COLUMN: This is a year for strong female leads

The movements can only grow



There is no question in my mind that 2018 is a year for women. In the wake of the Weinstein scandals rippling through Hollywood, the #metoo social media movement, and the announcement of the Time’s Up call to action, we see the same messages: abuse and systemic inequality are wrong and will not be tolerated, and women and men must work together to build a just and equitable future for everyone.

The issues brought up through these movements are not specific only to the entertainment industry. They are pervasive throughout our society and collectively we have a lot of work to do. As women have continued to make their personal experiences public, as a presenter of film we at The Civic Theatre have continued to ask what we can and should do to support this movement for justice.

I have thought about complicity too – we show Hollywood films regularly and they are central to our stability. Our most profitable content is often about fast cars and super heroes, and films featuring female protagonists are not usually the big hits. Yet Wonder Woman and the most recent Star Wars have featured some very strong and exciting female protagonists and were unquestionable box office successes here and elsewhere. So are we getting ahead?

Perhaps, but consider this: in the top 500 films between 2007 and 2012, only 30 percent of speaking characters were women. Nine percent of films were directed by women, 15 percent written by women, 17 percent had female executive producers. Of the 16 biggest paycheques earned by actors per film, not a single one was earned by a female actor. Women buy 50 percent of tickets to movies, yet 77 percent of Oscar voters are men. There is still work to be done to create an equitable future for women’s rights and women’s voices in the entertainment industry.

I hope we see change thanks to recent events. As Oprah Winfrey said so eloquently in her recent acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at the Golden Globes: “Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell, and this year we became the story.” At The Civic Theatre, we want to use our space and our voice to celebrate and support women, and we will continue to look for ways to do that. Being a year that is already about women, we will start with our 2018 Oscar Party on March 3, titled Wonder Women: Strong Female Leads. Giving a nod to 2017 films like Wonder Woman, Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri, Ladybird, The Post, Jane, A Fantastic Woman, The Florida Project, and Molly’s Game, we invite you to join us for this black dress celebration of women (and the men that support us). All “strong female lead” costumes welcome too. Tickets are now on sale at civictheatre.ca.

And after the Oscar Party, be sure to check out Touchstones Nelson’s SHE. WE. THEY: The Women Show starting March 8 – a community-curated exhibition celebrating regional women (past and present); our own local Wonder Women.

Eleanor Stacey is the Executive Director of Nelson Civic Theatre Society.