Cinema — a word that creates images of art and aesthetics, a space of indefinite imagination and creativity. It compels you to feel the emotion you thought you never had, it opens up a little hidden empathy in your stubborn chest. That captivating cinematic pleasure is genderless. It doesn’t barge into your ego to tell you which gender creates compelling cinema but just lets you flow. Flow in the ocean of unending depth wherein with each dive you embrace a new horizon. That’s how cinema works — layers within layers till you feel that you are the character living it.
Such characters are refined by exceptional creative minds, minds that understand the complexity of humans and slowly open their layers one after the other. It reflects reality in fiction. It asks you questions about your existence and lets you live life through its characters. Such performances deserve acknowledgement irrespective of gender or colour. As creativity doesn’t understand the bounds of norms prevalent in our society. It is just a language created by the artists and comprehended by geniuses. This year’s Oscar winners have proven one thing explicitly — artistes are on just one mission,i.e, to make you feel alive and leave you spellbound. This year welcomed diversity at the Academy Awards.
Nomadland’s truth is more compelling than its fiction, at the grandeur of magnificent Zhao’s screenplay gives the character the thinnest of backstories. The chivalric directions of a woman painting nothingness of mundanity of emotions, and life. The second woman to win the best directing award in nearly 100 years by creating an allegory of seemingly average women beautifully displaying the creative courage of a woman. It readies us for acceptance, creates an emotion of empathy for another woman, to a character of undying courage and adventure.
Chloe Zhao, the first woman of color to win the award, wins the heart of every woman by chronicling a journey and making each one of us live an inexperienced journey. In the Academy Awards’ 92-year history, only five women have ever been nominated for Best Director, and only one — Kathryn Bigelow — has ever won. It narrates how minds are still shackled because this can’t be a mere coincidence. It depicts the lack of opportunity and the lack of women directors in cinema across the world.
According to a report from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, women made up 10.6% of the directors of the top 100 grossing movies from 2019. That number is up from 4.5% the year before, and the highest since the institute began tracking the data in 2007.
“Following the one-two punch of the #OscarsSoWhite and #TimesUp campaigns, the Academy has tried to diversify its ranks, inviting more than 2,000 new members to join since 2017. Last year, the organization announced that 32% of its members were women, up from 25% in 2015, and 16% were people of color, up from 8% in 2015. So why aren’t more women — and particularly more women of color — getting nominated in the directing category? There are a lot of complex factors at play, but at least one of them may be fairly simple: There just aren’t that many women choosing the nominees,” according to TIME.
According to the Academy’s website, members must have at least two directorial credits, at least one of which had to premiere in theaters in the last 10 years. The films must also be deemed “of a caliber which, in the opinion of the executive committee, reflect the high standards of the Academy.” A director with only one credit to their name might also qualify if that film is nominated for Best Directing, Best Picture or Best Foreign Language Film, or if the executive committee decides to make an exception based on some “unique distinction” or “special merit.” (It’s unclear how often that happens.)
Fighting all odds, women and colored people wrote history at the 93rd annual Academy Award. Where Chinese-born filmmaker Chloe Zhao took home the best director award, British actor Daniel Kaluuya, won Best Supporting Actor for his role as the late Black Panther activist Fred Hampton in the drama, Judas and the Black Messiah. He first came to international attention in the 2017 black comedy horror Get Out; meanwhile, Youn Yuh-Jung, 73, was named Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as a cantankerous grandmother in immigrant tale Minari. Youn was the first South Korean actor or actress to win an Oscar.
The 93rd annual Academy Award, which took place at Los Angeles’ Union Station with in-person celebrations — albeit under coronavirus health rules — after a year of virtual ceremonies. The event was also a further step forward for women and people of colour.
“It was definitely one of the most diverse slates of nominees in terms of gender and race,” said Al Jazeera’s report. “There were nine actors of colour in the acting categories. There were 76 different nominations for 70 women in a variety of categories.”
Last September, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organises the Oscars, published new inclusion and diversity guidelines that must be followed by filmmakers to be eligible for Best Picture, starting in 2024.
“We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry,” Academy President David Rubin and Chief Executive Dawn Hudson said in a joint statement.
While the new guideline still awaits its implementation, this year’s winner-list upholds that talent knows no boundaries, no norms and no gender. Creativity has no thresholds, it crosses miles and miles till it captivates every mind.