One of the most disheartening aspects of attending this year’s CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas was the lack of female directors on hand. It wasn’t because they were all busy working on new films. No, it’s because Hollywood studios are shockingly making very little progress in hiring more women behind the camera. It’s unclear if the theater owners on hand noticed it, but the press certainly did. One filmmaker who has made strides in her own career, however, is Niki Caro.
The New Zealand native first burst onto the global film scene with her art house and Oscar nominated indie drama “Whale Rider.” She followed that up with Warner Bros.’ “North Country,” her first studio film, and helmed “McFarland, USA” for Disney in 2015. Now, she’s on a tear with Focus Features’ “The Zookeeper’s Wife” starring Jessica Chastain and the pilot episode of “Anne,” based on the classic novel “Anne of Green Gables,” for the CBC and Netflix. More noteworthy is she’s been chosen to spearhead Disney’s live action adaptation of “Mulan.” It’s a frustratingly rare opportunity from the industry to “trust” a woman to direct a movie with a budget over $100 million.
Caro admitted during in the most recent episode of the 4 Quadrant Podcast, that she hadn’t been as vocal about fighting for more female filmmakers in the past as you might have expected. The time for being silent, however, is clearly over.
“I avoided talking about this for so long because I wanted to protect my right to be a director. Not a female director or a male director, but a director. Regardless of gender, the job is the same,” Caro says. “But it did occur to me that the statistic is no different from when I made ‘North Country’ with Charlize Theron 13 years ago to making ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ with Jessica Chastain in 2017. There is still the shameful statistic of female directors in Hollywood. So, now’s the time to speak up about that and to say out loud that it’s shameful just by ignoring 50% of the talent and skill, insight and ambition of available filmmakers.”
You get more insight into Caro’s thoughts on the industry and the incredible feat she pulled off working with so many live animals in “The Zookeeper’s Wife” by checking out the podcast.
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