Oak Cliff Film Festival Documentary Review: HALF THE PICTURE

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For as far as we have come as a society, discriminations of all kinds still greatly exist everywhere. Women experience unequal treatment in almost every field, with Hollywood and the film industry continually superseding the rest. The female to male ratio in regards to directing, writing, producing, editing, etc., tips the scale more favorably in the male direction, with female directors comprising of about thirteen percent in Hollywood. The topic of why this perpetuates in the industry is just one of many tackled issues within the new documentary titled, HALF THE PICTURE.

Directed by Amy Adrion, HALF THE PICTURE ventures deeply into the experiences of numerous female writers and directors and celebrates their accomplishments, while also discussing discrimination and missed moments due to societal systemics. Such greats as Penelope Spheeris, Ava Duvernay, Patricia Riggen, Mary Harron, and Catherine Hardwicke are just some of the many accomplished female directors included in this documentary that touch base on things like why women should help, hire, and teach other women in the industry. This documentary gives great insight towards the struggles, satisfactions, and sexist encounters experienced by each individual, and what role it played in their careers as a woman, an artist, or mother (or all three).

Diving headfirst into such topics as misogyny and discrimination can be all at once empowering, eye-opening, and frightening. The stories presented by these women will make you feel equip and simultaneously disappointed by their experiences. The statistics and stories shown within this documentary represent what a majority of the industry is and how women are given less chances at receiving funding and are treated less deserving of basic humanity by their male counterparts (among many other things). Director Amy Adrion smartly focuses on the positives and negatives of these chosen careers, and gives this documentary the feeling of exuberance and dread where appropriate. 

Another main issue presented here is that some people still treat discrimination like a myth. This is a totally understandable concept, as people who have never experienced it first hand cannot relate, while others are aware, but still agree with the primeval notion of women being inferior. All women have experienced this at one point or another. I myself have had my fair share, during my current day job and filmmaking experiences. While recently attempting to receive funding for a project of mine, one of my friends reached out to potential investors, with one out the three coming back with the response of, “but is she hot?”. This plays as a great example, as this is an aspect that affects only women in the industry. The level of a male’s attractiveness never becomes a question when being hired for any of these positions, leading to an unbalanced amount of equality and opportunities. 

HALF THE PICTURE is a documentary that shouldn’t be missed. It’s made by women, for everyone. The message it's expressing is to celebrate successes and to teach future generations of female filmmakers to bypass these stereotypes and work with confidence, despite the consistency of the patriarchy holding your head below water. To strive for a world where we as people can make art for the sake of art despite the gender barrier is the step to take in the right direction. The ability to create art comes from an internal place and does not stem from a barricading societal construct - it comes through hard work, intellect, and creativity, which should only show bounds through the abilities of the individual, not through their gender. All people are capable of doing these things, and excluding women from those opportunities should never be a thought. 

Abigail Braman