Labelling Directors as “Women”

Labelling Directors as “Women”

Seda Aktaş (Gelişim University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1774-1.ch013


The subject of this chapter is the conditions of the film industry in Turkey and the effects of the invisible pressures of the male-dominated system have on female directors and their productions. The basic question to be analysed is whether the problems they face are related to their gender and patriarchal system. Interviews will be conducted with female directors in order to understand the processes of production they undergo within the industry, the factors which influence their narrative choices, as well as to unpack the meaning of what it entails to be a “woman”/“female” director.
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The history of filmmaking is full of hidden women actors as history was biasedly written. There are many major women figures in the history of filmmaking. One of them is Alice Guy Blaché, a filmmaker, is considered to have never existed in the traditional male-dominated sources of film university, or passed on by footnotes. Whereas in 1896 she directed La Fée aux Choux’s that is the first fiction film only a year after Georges Méliès, Auguste and Louis Lumière who were considered to be the pioneers of cinema (Mcmahan, 2003:5)

The history is full of these kinds of examples of women. That is one of the reasons that studies should be done to reveal these hidden figures for rewriting art history. Although there is a discrepancy in leading roles and representations of women in films, this research focuses on women worked behind the scenes especially directors and the difficulties that they face while making films.

It is presented that there is an extreme discrepancy between male and female industry professionals in the film industry in the report “The Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women on the Top 100, 250, and 500 Films of 2018” by Martha M. Lauzen. Following this report, in 2018, from the top 250 domestic movies, only 20% of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers were women. Although there is an increase in the percentages, only 1% of films employed 10 or more women in these roles in 2018. The percentage of women directors was 8% on the top 250 films (Lauzen,2015).

Jane Campion the one female director has ever won the Palme d’Or, described the situation as ‘insane’. Oneone, the woman has ever won an Oscar for the best director, Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2009. There is that it is not only a problematic issue in the film industry as it is closely related to social conditions reflected in different fields. Although film festivals such as Cannes tried to build a gender-balanced jury, right is different for films. Only three, out of 21 directors in the running for the 2018 Palme d’Or is female. The data shows that it is a male-dominated industry as 12% of the directors, 8% of cinematographers, 6% of film music composers were female in 2017 in prestigious film festivals. Film critic, Anna Smith explains this by saying “Some studios might consider a female director more of a ‘risk’ than a male director, whether they admit it or not” she says. “So if a film is directed by a man, and financed by male studio heads, you may be more likely to see a gender imbalance.” (Quick, 2018)

In Turkey, the situation and percentages are not so surprising. There is male domination both in film sets and films. In 2018 among 105 films which have been released in cinemas, 10 has women directors. Hence, in the top 15 movies, there are 3 women directors. In 2017, 9 of the movies that have been released have women directors among 145 films. In 2016 among 97 projects, 7 were directed by women directors (2018 Türk Filmleri IMDb, 2018).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Positive Discrimination: In the context of the allocation of resources or employment) the practice or policy of favouring individuals belonging to groups known to have been discriminated against previous.

Patriarchal: Relating to or denoting a system of society or government controlled by men.

Feminism: The advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.

Male-Dominated: Controlled mainly by or consisting mainly of men.

Discrepancy: An illogical or surprising lack of compatibility or similarity between two or more facts.

Resistance: The refusal to accept or comply with something.

Sexism: Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.

Discrimination: The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

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