Groundbreaking directors vie for Oscar

  • By Rachel Abramowitz Los Angeles Times
  • Thursday, February 4, 2010 3:20pm
  • Life

LOS ANGELES — Kathryn Bigelow sounds a wee bit tired of questions about being a “female director,” but given that on Tuesday, she became only the fourth woman to be nominated for best director by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, she knows it comes with the territory.

“I long personally for the day when the modifier is a moot point,” said a very happy Bigelow, whose film nabbed nine nominations, including one for best picture.

“I anticipate that day will come, but if ‘The Hurt Locker’ can make the impossible seem possible to somebody, it’s pretty overwhelming and gratifying. At least we’re heading in the right direction.”

“The Hurt Locker,” Bigelow’s stunningly visceral examination of life in a bomb-disposal squad in Iraq, is the culmination of more than 25 years in the business, and an aesthetic that defies conventional notions of gender where women directors are often relegated to romantic comedies.

Her films include the vampire flick “Near Dark” and the surf thriller “Point Break,” as well as the romantic historical mystery “The Weight of Water” and the 2002 nuclear sub thriller “K-19:The Widowmaker.”

After “K-19,” which cost $100 million and grossed only $66 million worldwide, Bigelow did not release another film for seven years.

Five of those years were spent developing and shooting “The Hurt Locker,” which was financed entirely by selling foreign distribution rights. As the film has no stars, the big selling point was Bigelow.

“Her movies have done very well overseas, and they’re loved,” said “The Hurt Locker” producer Greg Shapiro.

Bigelow is not the only groundbreaker in the director’s category. “Precious” director Lee Daniels is only the second African-American (after John Singleton) to be nominated.

“I am the first African-American to be nominated for a movie that was produced by an African-American.” Daniels was referring to himself in both capacities. The other producers are its financiers, Gary Magness and Sarah Siegel-Magness.

“I think it’s a great thing for my kids to see and for other filmmakers, not just black filmmakers. What it does say is your dreams can come true,” he added.

Like Bigelow, Daniels prefers not to focus on race or gender. “I don’t look at it like a color thing,” he says about his march into the history books. “It took someone crazy like me to make a movie about a 400-pound black girl.”

Bigelow has swept a raft of critics awards and last weekend became the first woman to win the Director’s Guild of America’s top award, making her the leading contender for the Oscar.

Her main competition appears to be her ex-husband, James Cameron, who helmed “Avatar.” The two were married from 1989 to 1991 and remain friends.

Still, Bigelow’s breakthrough does not reflect a growing trend. In terms of both box office and public awareness, 2009 might seem a particularly fruitful year for women directors, who were behind the camera for such box office hits as “The Proposal,” “Julie &Julia” and “It’s Complicated,” as well as another best picture nominee, “An Education.”

Yet according to Martha Lauzen, executive director for the Center for the Study of Women in Film and Television at San Diego State University, the percentage of women directors has been virtually unchanged since 1987, at 7 percent to 9 percent. “That would mean, we’re running in place,” she said.

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Talk to us

More in Life

Everett comedian Taylor Clark performs stand-up in 2023 at The Triple Door in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Mike Bryk)
Comedian Taylor Clark to film first special Friday in Everett

The skateboarding funny-man will record an hour of his stand-up at the Historic Everett Theater.

Local musician Alex Johnston, whose newest album "Daylight Fooldream" pairs with short film he made with help from his partner Mikaela Henderson, sits with his morning coffee on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, at Narrative Coffee in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Folktronica musician shoots 37-minute visual album on iPhone in Everett

Alex Johnston, 31, describes his music as ”if Coldplay and Bon Iver had a love child.”

Flowering knotweed Persicaria amplexicaulis firetail in the morning light.
Save for one infamous variety, fleece flowers are easy to fall in love with

This long-blooming, easy-to-grow perennial comes in many desirable varieties. But watch out: One is an invasive knotweed.

A view of King Street Station in Seattle, Washington from an Amtrak Cascades train to Portland, Oregon from Everett, Washington on Wednesday, May 24, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Ride the rails on Amtrak Cascades from Everett to Portland

Make new friends and let Amtrak do the driving on this 5-hour trip past sea, city and forest.

From left, Elora Coble, Carol Richmond, David Hayes, Karli Reinbold, Giovanna Cossalter Walters, Landon Whitbread in a scene from Edmonds Driftwood Players' production of "Murder on the Orient Express." (Dale Sutton / Magic Photography)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Edmonds Driftwood Players opens its 65th season with Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express.”

Some collectibles are found in nature; some imitate them. If it weren’t for the attached figure, this Royal Dux porcelain vase might pass for a real conch shell.
This shell-shaped vase would make a fine souvenir of summer fun

It may not be a real shell, but this art nouveau piece could still evoke fond memories of days at the beach.

Arlington Garden Club celebrating its 90th anniversary

The club has monthly programs for north Snohomish County gardeners and awards scholarships to area students.

Spouses Franchesca and Don Simpson talk about their baby girl’s “chubby cheeks” and “button nose” as Kelly Fox RDMS RVT performs a live-view 3D ultrasound on the expecting mother Saturday, August 26, 2023, at Wonder Baby Ultrasound Studio in Everett, Washington. The Simpsons are expecting their first child in October. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Glamour shots in utero? Everett studio offers HD ultrasound keepsakes

For curious parents, these glimpses are exciting, but not medically endorsed.

An Oxford White grille with red “BRONCO” lettering signifies the 2023 Ford Bronco Sport Heritage Limited Edition model. (Ford)
2023 Ford Bronco Sport has two new Heritage Edition models

Design and paint treatments pay homage to the original Bronco introduced in 1966.

Most Read