tale, director Jennifer Fox famous she spent years attempting to get financing for her movie about an grownup lady coming to phrases with childhood sexual abuse.)
The result’s fewer motion pictures—drivers of empathy for all varieties of the human expertise—advised from a feminine perspective. In flip, there are fewer of these movies in festivals and theaters, perpetuating an concept that no urge for food exists for tales by and about girls. (For rebuttal of which, please see Exhibits Wonder Woman and Girls Trip.) Two promising avenues to fight the cycle, then, are to establish and publicize harassment, the method Time’s Up is doing, and again motion pictures made by girls.
Bridging the chasm between phrases and motion, nonetheless, might be the final check of what long-term results final week’s pageant has. Getting feminine filmmakers and girls’s tales into the pageant is a begin, but it surely’s much more vital that these motion pictures discover wider distribution and grow to be accessible to audiences exterior of these few thousand who can afford a weeklong Utah trip in mid-January yearly.
Early indicators are good. Desiree Akhavan’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post, a movie a few younger lady getting despatched off to homosexual conversion camp, took house the US dramatic grand jury prize—basically the pageant’s prime honor—and Handmaid’s Tale director Reed Morano took house the US dramatic particular jury award for excellence in filmmaking for her post-apocalypse drama I Think We’re Alone Now. Beyond that, Jennifer Fox’s The Tale offered to HBO, and Leave No Trace, the newest from from director Debra Granik, who made Jennifer Lawrence a star with Winter’s Bone, went to Bleeker Street. The offers weren’t enormous, however in a comparatively anemic acquisitions yr when power-player streaming providers like Amazon and Netflix didn’t go away with any movies they didn’t carry themselves, they’re about pretty much as good as might be anticipated.
Everything else, although, is open-ended. “We’ve had a lot of interest in our film and sensed a lot of interest about these other films about strong women, but ultimately the gatekeepers in this business are white men,” says Amy Adrion, director of Half the Picture, a movie about the low numbers of feminine administrators that has but to search out distribution. “Most of the reviewers, distributors, the manufacturing firms, brokers—you continue to must persuade a person that the story is price telling, has worth, and can discover an viewers. That is the problem.”
A problem, and an extended street forward. Shifting an business as entrenched as Hollywood was by no means going to be straightforward, and if/when it occurs, it’ll take years, perhaps many years. But the momentum is there. Asked about the future, Marta Kauffman, the Friends co-creator and producer of Seeing Allred is hopeful, however cautious. “We have a lengthy strategy to go,” she says. “On the other hand, we’re never going back.”