While female directors were snubbed again at the Academy Awards 2019 for Best director (only five women have ever been nominated), the success of the female directors in other categories can be celebrated.
When it came to Best documentary feature, Best documentary short and Best animated short film, women directors and filmmakers were taking home the Oscars and making Academy Award history.
The award for for Best documentary feature went to Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi who won alongside co-director Jimmy Chin for ‘Free Solo’. The documentary follows Professional rock climber Alex Honnold as he becomes the first person to ever free solo climb Yosemite’s 3,000 ft high El Capitan wall. With no ropes or safety gear, he completed arguably the greatest feat in rock climbing history.
Filmmakers Rayka Zehtabchi and Melissa Berton won the Oscar for Best documentary short for ‘Period. End of a Sentence’. The documentary short is about a group of women who use a machine to make low-cost sanitary pads in a village in central India’s Hapur district in a bid to improve female hygiene, women’s empowerment and development. They name their brand “FLY,” because they want women “to soar.” Their flight is, in part, enabled by the work of high school girls half a world away, in California, who raised the initial money for the machine and began a non-profit called “The Pad Project.”
Female film makers Domee Shi and Becky Neiman-Cobb won the award for Best animated short film for BAO. Director, Domee Shi, became the first woman of colour to win the Oscar for Best Animated Short, and also the first woman to have directed a short film for Pixar. The animated short film is about a Chinese-Canadian woman suffering from empty nest syndrome gets a second shot at motherhood when one of her handmade dumplings comes alive.
Other female directors who made films last year who should celebrated – and “Could have made the Oscars shortlist,” says BBC’s entertainment reporter Neil Smith – are Debra Granik (Leave No Trace), Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here), Josie Rourke (Mary Queen of Scots), and Chloe Zhao (The Rider).
This year the Academy has invited more members, so time will tell if this helps create more equality and diversity for the nominees and awards in the future.
Which other female directors/film makers should be celebrated? Please share in the comments below.