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Helen Mirren accuses Sam Mendes of sexism at last night's Empire film awards

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Helen Mirren accuses Sam Mendes of sexism at last night's Empire film awards

Post  Panda on Mon 25 Mar - 10:27

Empire Awards: Dame Helen Mirren accuses Sam Mendes of sexism

Helen Mirren accuses Sam Mendes of sexism at last night's Empire film

Dame Helen Mirren Photo: Getty

By Robbie Collin, Chief Film

7:29AM GMT 25 Mar 2013


Dame Helen Mirren was presented with the ‘Legend Award' by Empire at
the film magazine's annual award
ceremony last night, and it took her all of 30 seconds to live up to that

“I don’t want to unduly pick on Sam Mendes, but when he spoke about his
inspirations earlier this evening, I’m afraid not a single one of the people he
mentioned was a woman,” she said.

Earlier in the evening, Mendes won Best Film, Best Director and the Empire
Inspiration Award for his Bond film Skyfall. He used one of his speeches to
credit the directors that had in turn inspired him in his filmmaking career:
Paul Thomas Anderson, François Truffaut, Martin Scorsese and Ingmar Bergman
amongst them.

It was a desperately tasteful selection, but Dame Helen was unimpressed.
“Hopefully in five or ten years, when Sam’s successor is collecting their
Inspiration Award, the list will be slightly more balanced in terms of its
sexual make-up,” she continued. “In the meantime, this one is for the girls.”
And with those words she left the stage, to a very womanly roar of appreciation
from the audience.

Dame Helen is absolutely right about this: running through the culture of
movie fandom is a bizarre fear of films made by women, films made primarily for
women, and films primarily about women. Hundreds of thousands of votes were cast
for last night’s awards by Empire Magazine’s 2.8 million-strong readership, and
yet in a year that featured popular and critically acclaimed mainstream movies
with terrific roles for women such as Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty and
Gary Ross’s The Hunger Games, the second most-garlanded film after Skyfall was
The Hobbit, Peter Jackson’s tedious fantasy sausage-fest.

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That gender imbalance is by no means peculiar to the Empire Awards, as
seasoned Oscar, Bafta and film festival observers know all too well. But it
continues to manifest itself elsewhere in the industry, in odder and more
depressing ways.

Take the reporting of the recent news that Lynne Ramsay, the director of We
Need To Talk About Kevin (2011), unexpectedly quit her next film, a Western
called Jane Got a Gun. Her two leading men, Michael Fassbender and Jude Law,
also left the obviously troubled production, but you won’t read any think-pieces
about how they’ve somehow let down “men in the industry” by doing so. Instead,
the focus of the industry press has been entirely on Ramsay, whose departure has
since been patronisingly described as “insane” and “irresponsible” by one of the
films producers, Scott Steindorff. (Ramsay has yet to give her side of the
story, and she no doubt has one.)

I’m sure Empire readers, male and female alike, don’t think of themselves as
a misogynistic bunch, and no doubt many of them who have been following the
Lynne Ramsay/Jane Got a Gun saga have despaired at the way in which the story
has been covered. But it’s worth pondering why Empire has yet to dedicate a
cover to the wildly successful, female-skewing Hunger Games franchise, and
never, throughout the saga’s four-year, £2.1 billion-grossing run, has the
British magazine dared to devote a single cover to Twilight. Would Hobbit
fanboys be able to cope with the encroachment of girls on their turf? Think
carefully on Dame Helen’s words, dear nerds, when it comes to marking your
ballots for the Empire Awards in 2014.
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