Because I’m a book person who loves film (even though I’m generally disappointed in the movie version of any book I have loved), I turned with great excitement to “Cannes film festival set to honor the bookworm” in the Guardian. As I read though, my heart fell a little, and not just at the suggestion that literary adaptation is “a lesser form of cinema.” Where are the women authors? More than a dozen books adapted for film are listed in the article, but not a single one written by a woman.
I soothed myself for a moment thinking of films I’ve loved that were based on novels written by women, starting with “To Kill a Mockingbird” (even if the book’s female lead was thrown over for her father) and the entire Jane Austen ouvre.
(PLEASE list your favorites in the comments, so I can add them to my tbw list.)
Then I started wondering why women authors are often ignored in the film-making world. The obvious answer would be commercial viability, but the Twilight series movies by Stephanie Meyer grossed over 2.5 BILLION dollars according to The Numbers, and The Hunger Games grossed $250 million in its first 10 days, the highest ever for a non-sequel film, if Hollywood Reporter is to be believed.
Part of the problem, of course, is that women are dramatically underrepresented among the cadre of those deciding what films ought to be made, and which will be considered for awards. Only 3.6% of directors, 13% of writers, and 21.6% of producers of American films are women. At this years Cannes there is not a single film directed by a woman in competition, for the second time in three years. In the 64 years of the Festival, Jane Campion is the only woman ever awarded the Palme D’Or. For “The Piano.” Almost two decades ago.
So I don’t often do this, but I clicked through and signed a petition created by Women and Hollywood calling for an industry-wide discussion about the underrepresentation of women in film. Signing puts me in the company of Gillian Armstrong, the award-winning director of “Little Women” and “Charlotte Gray” – both based on novels written by women. Of Susanna White, director of the Emmy-nominated “Jane Eyre” BBC miniseries. Delia Ephron. Debra Zimmerman. Gloria Steinem. Care to join us?
And do share in the comments here which woman-written books made into movies you’ve most enjoyed! – Meg