Agnieszka Holland says cinema is a 'boys' club' that ignores women

Acclaimed film-maker says TV is now a more female-friendly environment and criticises Hollywood for refusing to believe women can make blockbusters

The Oscar-nominated Polish director Agnieszka Holland has described cinema as a “boys’ club” during an on-stage interview at BFI Southbank, revealing that she now feels more comfortable as a woman working in television.

Holland, whose 1990 film Europa Europa was nominated for the best adapted screenplay Oscar and won the 1991 Golden Globe for best foreign language film, was in London for a celebration of her work at the Thameside venue. Interviewed by the Guardian’s Mark Lawson, she said female directors struggled because the “demanding” profession was “difficult to combine with a family life”, in comments first reported by the BBC.

Labelling cinema a “boys’ club” she said the mostly male Hollywood hierarchy “don’t believe women have the capacity to make blockbusters”. Holland, whose 2011 second world war drama In Darkness was nominated for best foreign language film at the 2012 Academy Awards, said female directors often found themselves spending “five years in [industry] hell after just one failure”, in contrast to their male counterparts.

The film-maker said she now found television to be a far more female-friendly environment. Holland, who has directed episodes of Netflix’s Emmy-winning political thriller House of Cards and classic HBO crime drama The Wire, told Lawson she was chosen ahead of Spike Lee to direct the pilot episode of New Orleans drama Treme.

Oscar-nominated ... In Darkness, directed by Agnieszka Holland
Oscar-nominated ... In Darkness, directed by Agnieszka Holland Photograph: Jasmin Marla Dichant/Publicity image from film company

In October, a survey by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University found that female film-makers directed just 7% of Hollywood’s top 250 movies in 2014. Earlier the same month, it emerged that US equal opportunities officials are to interview dozens of female film-makers as part of a historic probe into gender discrimination in Hollywood.

The BFI Southbank is presenting a season of films by Holland, the current chair of the European Film Academy, as part of the 14th Kinoteka festival of Polish film.


Ben Child

The GuardianTramp

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