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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Kathryn Bigelow Best Director at BAFTA. Is Oscar History Next?

On February 21, 2010, at the 63rd British Film and Television Awards (BAFTAs) Kathryn Bigelow received recognition as the year's Best Director for Best Film, The Hurt Locker. Could this award be a precursor to the Academy Awards next month? Could Bigelow become the first woman ever to win an Oscar for directing? Many say, yes. It's been a long time since Women started directing, and a few other women have been nominated for the coveted golden statue. However, no other woman has ever been as seriously considered. So why here and now? Because Bigelow is a damn good director, and it's about time!

As a young woman, Bigelow was originally interested in the Fine Arts. She was by all accounts a very talented painter, who spent two years at the San Francisco Art Institute. She even received a scholarship to the Whitney Museum's Independent Study Program at the age of twenty. She switched to filmmaking when she earned a scholarship to study film at Columbia University School of Arts, and never turned back. Her early professional work with such films as Near Dark and Point Break are strong dramas that show no signs of having been directed by a woman, which for many years has been the fear of Hollywood when considering female directors.

Bigelow has been quoted as saying, "If there's specific resistance to women making movies, I just choose to ignore that as an obstacle for two reasons: I can't change my gender, and I refuse to stop making movies. It's irrelevant who or what directed a movie, the important thing is that you either respond to it or you don't. There should be more women directing; I think there's just not the awareness that it's really possible. It is".

As of 2010 Bigelow is only the forth woman to be nominated for the Directing Academy Award. The others were: Lina Wertmüller for Seven Beauties in 1977, Jane Campion for The Piano in 1993, and Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation in 2003. The fact that there have only been four women EVER nominated for the directing award is particularly disturbing when you realize that women have been a part of the directing world since the very beginning of film itself, back in the late 1800s with such talents as Alice Guy-Blache, then Dorothy Arzner in the 1920s, and later Ida Lupino in the late Studio Era.

There will be a time when gender, let alone ethnicity will no longer be significant factors in determining who gets the job as director on a Hollywood production. The time may not be now, but we are far closer to it than we have ever been before. And if Kathryn Bigelow does achieve an historical first come Oscar night, a very large and heavy door will have been opened for the trail blazers that follow. Either way, she's still a damn good director. No doubt she'll be an inspiration to ALL new directors for years to come.

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