DESPITE THIS YEAR'S hot young hosts and a pandering Auto-Tune sequence, there was nothing particularly relevant about the Academy Awards. But it still stung to see the only woman to have ever won an Oscar for Best Director—the thoroughly badass Kathryn Bigelow—handing that category's statue over to a crop of directors that were, once again, business as usual. There wasn't a lady among 'em.
Women make up a disproportionately small number of Hollywood directors (a mere nine percent in 2008, according to one study). If anything's going to change, it's essential that filmgoers support, with their money and their attention, the work of female filmmakers.
Oh, hello, Portland Oregon Women's Film Festival.
Director Gillian Armstrong headlines this year's POW Fest. Armstrong will be presenting Love, Lust, and Lies (screening Friday, March 11), the fifth film in what is essentially a dizzyingly condensed version of the Seven Up series, following three Australian girls since 1976. The film features some fascinating footage of rebellious, small-town Aussie teens, but as the women age, a sense of claustrophobia settles in. A more appealing offering is Rolla Selbak's Three Veils (Wednesday, March 9), which captures the intersecting stories of three young Middle Eastern women living in California. It's clumsy at times, sure, as the friends face a predictable checklist of "women's issues." But the film offers plenty of heart and humor, not to mention the relief of seeing a film that acknowledges that non-white women can be protagonists, too.
POW's focus is on movies created by women, regardless of their subject matter—which is how a documentary about tattoo artist Ed Hardy became another of the festival's spotlighted films. Ed Hardy: Tattoo the World (Thursday, March 10) is unapologetically adulatory in its focus on Hardy's influence on the tattooing world—and supplements its talking heads with shots of tattooed bodies that are exquisite no matter what you think of those Ed Hardy dragon shirts.
POW's proximity to the Oscars drives home a simple message: If you want to see more female directors in Hollywood, you have to support their work. Here's your chance.