Quotes

Nadia Tass: “Sometimes a piece of work requires a different sensibility. [It] is more likely to work with a female perspective…the female has to be pretty strong to tell a group of male executives ‘OK now, you have to listen to me. This is how the script is and you need to come over to my perspective and see it for how it is because I think this version is really important”.
Rose Powell (2012) Director Nadia Tass on backing her creative vision to male executivesWomen’s Agenda

Brenda Chapman [on how how we (women) can get more women in positions of power in Hollywood]: “Mentor. Inspire. Move forward together”.
Brenda Chapman (2012) Stand Up for Yourself, and Mentor OthersThe New York Times

Dorothy Arzner: “I would like the [film] industry to be more aware of what they’re doing to influence people for good and for bad. There’s no doubt that we’re affected by our environment”.
Marjorie Rosen (1975) Popcorn Venus: Women, Movies and the American Dream. Peter Owen Ltd

Gurinder Chadha: “After ‘Bhaji On The Beach’, I didn’t make a movie for six years. I couldn’t get a movie off the ground for love nor money. It was a very tough time and I almost gave up. If I had been an Oxbridge bloke after ‘Bhaji’, my career would have been very different”.
Ian Watson (2004) Interview with Gurinder ChadhaSunday Herald

Brenda Chapman [on being replaced as the director on Brave]: “This was a story that I created, which came from a very personal place, as a woman and a mother. To have it taken away and given to someone else, and a man at that, was truly distressing on so many levels … Sometimes women express an idea and are shot down, only to have a man express essentially the same idea and have it broadly embraced. Until there is a sufficient number of women executives in high places, this will continue to happen”.
Adam B. Vary (2012) ‘Brave’ director Brenda Chapman breaks silence: Getting taken off film ‘heartbreaking… devastating… distressing’ Entertainment Weekly

Sally Potter: “You can’t really divorce women’s struggles in the world from women’s in the cinema. As long as there’s hierarchy it means that women are somehow secondary or second class or less than.  That’s going to be reflected in movies because films are the most powerful medium to reflect back  society’s view of itself”.
Melissa Silverstein (2012) TIFF: Interview with Sally Potter Women and Hollywood

Anu Menon: “The obstacle is whether a director has proven himself or herself – not the gender. There might a section of people who feel more comfortable to see men calling the shots, and that’s true for most industries, and across the world”.
IANS (2012) Women directors surpass gender politics in showbizWonder Woman

Delyth Thomas: “It is certainly the case that careers in directing are different for women than men.” [women] “tended to move sideways rather than up the chain”.
Maggie Brown (2012) Parade’s End director says sexism is still rife in drama world. The Guardian

Jane Campion: “To deny women directors, as I suspect is happening in the States, is to deny the feminine vision”.
Virginia Wright Wexman (1999) Jane Campion: Interviews. University Press of Mississippi

Charlotta Denward (head of production funding department at the Swedish Film Institute): “The fact that there is no international statistical data on gender distribution in the film world speaks for itself”.
Torun Börtz (2010) Swedish women behind the camera. Official website of Sweden 

Ava DuVernay: “Hollywood is a patriarchal structure that values men. Even in the independent film industry, you have to be able to convince someone, usually a man, to trust you with his money and that he will actually make it back”.
Nsenga Burton (2010) Black Women and the Hollywood Shuffle. The Root

Liz W. Garcia: “Sexism is real and it persists in film and television. I’ve seen female directors openly undermined by male cinematographers in front of the entire crew”.
Liz W. Garcia (2012) Women Can’t Gain Influence in Hollywood Because Women Don’t Look like Men. Forbes

Lucy Walker: “When a man directs a turkey, he’ll typically be hired much quicker again than a woman who has had a film bomb. But what’s most heartbreaking as a director are the success stories; the films directed by women that do fantastically well. Look at what happens to those women. Catherine Hardwicke, who directed the first Twilight film – a hit that came out of nowhere – was not hired to make the next one, but was described as too difficult to work with. Her next film had a budget twice as big as Twilight, but she couldn’t get the same fee. In Hollywood, when a guy directs a hit, his fee goes up, no questions asked. She was very upset about that”.
Amelia Hill (2012) Where are the women in film? The Guardian

Ann Hui: “To be honest, I am not especially pleased to be slotted primarily as a ‘woman filmmaker’, but it’s okay with me. Plus, I see the relevance and the strength of having a distinctive subject and drift for promotional purposes”.
Sarah Perks and Andy Wills (2012) An Interview with Ann Hui – Visible Secrets: Hong Kong’s Women Filmmakers. Cornerhouse

Margarehte von Trotta: “I always fought off that question [do women direct differently from men], as well as the question: Why do you only direct films about women? I simply said: If you ask Wim Wenders why he only directs films about men – he has changed in the meantime however – then you can ask me that”.
Ralf Krämer (2009) Interview – Margarethe von Trotta. Planet Interview (translated by LFFF)

Anusha Rizvi: “Like every field, this one too is male dominated. But one has to ignore that and move on. I am happy that more women are coming up and are going to be on the map for good”.
Preetha Nair (2010) Female film directors call the shotsWonder Woman

Antonia Bird, on her first directing job: “I was the only woman there, and all the guys just ­assumed I was the producer’s PA”.
Kira Cochrane (2010) Why are there so few female film-makers? The Guardian 

Mia Hansen-Løve: “During Cannes, I received emails asking about my view on this and I felt quite embarrassed because I don’t feel that there is any kind of discrimination. To me, maybe there are some problems about how films are selected in Cannes, but I think (the controversy over women) throws the attention to something that is not at all the real problem. The problem is more about the industry and how (filmmakers) get inside Cannes”.
Peter Howell (2012) Mia Hansen-Love, a firmly ambiguous filmmakerThe Star 

Tanuja Chandra: “I do wish there were many more women filmmakers in the industry. Unless and until half of the directors are women, one won’t really be able to say there is absolute gender equality in the movie business. At that time perhaps the pay structure will change too and women will earn as much money as men, whether actress or woman-director”.
IBN-Live (2012) Women directors surpass gender politics in Bollywood.

Ava DuVernay: “I think for female filmmakers a big issue is making their second and third films. You see the statistics, and the dropoff on the second and third [films], are dire. I think women are finding a way to kind of circumvent a lot of what you’re talking about and get that first film made but the big question for me is, where do you go after the first and second? You know, who has the longevity? Woody Allen had the opening-night film at LA Film Festival, and I was really just struck that this is a 70-something-year-old man. Where’s his American woman equivalent?”
Nicole Sperling (2012) Round table: Julie Delpy, Ava DuVernay and Leslye Headland on directing. LA Times

Deepa Metha: “I think that the perception [that there is a relatively small group of women from India who are taking most of the chances in film making] is a western one, because perhaps these are the few film makers that come outside. But within India, and the subcontinent there, there are really some incredibly courageous film makers who make fabulous films”.
Rubin Safaya (2006) Interview with Deepa Mehta. Cinemalogue

Lynne Ramsay: “Well, the film industry is completely sexist and completely class-biased. It’s not something I get on the ground level, it’s more from financiers and producers and distributors. It’s a way of dealing with you that is essentially patronising: I know better than you”.
Sean O’Hagan (2011) Lynne Ramsay: ‘Just talk to me straight’The Guardian

Mary Lambert: “It’s always a little annoying to be labelled a female film director because men are just ‘directors’”.
Lisa Marks (2012) The horror, the horror: women gather in LA for Viscera film festivalThe Guardian

Deepa Mehta: “I simply can’t understand the stereotyping women as film makers who make soppy family dramas. Look at Katherine Bigelow: she has directed Point Break and Strange Days. I hate labels of any kind. Just because you are a woman you can’t do this or that? Twenty years ago women entering the work force was enough of a shock. People just like the predictable; they feel safe with it. You know, it’s such a bore”.
Suparn Verma (1997) Interview with Deepa Metha. Rediff On the Net

Jane Campion: “One of the things we learn in movies directed by men is what the ‘fantasy woman’ is. What we learn in movies directed by women is what real women are about. I don’t think that men see things wrong and women right, just that we do see things differently”.
Virginia Wright Wexman (1999) Jane Campion: Interviews. University Press of Mississippi

Hanna Andersson: “In Sweden, two worlds are completely closed off to women — commercials and crime thrillers. Both are prestigious genres with big budgets. They offer a good wage and give you a chance to try your hand at major projects — you go through a lot of money when you make commercials”.
Torun Börtz (2010) Swedish women behind the camera. Official website of Sweden

Gurinder Chadha: “It is hard directing. The hours are terrible and you have to sort of suspend your life when you’re in production. So, being a mother is very hard. I can absolutely see why there are so few women directing, because it’s physically a very demanding thing to do. Fathers can only do it because they have wives at home doing all the other stuff. I can only do it because I have a husband that helps with the kids at home”.
Matthew Turner (2010) Gurinder Chadha InterviewView

Ann Hui: “When I first started making films 30 years ago, people would comment that I was a woman. But strangely, when I was in television, no one ever mentioned that I was a woman. Maybe it was because television and film were different. There were more women working in television than men. There was no split in terms of work — everyone was considered equal”.
Judy Ngao (2012) Hong Kong director Ann Hui honored for life’s work. Inquirer Entertainment

Lynda Miles (head of Fiction Direction at the National Film and Television School): “In 1972 I organised the first women’s film festival in Europe with two colleagues – Laura Mulvey and the late Claire Johnson. We showed almost every film by a woman director that we could get hold of, going back to silent cinema. What I find peculiar is that the issues haven’t changed very much and the answers don’t seem to get any clearer”.
IdeasTap (2012) Where are all the female filmmakers?

Jane Campion: “There is a different kind of vulnerability when a woman is directing”.
Virginia Wright Wexman (1999) Jane Campion: Interviews. University Press of Mississippi

Dame Helen Mirren, speaking at the Karlovy Vary international film festival: “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”.
Ben Child (2012) Helen Mirren calls for more female film-makers. The Guardian

Jane Campion: “The studio system is kind of an old boys’ system and it’s difficult for them to trust women to be capable”.
Anita Singh (2009) Jane Campion: Female directors need to be tough to make it in ‘sexist’ HollywoodThe Telegraph

Lynne Ramsay: [the gender imbalance in directing is] “a bit like a country not being filmed – and that country not having a voice. It really does matter”.
Charlotte Higgins (2012) Palme pioneers: women directors at CannesThe Guardian

Frances Lea, regarding the reception of films written by and about women: [there is] “a tendency for the male perspective to dominate responses [to films], whether that’s commissions or how [a film is] presented in the world. The market is used to a male voice and a male audience, which it feeds”.
Rachel Cranshaw (2012) Frances Lea: a film-maker who puts women centre-stageThe Guardian

Jane Campion: “It’s harder being a woman director because on the whole women don’t have husbands or boyfriends who are willing to be wives”.
Virginia Wright Wexman (1999) Jane Campion: Interviews. University Press of Mississippi

Susanne Bier: “I think it is kind of depressing how few female filmmakers there are. I think it is in general depressing how few women there are in … important positions in society”.
Laurie Curtis (2011) An interview with Oscar nominee Susanne Bier; she talks Oscar. Tonight at the Movies

Deepa Mehta: “To make a film is very difficult — it doesn’t make a difference whether you are a man or a woman”.
Suparn Verma (1997) Interview with Deepa Metha. Rediff On the Net

Ava DuVernay: “It is insulting …. There’s not one interview that I’ve done for Middle of Nowhere through the whole Sundance experience where someone didn’t ask me if this was my story …. Or how do I know about this? It couldn’t have come out of my imagination. There’s always an automatic assumption that this is a film about a black woman whose husband is incarcerated and I’m a black woman, so … ‘Is your husband incarcerated?’”
Nicole Sperling (2012) Round table: Julie Delpy, Ava DuVernay and Leslye Headland on directingLA Times

Andrea Arnold: “I always notice how few [films by women] there are at film festivals. I went to Créteil International Women’s Film Festival in France with Wasp in 2004, stayed on for a few days and watched all these films by women. I spent the whole time crying because there were so many films that had so much resonance for me, being female. It actually made me realise how male-dominated the film industry is in terms of perspective. If you think about a film being a very popular and expressive way of showing a mirror on life, we’re getting a mainly male perspective. It’s a shame. I saw a lot of fantastic films at Créteil that I never heard about again”.
Amy Raphael (2009) Real life in the Fish TankThe Guardian

Frances Lea: “Women tell different stories, and there need to be more stories told from the female perspective”.
Rachel Cranshaw (2012) Frances Lea: a film-maker who puts women centre-stageThe Guardian

Dame Helen Mirren, speaking at the Karlovy Vary international film festival:”When I was making films [early in my career] 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”. Ben Child (2012) Helen Mirren calls for more female film-makers. The Guardian

Julie Delpy: “It’s terrifying. Women make their first film, their second film, and then it’s like a nightmare, right, to make the third or fourth? I mean, it’s almost like men can have three films in a row that don’t do that well and keep on going.”
Nicole Sperling (2012) Round table: Julie Delpy, Ava DuVernay and Leslye Headland on directingLA Times

Gurinder Chadha: “Well, I think there was a time when I first started that there was such a thing called ‘a woman’s film’ and there were certain scripts that women would make. But I think that’s changed a lot now. I think that if a woman director walks into a room with a script, it doesn’t really matter what the subject matter is, or the genre is, so long as the financiers feel that the woman has the skills to make the film”.
Matthew Turner (2010) Gurinder Chadha InterviewView

Jane Campion: “I would love to see more women directors because they represent half of the population – and gave birth to the whole world. Without them writing and being directors, the rest of us are not going to know the whole story”.
Anita Singh (2009) Jane Campion: Female directors need to be tough to make it in ‘sexist’ HollywoodThe Telegraph

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