It was October of 2018 when the #MeToo movement began to break into mainstream consciousness. The fall of Harvey Weinstein, the longtime head of Miramax, at the beginning of that month was only the tip of the iceberg. It began a discussion over the gender and race disparities on and off screen. It started a movement that proclaims that representation matters today. Now, director Tom Donahue has sat down some of the biggest names in the entertainment business to talk about it, and you can get a glimpse of this story in the This Changes Everything trailer.
Here are some statistics to help define the scale of the problem. According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, in 2018, out of the top 250 domestic movies, 92% of the directors were male. Furthermore, as of right now, women make up only 15.6% of the Directors Guild of America membership.
Only one woman in the history of movies has won the Oscar for Best Director. Kathryn Bigelow took home the award for The Hurt Locker back in 2009. And only one woman in the history of movies has ever won the Golden Globe for Best Director, and that's Barbra Streisand for Yentl, back in 1984.
The fact movies are by in large made by men, for men is the subject of this startling documentary, which attempts to sit down and wrestle with this reality.
The synopsis reads as follows:
Told first-hand by some of Hollywood’s leading voices behind and in front of the camera, This Changes Everything is a feature-length documentary that uncover what is beneath one of the most confounding dilemmas in the entertainment industry – the under-representation and misrepresentation of women. It takes an incisive look at the history, empirical evidence, and systemic forces that foster gender discrimination and thus reinforce disparity in our culture. Most importantly, the film seeks pathways and solutions from within and outside the industry, and around the world.
The lack of stories told by women, for women is the thrust of this documentary's focus. It accomplishes it by having the women who viewers know best tell their stories. The sheer number of A-list talent participating is almost as overwhelming as the facts the film is trying to get across. The lineup includes (but is by no means limited to) Geena Davis, Natalie Portman, Reese Witherspoon, Shonda Rhimes, Taraji P. Henson, Jessica Chastain, Meryl Streep, and many more.
The director, Tom Donahue, had been working on the film since 2015, before the Weinstein accusations kicked off attention to this issue. In his statement about the film, he said:
In the first year of making the film, we were introduced to the work of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Through Geena and her team, I came to understand the outsized impact the disparity within the small town of Hollywood has on the larger world. When half of a society’s population does not have a voice, the entire culture is degraded. Leaving it awash in a toxic masculinity that rests power in people who are not working in the interest of everyone.
This Changes Everything is currently available for pre-order on iTunes, with a release date of Aug. 16, 2019. Hopefully, it will catch the attention of the awards circuit for the 2020 Oscars.