Helen Mirren Calls for More Women Directors, Is Our Favorite Person Ever
As if we needed another reason to love Dame Helen Mirren!
True story: I want to be Helen Mirren when I grow up. I realize that this is unlikely to happen, but I honestly can’t think of a better role model for women in show business than Dame Helen; not only is she uber-talented, fantastic to work with, and a master of the art of aging gracefully, but even more so, she’s just sent out a call for more women directors in the film industry. Someone to look up to? Definitely.
Helen accepted a lifetime achievement award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival this past Friday, because she’s fabulous—but also because she’s fabulous, she had some very candid things to say about the state of the film industry with regards to the women working within it at the same time. According to the Hollywood Reporter, she recalled her early career as being extremely male-dominated when it came to the directors and crew: “When I was making those films,” she said of pictures like 1968’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and 1969’s Age of Consent, “there were very, very few female directors, and there were certainly no women on set, which made taking one’s clothes off all the more difficult.” We can imagine.
And although Helen acknowledges that there has been at least some progress since then—in 2009, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director—at the same time, she questions whether we’ve made enough progress. After all, why did it take until 2009—only three years ago—for a woman to win the Best Director Oscar in the first place? Said Helen, “Things have moved on, but as far as I’m concerned, they haven’t moved on enough. I don’t know how many female directors are presenting their films in this festival. I very much doubt that it’s 50%. Not too many, I’m sure.” As much progress as we’ve made over the years, there’s still a long, long way to go.
Dame Helen’s words resonate particularly stronger in the wake of Nora Ephron’s death last week; one of the most successful women filmmakers of her generation, her loss will be deeply felt. Helen added that should she return to Karlovy Vary in five years, she’d want to see at least 50% of the festival’s films being presented by women directors. Hear, hear!
Ladies (and gentlemen)? Let’s get cracking!
Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s associate editor