It takes a lot to shock me these days, but when I saw the recent line-up for The Hollywood Reporter‘s annual Directors Roundtable I was in a state of disbelief. Each year the industry trade paper assembles a strong cross section of the year’s best directors and gathers them for a tête-à-tête to discuss the state of cinema and the year’s best. This year, however, it seems they’ve dropped the ball in a major way, missing some of this year’s best directors — many of whom are women. I’m not normally one to jump on the gender bandwagon, but this time it seems undeniable that something doesn’t quite smell right with this line-up. The following is the list of directors chosen for this year’s roundtable:
Michel Hazanavicius: The Artist
Steve McQueen: Shame
Bennett Miller: Moneyball
Mike Mills: Beginners
Alexander Payne: The Descendants
Jason Reitman: Young Adult
Is this a joke? Moneyball, The Descendants, and Young Adult? THR rightfully deserves the shitstorm of controversy this selection is sure to attract. Indiewire cleverly pointed out this ridiculous piece of the conversation between THR and the directors in particular
THR: You’re all men, and only one of you, Steve, is a minority — why is that?
McQUEEN: I must be in America.
MILLS: Yeah, why isn’t there a woman here? My wife could be sitting here.
THR: Name a female director who made a major film this year.
MILLS: Miranda July [“The Future”].
PAYNE: Lynne Ramsay [“We Need to Talk About Kevin”], Andrea Arnold [“Wuthering Heights”].
THR: OK, but you’re talking about small films that have been little seen in America.
McQUEEN: I mean, the question could be different. The question could be, “Why aren’t there more black directors?” because there are obviously more women directors than black directors.
THR: So what’s the answer?
McQUEEN: I have no idea. I mean, it’s opportunity, isn’t it? That’s what it’s about — opportunity. And access, because some people just give up. I’m always astonished by American filmmakers, particularly living in certain areas, when they never cast one black person, or have never put them in a lead in the movie. I’m astonished. It’s shameful. How do you live in New York and not cast a black actor or a Latino actor? It’s shameful. It’s unbelievable.
REITMAN: Not stepping into that.
MILLER: I don’t know.
Yeah, I told you it smelled bad. It’s almost painful to read isn’t it? I hope THR takes it straight up the ass for what has to be the most ridiculous line of questioning I’ve ever read in my life. This would be out of place even for a high school newspaper. No one is denying that these men are talented directors, but give me a break. This interview and poorly-crafted line-up should go down in the Hall Of Fame Of Fuckups. As Indiewire points out: “First of all, the questions are uninformed and presumptuous. The directors themselves are better versed in the films of 2011 (too bad they couldn’t have interviewed each other). Then, after getting three examples of women who’ve directed quality films this year (Women and Hollywood adds to that list with Maryam Keshavarz – ‘Circumstance,’ Dee Rees – ‘Pariah,’ Larysa Kondracki – ‘The Whistleblower’; and so can we: Céline Sciamma – ‘Tomboy,’ Julia Leigh – ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ Sarah Polley – ‘Take this Waltz,’ Andrea Arnold – ‘Wuthering Heights’), THR contradicts and justifies itself by calling these ‘small films’ that have been ‘little seen.’ Perhaps, but as of right now the general public also hasn’t seen ‘The Artist,’ ‘The Descendants,’ ‘Shame’ or ‘Young Adult,’ which could also be called ‘small films.'” To read the entire Indiewire article on this year’s poorly crafted (and sexist) THR line-up be sure to visit Indiewire as well as Women In Hollywood.