Advocating for women in media is something very close to my heart, as many of you already know. So it’s not surprising that this was my top pick for a movie to see while I was at SXSW.
Directed by Amy Adrion, Half the Picture is a documentary about the severe lack of female directors in the film industry. It’s comprised of multiple women we know and love. A few of them being Ava DuVernay, Penelope Spheeris, Gina Prince-Blythewood, Brenda Chapman and so many others. This film is being released at just the right time. Hollywood is evolving, and with the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements in a constant motion, this film is a perfect fit into the mold.
Though there’s portions of this film that are upsetting to see (for instance that of the 1,223 directors helming 1,100 top grossing films from 2007 to 2017, only 4% were women), I left the theater feeling empowered and hopeful.
These women have worked incredibly hard to achieve their goals, and it’s difficult hearing their stories of what they had to endure just to get there. Each one is vulnerable in discussing their experiences on set, from sexual harassment to verbal harassment. There's so many hoops to jump through just to prove you're capable. Many of them mention how easy it is for a white male to be handed a blockbuster without question, but when a female or person of color gets the opportunity the question is “are you sure you can handle it?” Yes, yes they can. A director is a director, there should be no assigned gender or race. This is heavily emphasized throughout the entire documentary. It doesn’t matter your race or gender; a director is a director. Women account for 52% of moviegoers, and the rise of empowering female-led films is helping to increase that number. Women have stories to tell that we want to see, and it shows at the box office.
So, why did I leave this movie teary eyed but optimistic? Because it delivers a message of hope. These women did it, and you can too. There shouldn’t have to be a barrier, and that’s what this film is wanting to break down. With the progressive movements in Hollywood pushing for a change and for gender equality, this film couldn’t have come at a better time. Women have new and different perspectives to share with the world, it's time we start giving more of them the platform they deserve.