VOD film review: Half the Picture
Ivan Radford | On 08, Mar 2020
Director: Amy Adrion
Cast: Ava DuVernay, Brenda Chapman, Caroline Libresco, Catherine Hardwicke
Watch Half the Picture online in the UK: Vimeo On Demand
What do you do as a female film-maker struggling to make headway in an inherently sexist industry? Make a film about the gender bias in Hollywood. That’s the powerfully simple logic behind Half the Picture, a documentary that shines a light on the ongoing discrimination against women in showbiz. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, some people might somehow think that gender inequality has already been discussed enough, but those people are exactly the ones who need to see this movie.
First-time director Amy Adrion does a fantastic job of securing access to some of the best female directors around, and they all have insightful, informative, entertaining things to say, examining the stereotypes and presumptions that lead to women being dismissed at Hollywood’s top tables – and, most pernicious of all, to some women dismissing themselves. It’s not just a question of a few examples of unfair treatment, but an endemic, widespread problem that shouldn’t be understated until it’s finally resolved: how else can someone explain that there has been just one Oscar-winning female director in the history of The Academy? For those nodding at the familiar statistics, these heartfelt interviews bring home the human stakes of this institutional inequality once and for all, highlighting the insidious double standards that are still in practice, and the ways that the industry tries to convince people that it’s tackling the issue, while also side-stepping it.
From sexual harassment to not including women in shortlists when they have more than enough experience (the barrier to getting that experience is even worse), this rallying call to end this now is a must-see for anyone who cares about cinema, society or the way that stories shape reality for generations to come. Culminating in an inspiring end credits sequence that lists every female director you could think of, this is a rousing tribute to all the heroes out there holding their own behind a camera, from Ava DuVernay to Gina Prince-Bythewood, and helping others to do so too – DuVernay’s active support and encouragement of so many other female film-makers alone is inspiring to hear about.
As each subject wittily drives the point home, Adrion occasionally zooms out to show her own crew, made up entirely of female talent. It’s an effective reminder of the powerfully simple solution to the problem: Hire. More. Female. Directors.
Half the Picture is available to buy and rent on Vimeo On Demand.
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