Rachel Morrison made history Tuesday morning when she became the first women nominated for the Oscar for Best Cinematography, and we’re not sure whether to celebrate or despair.
So, let’s start with despair. Or perhaps indignation.
WHAT!? How is this only happening now? Not a single nomination — never mind an award — for a lady cinematographer in 90 years of handing out little golden statues? This is truly a sad state of affairs and one we’re embarrassed to only be learning about now.
But though we haven’t been talking about it, for years, people in the industry have been decrying the lack of recognition for women behind the camera. Back in 2014, IndieWire published a list of “Eight Female Cinematographers You Should Know About,” pointing out that of the 250 top-grossing films that year, only 3 percent had employed female cinematographers. They also published a first-person take on the industry by cinematographer Elle Schneider, who delved into some of the reasons behind the intense gender disparity in the field.
A piece published late last year on INews spells out to why this disparity is such a problem:
“The issue reveals how the very way we visually represent our world is constructed by the way men see the world,” writes author Amrou Al-Kadhi. “There’s an ingrained inequality to how images of women are framed by men behind the camera.”
In other words, if we want to see movies that represent the way we see the world, with women as the protagonists in their own stories, we need more women behind the camera telling those stories.
Ok, end of despairing rant.
Time to celebrate!
The good news is that Rachel Morrison has finally cracked the Oscar seal, thanks to her amazing work on Mudbound, a Netflix film about two men – one black, one white – returning to the Mississippi Delta after WWII. The riveting flick is still playing for anyone interested in streaming Morrison’s work. She was also the lady behind the camera for Marvel’s upcoming Black Panther, which, judging by the hype, should earn her plenty more attention.
And Morrison isn’t the only one whose work deserves to be celebrated. Though men vastly outnumber women in the field, there are still plenty of women cinematographers making incredible work.
For those of you who devoured the recent adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, know that Reed Morano was the female cinematographer responsible for the beautifully filmed first three episodes. Dutch camera master Charlotte Bruus Christensen shot last year’s Oscar contender Fences; actor and director Denzel Washington hired her after admiring Christensen’s work on The Hunt and Far From the Maddening Crowd. In fact, it’s pretty much guaranteed that many of your favorite films were shot by a woman. Let’s hope that today’s announcement is the beginning of a new trend: the public recognition of the women breaking industry stereotypes to make incredible work from behind the camera.
What’s your take on this news? Tell us @britandco!
(Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty)