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September 12th, 2015 / No Comments

Carol, Laurel, Jules, Therese, Maud. These are just a few of the lead characters in a fall season that is by all accounts a big one for female-driven movies.

“Freeheld,” based on a documentary, stars Julianne Moore as the terminally ill New Jersey police detective Laurel Hester, who becomes an advocate for gay rights when government officials prevent her from assigning her pension benefits to her domestic partner (played by Ellen Page). Based on a Patricia Highsmith novel, “Carol” is a 1950s melodrama with Cate Blanchett as the married title character and Rooney Mara as her lover, Therese, that has already won accolades at Cannes. “Suffragette” tells the little-known story of the militant women’s emancipation movement in England, directed and written by women, with Carey Mulligan as Maud, a foot soldier in the fight. “The Intern,” directed by Nancy Meyers, follows Jules (Anne Hathaway), an Internet entrepreneur struggling to manage her company’s success with the help of an intern (Robert De Niro) who’s a senior citizen.

And there are more — “Brooklyn,” “Truth” and “Sisters,” to name a few. All are garnering attention, some are even the subject of Oscar talk, and yet their very existence is still a rarity in Hollywood.

From 2007 through 2014, women made up only 30.2 percent of all speaking or named characters in the 100 top-grossing fictional films distributed in the United States, according to a report released in August by the University of Southern California. Only 19.9 percent of female characters were 40 to 64 years old. Only 1.9 percent of the movies were directed by women. And the numbers for minority women are even worse.

The movie industry is “failing women,” Manohla Dargis of The Times has said.

Is this fall’s crop an exception or a possible sign of a shift afoot? Certainly there are no major films built around women of color on the horizon. So we asked actresses, writers and directors (including a few men) from forthcoming films about what’s changed, what needs to change and how. They didn’t always agree, and the subject won’t be settled anytime soon.

Here are excerpts from those conversations:

Are women in Hollywood unfairly denied opportunities to act, direct, write and produce?

CATE BLANCHETT I do think there’s a sense in the industry, and in most industries, that a woman can’t screw up. Look at the number of second-time male directors: If for some reason their film doesn’t do well, in eight to 12 months they’re back in there again, someone backs them. It’s always on the marketing schedule that a woman has directed the film, which on one hand you want to celebrate, but on the other does put a remarkable amount of pressure on, is it going to work? So the numbers people go into it with their arms slightly crossed, and I think that has an impact on the courage of a woman’s creative expression.

Do you think the status for women in Hollywood is changing?

BLANCHETT Women who have been in the industry a long time are now producing themselves, like Angelina Jolie. She’s not waiting for roles to come to her. She’s proactively creating her own work. I think women get to a point where they can actually embrace the power, and that’s one of the biggest changes.

Talk about the economics of putting women front and center in films.

BLANCHETT The films with women at their center are generally lower-budget, because there is lazy thinking. But if you look at those films, they’re passion projects. People lose confidence, because the traditional marketing numbers don’t add up to the progressive nature of the films.

In what other ways can Hollywood change?

BLANCHETT When the director says you really need to be topless in this scene, I go, “Do I?” You have to fight back and claim the right to develop the character. Women need to empower themselves and claim even a character that’s written in a clichéd way. You don’t have to play it that way. [Source]

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December 07, 2017: IWC Filmmaker Award (Dubai International Film Festival)

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Current Projects


Song to Song (2017)
Cate as Amanda
Two intersecting love triangles. Obsession and betrayal set against the music scene in Austin, Texas.
Genre: Drama
More Info | Photos | IMDb


Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Cate as Hela
Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
More Info | Photos | IMDb

Ocean's Eight (2018)
Cate as Lou
No plot yet.
Genre: Crime
More Info | Photos | IMDb

Jungle Book: Origins (2018)
Cate as Kaa
An orphaned boy is raised in the wild.
Genre: Drama
More Info | Photos | IMDb


Where'd You Go, Bernadette (2018)
Cate as Bernadette Fox
After her anxiety-ridden mother disappears, 15-year-old Bee does everything she can to track her down, discovering her troubled past in the process.
Genre: Comedy, Drama
More Info | Photos | IMDb


The House with a Clock in its Walls (2018)
Cate as Unknown
A young orphan named Lewis Barnavelt aids his magical uncle in locating a clock with the power to bring about the end of the world.
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Mystery
More Info | Photos | IMDb
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