When the Golden Globe nominations were announced weeks ago, “Honey Boy” director Alma Har’el was one of the most outspoken people that were upset by the HFPA’s Best Director category dominated by men. And now that the Oscar nominations have been announced, once again excluding a female from its Best Director category, Har’el is not just upset at the news, but she’s also here to offer a potential solution.
In a column written for EW, Har’el tackled the issue of inclusivity amongst Best Director nominations and what might be the cause. And on top of diagnosing the issue, she also has a proposition for how to recognize and include more diverse voices in the awards conversation.
The filmmaker discusses the truth about why she (and others) campaign hard for their films during awards season, including bonuses that trigger with nominations and, obviously, giving your film that you worked so hard on for years the exposure it deserves.
“We all feel morally compromised, but we have to campaign,” she wrote. “What other choices do we have? If we don’t have awards, people may not discover lesser-known independent films.”
She added, “We are told again and again that it’s essential to our success in the long term that we play along… But it didn’t used to be like this.”
But Har’el’s essay isn’t just about how the industry has been excluding female filmmakers and filmmakers of color for years, or how this year’s awards season has seen the directing categories dominated by men. She is also offering up a potential solution, basing her idea off of other voting groups and their awards categories.
The solution, in the eyes of Har’el, is to open up the directing awards to be more inclusive by expanding categories, perhaps including a Best Female Director/Best Male Director split (similar to the acting awards) or how the DGAs offer something like Best First-Time Filmmaker (which she was nominated for, along with two other women).
“Why is suggesting separating the directing category to male and female frowned-upon, while Best Actor and Best Actress is agreeable? Are we so naive to assume we would celebrate actresses as much as we do today if acting categories weren’t separate?” Har’el suggested.
Obviously, the opinion of one filmmaker, regardless of gender, is not going to make a difference in the eyes of the Academy. However, bringing this idea to the table as a potential solution and talking point might be able to bring change to a system that does feel a bit biased towards certain types of films and certain segments of filmmakers.
“The status quo will always protect itself by getting women and underrepresented filmmakers play a game they can’t win,” Har’el concluded. “By making us believe that anything other than breaking into the white boys’ club is failure. It is up to us to feel differently and build a new world that celebrates us.”