Cinema has never rated very high on the gender equality scale, but there are signs that the industry is slowly opening up to more women directors, producers, and even moguls. Things are far from being where they could be in terms of opportunities for minorities, and even foreign filmmakers, but some recent developments have hinted at the possibility that we are pushing in the right direction.
Filmmakers like Jane Campion and Steve McQueen and many others have helped birth a new approach to “minority” cinema, which is basically to make films that clearly reflect their sense of style and contain their imprint, but that are not direct works of protest; Campion films do not outright lament the fate of women in society the same way as McQueen does not feel compelled to follow the Spike Lee aesthetic simply because he’s black. What we are in effect witnessing as an audience is the emergence of a so-called equalizing cinema, the kind that doesn’t wear its politics for all to see, the kind that is content with sticking to a good story and letting the details communicate the filmmaker’s outlook.
This is a powerful step toward equality in all Arts; there is certainly a time to transmit messages loud and clear (ei Gay Pride in the 60’s-80’s), but there comes a time where shouting is not only unnecessary, but possibly counter-productive. Perhaps the best way for a female artist to become an artistic force is to speak with the same authority as as a man, but to bring her female perspective in a way that does not engage the battle of the sexes or espouse feminist militancy. There must be a female perspective that does not live entirely in the reaction against oppression, a voice that has many things in common with a male one but that cannot come from a male perspective. These are frontiers truly worth pursuing because they lead to a place where storytelling becomes the focus of the art, not just social agendas.
There is of course a place, even a necessity to engage social issues and critiques in cinema, and many fantastic films have shown that this is possible. The point, as always is to apply these elements in controlled measure so as to not override the ultimate goal; to captivate an audience and tell them a compelling story.