If news hadn’t hit you yet, more female filmmakers are breaking ground thanks to the efforts of companies like Refinery29, with films like Mr. Malcom’s List. Why is this important you ask?
A 2017 study reported that only 18% of women were working behind-the-scenes film jobs, 8% of them being in the top 100 Hollywood films. Since then, not much progress has been made on increasing those numbers. Many of us may feel unthreatened by this issue. However, such an imbalance of gender representation in an industry that produces and controls the content we see everyday, speaks to what we are lacking in potential. Potential to expand our social construction of media into a universe of creative possibilities and equal representation for both race and gender, in front of and behind the movie camera.
That’s the beauty of movies like Black Panther, Wonder Woman and Crazy Rich Asians. Hollywood films that are focused on appealing to underserved audiences that step outside of the normal stereotypes. Black Panther with it’s fantastical world Wakanda, where technology and action drives it’s African people. Wonder Woman, a woman-empowering-woman film, that inspires girls and women to stay true to their feminine qualities, proving that being a woman can be your strength. Lastly, Crazy Rich Asians, an addictive Hollywood Drama with an entirely Asian cast.
Yet, it’s not enough. There is still, so much more work to be done.
Thanks to Refinery29’s Shatterbox Films, more female filmmakers now have a chance to get their work front and center. What started out as barely a tangible dream to feature female creators, has now become a series of a dozen short films all made by female directors.
Shatterbox Films debuted in 2016 after finalizing a partnership with the Sundance Institute. Both parties seemed to have a similar motivation to encourage gender equality in the film industry by supporting the females that are making the films.
Although Sundance Institute has its own program for female filmmakers, nothing seems to stand out quite as much as Shatterbox Films, with it’s large platform and passionate approach.
Mr. Malcom’s List
Mr. Malcom’s List, directed by Emma Holly Jones, starring Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians) and Freida Pinto (Immortals) is a story that resonates the Jane Austen vibes but with an entirely new twist. The entire main cast are female and/or non-white.
Mr. Malcom’s List was written by Suzanne Allain, both in script and novel form. It follows the life of rich and elusive Mr. Malcom, as he navigates the desperate mothers of England who vow to have him marry their daughters. But little do they know that Mr. Malcom has a list of expectations for his future wife. Mr. Malcom is played by a POC actor, Sope Dirisu, accompanied by several Asian and Indian actors and actresses.
From a historical standpoint, Mr. Malcom’s List arguably doesn’t carry the most accurate representation of early 19th century England. However, this is one of the most interesting tellings of an Austen-type romance that we’ve ever seen, and not quite as far fetched from history as we believe it to be.
In a book titled Black Tutors by Miranda Kaufmann, we get a look into the world of early England times that doesn’t seem to follow what we’ve learned in our history classes. Turns out, there were several signs of Africans living in England in the 1500s and on, that weren’t necessarily all servants but villagers and the like, even in some cases aristocrats of a higher class.
To believe that we may have white washed our history a bit, may not come as a surprise to people. What’s interesting though is that it’s taken filmmakers this long to create a period piece with representation of POC and non-white individuals.
Still, this is the future of filmmaking as we know it. Shatterbox Films is continuing their work to encourage female filmmakers and new stories to be told, that could change the face of the film industry.