Features and Columns · Movies

How Women Took Up Space in the Movies of 2020

Watch a video essay about the female-led films that defined cinema last year.
Miss Juneteenth women in film 2020
Vertical Entertainment
By  · Published on February 22nd, 2021

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay celebrating women in film in 2020.

Whenever I think about gender disparities in filmmaking, I think about a 2016 study published by The Pudding, which breaks down the dialogue of two thousand scripts by gender (and age). The data makes concrete the degree to which there is a gender gap on-screen. Seventy-five-percent of the dialogue in the sampled screenplays was sixty-to-ninety-percent male-dominated. Only nine screenplays were primarily female-spoken. I’m not surprised, but the numbers make the rhetoric around the issue feel more concrete.

Part of me wishes the study could be modified and repeated every five years or so, like some marvelous, data-driven comet. It would be interesting to see (given the site’s spectacular visualizations) how other branches of the industry-wide gender gap — like cinematography, directing, and producing — have, or have not, shifted over time. Gender-based disparities especially affect queer folks and women of color. I can only imagine data-sets highlighting such gaps would be illuminating, to put it mildly.

With all of this in mind, identifying and naming changes and improvements to “who gets to make movies” is important. Despite being not great for a lot of different reasons, 2020 was actually a banger year for women in film, from the return of legends like First Cow helmer Kelly Reichardt to exciting feature debuts such as Channing Godfrey PeoplesMiss Juneteenth.

Indeed, as the video essay below proves, itemizing all the women who made 2020 a little less one-note is a powerful thing; a form of data presentation less analytical, if more brazenly triumphant, than a cold hard data-set. If you’ve been looking for a way to foreground more female-led films in your own watch-habits, this right here is a mighty fine place to start:

Watch “Women in Film 2020 – A Celebration of Female Directors“:

Who made this?

This video comes courtesy of the fine folks at Little White Lies, a film-obsessed magazine based in the United Kingdom. Luís Azevedo edited this video. You can follow Little White Lies on Twitter here. And you can check out their official website here. You can subscribe to their YouTube account here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).