Actress-filmmaker Jodie Foster believes more can be done to increase the number of female directors on big Hollywood movies — but there isn’t a concerted industry-wide “plot” to keep female auteurs out of the director’s chair.
“I feel like the issue is way more complicated than saying, ‘Why aren’t women making big mainstream franchises?'” Foster said Wednesday during during a Tribeca Film Festival panel, according to Variety.
The lack of female directors on big-budget studio films has been a hot topic of conversation in the industry in recent months. A study released this week by the Wrap found that of the nearly 50 films slated for release through 2018 by two major studios, 20th Century Fox and Paramount, none have female directors attached.
Last fall, the federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) opened an official investigation into the lack of female directors in the industry.
During the panel Wednesday with fellow director Julie Taymor (Across the Universe), Foster said there were “many reasons” why females are underrepresented behind the camera.
“Some of them are about our psychology, some of them are about the financial world, some of them are about the global economy,” Foster said. “There are so many answers that go back hundreds of years. It would be nice to be able to have a more complex conversation and to be able to look at it more than just a quota or numbers.”
“I don’t think there is a big plot to keep women down,” Foster added, noting earlier that she is “a little sick of” the conversation. “It is neglect really, and a lot of people that weren’t thinking about it, and a lot of female executives who have risen to the top, who have not really made a dent of bringing many women into the mainstream world.”
Of course, Foster has had more success than most women when it comes to directing: the 53-year-old Oscar-winner is set to premiere her latest film, Money Monster, at next month’s Cannes Film Festival in France. Sony, the studio behind Money Monster, has had more success bringing on women to direct its projects than other studios; according to the Wrap, the studio is developing three movies for female directors: Charlie’s Angels for Elizabeth Banks, The Craft for Leigh Janiak and Barb and Char for Kristen Wiig.
Foster isn’t the only industry talent who has weighed in on the complexity of the issue of the lack of female directors in Hollywood: Last summer, Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow caused a backlash for saying that “desire” played a role in the lack of women talent behind the camera.
“Many of the top female directors in our industry are not interested in doing a piece of studio business for its own sake,” Trevorrow said then. “These filmmakers have clear voices and stories to tell that don’t necessarily involve superheroes or spaceships or dinosaurs.”
The director later released a statement clarifying his comments, calling the problem “glaring and obvious” and an “important dialogue to have.”
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum