As I curated Constellation’s inaugural portfolio of female filmmakers, I was elated to converse with some of my idols: women who are nothing short of trailblazers in the industry.
I began this project by making a list of women whose films had affected or interested me; every single woman I reached out to for this portfolio, to my pleasant surprise, said yes. This show of solidarity between women in support of their work deeply encouraged me.
As an actor, writer, and director myself, oftentimes I’m met with confusion or surprise when I tell people what I do. Some still find it impossible to believe that women might wield power both behind and in front of the camera. Yet we need only look at each woman featured in this portfolio—the creative risks they have taken, the roles they have written for themselves—to know that the naysayers are sorely mistaken.
There’s no doubt that 2016 was a stellar year for women in film, with 2017 poised to follow suit. Take for example Andrea Arnold (cited by countless women featured in Constellation as a director they admire) and her film American Honey, the bold story of Star (played by newcomer Sasha Lane) who defies the limitations of her life to follow her instincts and dreams. Or producer-turned-director Anna Rose Holmer, who’s featured in this issue’s New York portfolio, and her audacious debut, The Fits, centered on preteen Toni (played by the unforgettable Royalty Hightower) and a mysterious ailment that breaks out among the Lionesses, a local Cincinnati all-girls’ dance team.
And then there’s Leah Meyerhoff, an award-winning filmmaker and the founder of Film Fatales: an international network for women in film whose members meet regularly for mentorship and collaboration. I also had the honor of speaking with Haifaa al-Mansour, the first female Saudi Arabian filmmaker, whose upcoming feature film tells the story of novelist Mary Shelley (who, it’s worth recalling, could not even put her name to her nineteenth-century masterpiece, Frankenstein, when it was first published).
The list goes on.
Now I urge you to take the time to sit with these interviews, and then invite some friends over to watch the films. These women are changing and challenging the face of cinema worldwide. They show us how far we have come—and how far we have yet to go.