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Friday, 5 July, 2002, 12:46 GMT 13:46 UK
Female film-makers 'face struggle'
Jane Campion with Kate Winslet
Jane Campion (left): One of only two Oscar-nominated female directors
Women still face a "tough struggle" to gain acceptance in the film industry after a recent survey revealed that only 6% of successful films in 2001 had female directors.

The business is still a male-dominated club that views women as incapable of directing anything other than "chick-flicks" or getting to grips with technical skills, a UK-based group has said.

A Hollywood survey recently found that the number of women directors whose films featured in the list of the 250 biggest films of 2001 was down from 11% in 2000 to 6% in 2001.

Film director Gurinder Chadha
Gurinder Chadha had a hit with Bend It Like Beckham
And the situation could be even worse in the UK, according to Jane Cussons, chief executive of Women in Film and Television.

The results of the survey were "terribly depressing", she said, and more work had to be done to ensure women had an equal shot in the industry.

The findings also revealed that the number of female writers declined from 14% in 2000 to 10% in 2001, and that men worked as cinematographers on all of the films in the survey.

The Oscars - which addressed one historical injustice by recognising black actors with awards at this year's ceremony - have still only ever nominated two women for best director, neither of whom won.

"Something has to be done, and the bosses really have to look at this and say, this isn't good enough, it acceptable any more," Ms Cussons said.


People still find it a little difficult to accept women as being the boss

Jane Cussons
Women in Film and Television
"The studios pigeonhole women directors and think 'she can only direct a chick-flick about lots of women trying to make a quilt.'"

Although the situation has improved over the last decade, there is still a long way to go, she said.

The UK's current crop of female directors is headed by Scot Lynne Ramsay, whose Morvern Callar was selected for the Director's Fortnight at this year's Cannes festival, and Gurinder Chadha, whose Bend It Like Beckham was a box office hit.

"Gurinder is absolutely fantastic and she's a real champion of the cause because she's gone ahead and done the projects she wants to do and she's managed to retain her integrity in her work," Ms Cussons said.

But new directors starting out, like Jan Dunn, who wrote of her experiences for BBC News Online's Big Break Diary and is about to make her first feature film, find it tough to win approval, she added.

Campaign

"I don't think it's because women are discriminated against deliberately, but it's always been assumed that when you get out there on the set, the director's the boss," Ms Cussons said.

"And people still find it a little difficult to accept women as being the boss."

The two women to be nominated for best director at the Oscars were Jane Campion for The Piano in 1994 and Italian Lina Wertmuller for Pasqualino Settebellezze in 1976.

Women in Film and Television are campaigning for positive discrimination in giving budding female film-makers help in getting into the industry.

See also:

17 May 02 | Entertainment
11 Apr 02 | Entertainment
26 Feb 02 | Entertainment
29 Jan 00 | Tom Brook
18 Nov 99 | Scotland
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