The List of Auteurs Needs Updating
Here’s a challenge for you, 4381. Using whatever your preferred web browser is, search for a list of auteurs. I’m sure that we all see some of our favorite directors and filmmakers on the list. There are great contributors to the history of film. A plethora of styles and perspectives and notable backgrounds and recognizable color schemes throughout their respective works. And if you look closer, you’ll see that they’re all men. Mostly white men, nonetheless.
In the simplest way to say it, this is frustrating. In my younger years I would have been upset because it leaves no one for young girls to look up to and see themselves in, but as an adult, I now recognize the problems with lack of opportunity. Not to sound like Jo March in The Little Women, but women have always had stories to tell, whether they be about themselves or not. Are we not creative? Immaginative? Innovative? Consistent or focused enough to create our own visual styles and carry them throughout a career? Or are the opportunities to expand and share our artistic selves not validated or given to us?
The irritating side of all of this is that any effort for bringing equal opportunity across history has been spun to be political. It has always rattled me to the core that something as simple as a level playing field is an issue to people. As if a threat, forces with resources fight against even considering giving well-deserving individuals the recognition for their work. And while I don’t pretend to know every interworking of the film and television industries, in a world with a more female population than male and a country that is around forty-percent non-white, there must be some gatekeeping in this creative industry for that not to be evident at every film festival and award show. Even shedding light on the lack of opportunities for women in film is treated as political, when in reality, those that gatekeep and make excuses as to why progress for representation behind the camera can’t happen are only putting their insecurities in mediocrity on display. And here I was thinking that we all like a good challenge.
In the past couple of years, I’ve been more intent on consuming media that is made by filmmakers that identify themselves as members of marginalized and minoritized communities. They do exist, they are making beautiful work, but not getting nearly as much recognition to become household names as the way the names on the list of auteurs have. Here are some of my favorites female filmmakers, and their work, that you may or may not have heard of.
- Lovecraft Country – creator and showrunner
- Underground -creator
- Lemon (short) -writer and director
- “Juneteenth” episode of Atlanta – director
- “Houston” episode of Mrs. America – director
- Dead Pigs – writer and director
- Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn – writer and director (I highly suggest that anyone read any of Yan’s interviews about how this movie addresses the male gaze)
- La petit mort (short) -writer and director
- Jezebel -writer, director, and producer
- “Among the Untrodden” episode of The Twilight Zone – director
- Selah and the Spades – writer, director, and producer
CHERYL DUNYE (One of my favorites as she is outspoken and direct with depicting the intersections of queerness in the black community)
- The Watermelon Woman – writer and director
- “Strange Case” episode of Lovecraft Country – director
- “Volume 3: Chapter V” of Dear White People – director
- Directed several episodes of Queen Sugar, All Rise, and David Makes Man
Obviously, none of us are perfect. Even my far-from-exhaustive list could use more intersectional diversity, but we all have to start somewhere. These are the first names that came to mind as they are heads of the most recent projects that I’ve loved, and honestly, I should be working on a script myself at the moment, so it may be shorter than if this was a typical three in the morning post for me. There are plenty of production companies, showrunners, producers and directors who are doing their part to usher in a new wave of letting diverse storytellers get opportunities and step into the recognition that they deserve.
If you have favorite non-cisgender, LGBTQIA, female, or racially and ethnically diverse filmmakers that aren’t on here, let me know who they are! And Happy International Women’s Day!