Bigelow's Oscars will change Hollywood, slowly

Tue Mar 9, 2010 8:41pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Hurt Locker" director Kathryn Bigelow wrapped her fingers around that little golden man called Oscar on Sunday and cracked one of Hollywood's glass ceilings, but truly shattering it may take more time.

Studies show that the number of jobs for women behind the camera have declined in recent years and fewer roles for women are turning up in major studio movies. One might call it "The Hangover" realization of Sunday's big party.

Two days after Bigelow, 58, became the first woman to win the world's top film directing honor, Hollywood watchers say translating her victory into more female jobs may take years and depends as much on the business of moviemaking as awards.

There is no disagreement that Bigelow's win will be a strong symbol for current and upcoming female filmmakers, but whether they can achieve similar success depends on the stories they want to tell, who is buying them and box office returns.

"We are in the movie business. The business is a very important part," said Jane Fleming, president of Women in Film, a non-profit group that promotes and aids female filmmakers.

"Kathryn's win is exciting because it shows the next generation what is possible. But I don't think inherently it changes overnight the reality of moviemaking and the reality that female moviemakers lag behind their male counterparts."

One recent study, "The Celluloid Ceiling" shows that of 2009's top 250 films at box offices, women comprised only 16 percent of directors, producers, writers and other top jobs -- even with 2008 but 3 percentage points below 2001.

Women accounted for only 7 percent of directors, a drop of 2 points from 2008, according Martha Lauzen, who tracks women in television and film at San Diego State University and looked at more than 2,800 jobs.   Continued...

<p>Kathryn Bigelow, director of "The Hurt Locker", speaks after winning best director during the 82nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, March 7, 2010. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn</p>