Natalie Portman wore this Prada Dior ensemble to the Oscars. I loooooved it the night of the Oscars, and on Monday, I called it “badass” and “righteous.” Why was in love with a kind of basic black and gold gown with a black cape? It’s because Portman had Prada embroider the names of all of the snubbed female directors (in gold) on the edge of the cape. She then used her red carpet interviews to point out the names and to make a point about how “Best Director” is still a huge f–king boys club. This was not the first time she’s made this point – she famously did the “here are the all-male nominees” when presenting at the Golden Globes last year too. It’s become one of her issues, the fact that women directors are doing the thing and they aren’t being recognized for it.
Clearly, I had no problem with what Portman has said and done on this issue. She’s not my favorite person in the world and I have criticized her in the past for many things (she still didn’t deserve that Oscar and her campaign was made of lies, I said what I said), but on this, I love what she’s doing. I saw the comments on Twitter and here on this site that she had no place bringing up the lack of recognition for female directors because… something something, she has not worked with enough female directors in her career. Natalie is herself a female director and a producer, so what is the threshold for that again? And why would we hold Natalie to a different standard than 99.99% of all other actors who have worked with mostly male directors throughout their career? When we say that directing is a boys club, it’s no f–king joke. It’s crazy hard for women to get directing gigs and it’s harder still for women to pull together financing for a project they want to shepherd and direct themselves.
So, there were feelings about and against Natalie’s excellent cape stunt. Rose McGowan decided to… like, write a long-ass screed against Natalie because I guess in Rose’s mind, Natalie was sitting there, calling herself a hero for wearing the cape. I’m not even going to excerpt what Rose said, it’s so asinine and no one appointed her the feminist gatekeeper to jacksh-t. Natalie heard about it though, and she issued a statement in response to Rose:
“I agree with Ms. McGowan that it is inaccurate to call me ‘brave’ for wearing a garment with women’s names on it. Brave is a term I more strongly associate with actions like those of the women who have been testifying against Harvey Weinstein the last few weeks, under incredible pressure.”
“The past few years have seen a blossoming of directing opportunities for women due to the collective efforts of many people who have been calling out the system,” Portman said. “The gift has been these incredible films. I hope that what was intended as a simple nod to them does not distract from their great achievements. It is true I’ve only made a few films with women. In my long career, I’ve only gotten the chance to work with female directors a few times – I’ve made shorts, commercials, music videos and features with Marya Cohen, Mira Nair, Rebecca Zlotowski, Anna Rose Holmer, Sofia Coppola, Shirin Neshat and myself. Unfortunately, the unmade films I have tried to make are a ghost history.”
Portman went on to cite studies from Stacy Smith of USC, who has chronicled the lack of studio movies made by women, to claim that films from female filmmakers have a harder time getting greenlit or financed.
“If these films do get made, women face enormous challenges during the making of them. I have had the experience a few times of helping get female directors hired on projects which they were then forced out of because of the conditions they faced at work,” Portman said. “After they are made, female-directed films face difficulty getting into festivals, getting distribution and getting accolades because of the gatekeepers at every level. So I want to say, I have tried, and I will keep trying. While I have not yet been successful, I am hopeful that we are stepping into a new day.”
Reader, I gasped! I gasped at the Harvey Weinstein line. Natalie Portman cuts like a knife. As for the rest of what she says… I’m glad that she points out that when she’s been given any kind of power – like a say in hiring someone for her Dior commercials – she asks for women directors. And she’s chosen to work with women in shorts and music videos, and yes, she’s tried to get more women hired for other projects but it hasn’t come together. Again, what Natalie did was badass and I hope she’s not deterred from pulling her wonderful little stunt-protests by the jeers from Rose McGowan and random peeps.
Photos courtesy of WENN.