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Jodie Foster: Women Executives Partly to Blame for Lack of Female Directors

Jodie Foster

The lack of women helming big-budget movies is due to Hollywood’s long-term “neglect,” and female executives have been part of the problem, says the out filmmaker.


Jodie Foster says sexism in Hollywood isn't as "cut-and-dried" as some in media would suggest.

The out actress and filmmaker, who directed the upcoming drama Money Monster, starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts, said the issue of gender disparity in those helming Hollywood's blockbusters requires "a more complex conversation" than statistics.

"Having been making movies for 50 years, I feel like these issues are way more complicated than the dialogue," Foster said at a Q&A with filmmaker Julie Taymor held Wednesday in the Tribeca Film Festival. "Saying why aren't ... there women directors in big mainstream franchises is just such an incredibly simple question."

"There's so many reasons," she continued. "And some of them are about our psychology. Some of them are about the financial world. Some of them are about the global economy. Some of them are about any number of things. But there are so many answers to that question that go back hundreds of years. It would be nice to have a more complex conversation and to be able to look at it more than just a quota or numbers."

According to a recent study from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, women filmmakers made only 19 percent of those directing Hollywood's top 250 domestic-grossing movies in 2015. The statistic has been part of a larger debate of how to dismantle the systemic sexism in the entertainment industry. Many women in the entertainment industry spoke out about this bias in a 2015 article by Maureen Dowd in The New York Times.

Foster rebuked the theory that there is a "big plot to keep women down somehow." Rather than an intentional act, she sees the problem as rooted in an issue of "neglect." And she said women are also a part of this problem.

"It's neglect, really. It's a bunch of people who weren't thinking about it, including a lot of female executives that have risen to the top and not really made a dent in bringing many women into the mainstream world."

Foster also called Jonathan Demme, who directed her in The Silence of The Lambs, "my favorite female director," suggesting that men who are attentive to female portrayals in film can help be a part of positive change. The Oscar-winning film about a cannibal and an FBI trainee is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

"I think he was the one guy who really understood Silence of the Lambs and was able to say this a movie about a woman who is our hero," she said. "The film is informed by that, it's why the film is not filled with gratuitous violence, it's why, yes, it is horrifying, and difficult to watch in some ways, but mostly because he comes at it from a difference perspective. He's on the ... brave heart of that woman's voice."

Watch her response below.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.