Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

London — The director of a film that showcases the personal struggles of successful female directors in male-dominated Hollywood says she hopes to inspire more women to take up filmmaking, at a time of intense concern over gender inequality in the industry.

In Half the Picture, which had its European premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in London on Friday, female directors talk about their experiences of being sidelined in favour of less talented men.

"The road was difficult for all the women in the film, but all of those women did it. They made incredible films, so, if they can overcome those challenges then we can do it too," director Amy Adrion said.

"You see what a loss it is for all of us that they had such a difficult road and that they haven’t had those opportunities to make their second or third film or make bigger budget films that actually show in cinemas around the world," she said.

Adrion said her film made "the emotional argument" for a more inclusive industry, putting faces on the figures that detail the dearth of women in Hollywood.

It features among others Ava DuVernay, director of Selma, Mary Harron of American Psycho, Catherine Hardwicke of Twilight and Penelope Spheeris of Wayne’s World.

Most of the films showcased at the British offshoot of the US festival are directed by women, in a selection that seeks to champion female voices.

Women directed only 11% of the top 250 grossing films in the US in 2017 — up only 2% from 1998, according to the California-based Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.

"Discrimination in any field is terrible but particularly in media where you are literally creating our collective culture … because it affects what we think of ourselves and the people around us," Adrion said.

"I hope people in Hollywood who are in a position to actually effect change in the industry see [the movie]."

The documentary comes at a time of deep disquiet in the sector, which was rocked in 2017 by allegations of sexual misconduct against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, in a scandal that has implicated other leading industry figures.

On Wednesday, Weinstein was indicted on charges of rape and a criminal sexual act in New York, in the first case to emerge from a slew of sexual misconduct allegations against him.

Weinstein has denied ever having nonconsensual sex. His legal team said he would plead not guilty.

"There is a growing appetite for, and recognition of, women both behind and in front of the camera. But we still have a very long way to go before we achieve equality," said Sam Smethers, head of the Fawcett Society, a women’s rights group.

Thomson Reuters Foundation