Representation matters. But unsurprisingly, it’s still lacking in nearly all fields. Especially in Hollywood. Casts, directors and producers are overwhelmingly white and male. So much so that in 2015 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigated claims of systematic discrimination against female directors.
While there continues to be a lack of representation regarding race, religion, body type, sexual orientation, disabilities, you name it, the type of representation usually at the forefront of national discussions is the lack of women. Caryn Coleman, Nitehawk Cinema’s director of programming and special projects, created a film series to address the issue and motivate cinephiles to support female directors.
Despite her problematic storytelling methods, this year Sofia Coppola became only the second woman to win Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival. This summer we also saw the huge success of Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman, the mounting excitement for Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time and the incredible power women have at the box office.
“These films need to have funding to get made. They need to have the support,” Coleman said, noting that her job was to “show these films and get the audience to come see them. Everybody plays this part.”
Next month the Williamsburg dine-in theater will screen Women Who Kill, The Last Laugh and Signature Move, all directed by women, as part of an ongoing effort to showcase more diverse voices and have the audience engage with topics that have become all the more politically and socially relevant after the election.
“With this series I sort of struggled a little bit because I didn’t want the novelty to be that they are women filmmakers, but it’s an elephant in the room,” Coleman said. While the films are all directed by white women, she describes them as diverse and representative of people from different backgrounds. “Women Who Kill and Signature Move are both narrative features and they both deal with lesbian relationships,” she said. “And Signature Move in particular deals with a Muslim lawyer lesbian who falls in love with a woman whose mom is a luchadora.” .”
And The Last Laugh is a documentary featuring Mel Brooks and Sarah Silverman that discusses what constitutes comedy by discussing jokes relating to Nazis and the Holocaust.
Coleman wants to continue to diversify Nitehawk’s programming and is already working on a program of horror films by female directors, which will come out in October.
“We’re going to continue to adapt and figure out what audiences are craving because it has changed over the year,” she said. “There’s this idea that people want escapism, which is true, but what kind of escapism is that? People want socially engaged documentaries, they want to see diversity in films, then they also want to laugh and watch a silly film. So it’s a balance we’re still trying to find.”
Correction: After publication, Caryn Coleman sent us a revised quote about Signature Move in order to correct a misstatement about the plot.