It’s Oscar Time – Where Are The Women? (February 2005)

The Academy Awards ceremony is upon us, and once again, women’s films are completely absent.

There are no Oscar nominations for a woman-directed film for Best Picture, none for Best Director, or Best Original Screenplay. There is only one woman in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, Julie Delpy, who shares a credit with Richard Linklater and Ethan Hawke for “Before Sunset.” Even the Best Foreign Language Film category doesn’t include any woman-directed films.

Women do much better in the nominations for Best Documentary: “Tupac Resurrection” is directed by Lauren Lazin and Karolyn Ali; “Born Into Brothels” is co-directed by Zana Briski; and “The Story of the Weeping Camel” is co-directed by Byambasuren Davaa. (And Vicky Jenson shares the director’s billing for “Shark Tale,” a nominee for Best Animated Feature Film.)

The Same Old Story

When Sofia Coppola was nominated last year for “Lost in Translation,” she was only the third woman in history to be nominated for Best Director. The other two were Lina Wertmuller for “Seven Beauties” in 1977 and Jane Campion for “The Piano” in 1994 – a total of three nominees in the entire 76-year history of the awards!

No woman of color has ever been nominated and no woman has ever won. After last year’s high-water mark — eleven women directors or writers won nominations for themselves or their stars — this year we’re back to the same old, same old: women are practically invisible.

In 2003, women directed fewer than 10% of the 250 top-grossing Hollywood movies. More than 20% of the films released in 2003 did not employ any women directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, or editors. You can read Martha Lauzen’s study, The Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women in the Top 250 Films of 2003 in the Advocacy section of our website at:

Creating Our Own Success Stories

Sick and tired of women’s lives being all but invisible? We are! So we’re launching this newsletter to introduce you to real women artists creating art that speaks to real women — and real men, too!

Since Hollywood is not telling our stories, we decided to profile three women who make highly personal films on issues such as aging, violence, war, and racism. Sheila Margaret Sofian, Kagendo Murungi, and Ruth Sergel spoke with The Fund for Women Artists about defining success on their own terms, their drive to tell the true stories of our experiences, and finding the right combination of perseverance, encouragement, and cash to keep on making the films we need to see. You can read the interviews at:

Did You Know?

Almost half the films written between 1912 and 1925 were written by women?

Read about the history of women in film in Cari Beauchamp’s essay, The Women Behind the Camera in Early Hollywood,

To find out more about African-American women directors, check out Yvonne Welbon’s documentary, Sisters in Cinema. Buy the video or scan a full history of African-American women directors on Welbon’s excellent site at:

Thanks to the support of the Valentine Foundation, the CDQ Charitable Trust, the Women’s Funding Network, and many generous individuals, each month we will be profiling artists on the WomenArts Network who are telling the stories of our times – stories of our inner selves, our daily lives, and this troubled and inspiring world we all call home.

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About Sarah Browning

Sarah Browning is Director of Split This Rock and DC Poets Against the War, author of Whiskey in the Garden of Eden (The Word Works, 2007), and co-editor of D.C. Poets Against the War: An Anthology (Argonne House Press, 2004). The recipient of an artist fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, she has also received a Creative Communities Initiative grant and the People Before Profits Poetry Prize. Browning has worked as a community organizer in Boston public housing and as a political organizer for reproductive rights, gay rights, and electoral reform, and against poverty, South African apartheid, and U.S. militarism. She was founding director of Amherst Writers & Artists Institute — creative writing workshops for low-income women and youth — and Assistant Director of The Fund for Women Artists, an organization supporting socially engaged art by women. She has written essays and interviewed poets and artists for a variety of publications.