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The following sentence bears repeating because clearly The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have forgotten its veracity: Women direct movies. They always have and they always will, whether Hollywood is backing them or not.
Thankfully, there are other outlets that are taking concrete actions to level out the (straight white) male-dominated playing field.
This week at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, Vimeo launched Share the Screen, a brand-new initiative which pledges to support and even create opportunities for woman filmmakers by funding five woman-driven movies that they will then help promote and sell, as they did for their breakout series, High Maintenance. (Vimeo also announced that it will curate a video on demand collection called "Female-Directed, Vimeo-Approved," featuring films by the likes of Mélanie Laurent and Tribeca alumni Crystal Moselle and Lucy Walker.)
The first original film in Vimeo's new platform is Osmany Rodriguez's quirky short film Darby Forever, in which Saturday Night Live's terrific Aidy Bryant co-writes and stars as Darby, a fabric-store employee who immerses herself in a fantastical dreamworld while dealing with the demands of customers and co-workers. The film features Orange is the New Black's Natasha Lyonne and Parks and Recreation's Twitter Queen Retta and will premiere on Vimeo next month.
Watch the trailer above and then watch Marielle Heller's The Diary of a Teenage Girl or Céline Sciamma's Girlhood or Alice Rohrwacher's The Wonders or Mia Hansen-Løve's Eden or Laurie Anderson's Heart of a Dog or Deniz Gamze Ergüven's Mustang or Laurent's Breathe or Dee Rees' Bessie or Jennifer Phang's Advantageous or Jessica Hausner's Amour fou or any of the other breathtaking, woman-helmed films from this past year that you may have skipped out on. Yes, Hollywood desperately needs to hire more women behind their cameras, but, as these aforementioned films certainly prove, Hollywood isn't the only industry that makes movies and these projects are indeed being produced and put out there through independent and international sectors.
For every three new releases directed by straight white men that we see per year, can we promise to see one more new release helmed by a woman or a filmmaker who belongs to literally any other demographic? Maybe the simplest solution for fixing chauvinist (and ivory and heteronormative) institutions like AMPAS is to actually see and support these movies when they arrive, whether it be in theaters or online, and then giving loud and active voice to our appreciation by sharing these films and encouraging others to donate their time and dollars towards them as well. Woman filmmakers are still fighting on a daily basis for the right to tell their stories; the very least that we, as hungry audiences, can do is prove that these stories will be seen.
And sure, five movies isn't a large amount, but Vimeo's latest endeavor is a more-than-admirable start towards bridging the equality gap. Progress can look and feel however we want it to. It often just requires the effort.