Every year at award season, The Hollywood Reporter invites several handpicked actors, actresses and directors who they feel represented some of the best work in the film industry. This year’s director’s roundtable gathered The Descendants‘ Alexander Payne, Beginners‘ Mike Mills, Shame‘s Steve McQueen, Young Adult‘s Jason Reitman, Moneyball‘s Bennett Miller and The Artist‘s Michel Hazanavicius to discuss their films as well as those by their colleagues. A while back we posted a link to several two minute snippets to the discussion, but now the full video has arrived online.
I’m usually onboard with who they choose to invite, only this year something rubbed me the wrong way. Quite simply the magazine didn’t do their job in bringing together a diverse group of individuals, and omitting the presence of any female director. Even worse, at one point, the reporter challenges the men to name a woman who directed a major motion picture in 2011. Seriously? Are you kidding me? Have they not seen Lynne Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin, Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights, Kelly Reichardt’s Meeks’ Cutoff (just to name a few), all of which have a solid chance of making my top 10 of 2011. Here’s a snippet from the the conversation. Notice how quick Mike Mills is so quick to respond. For anyone who doesn’t know, his wife is Miranda July directed this year’s divisive (but much loved on my end), The Future.
THR: You’re all men, and only one of you, Steve, is a minority — why is that?
McQueen: I must be in America.
Mills: Yeah, why isn’t there a woman here? My wife could be sitting here.
THR: Name a female director who made a major film this year.
Mills: Miranda July [The Future].
Payne: Lynne Ramsay [We Need to Talk About Kevin], Andrea Arnold [Wuthering Heights].
THR: OK, but you’re talking about small films that have been little seen in America.
McQueen: I mean, the question could be different. The question could be, “Why aren’t there more black directors?” because there are obviously more women directors than black directors.
THR: So what’s the answer?
McQueen: I have no idea. I mean, it’s opportunity, isn’t it? That’s what it’s about — opportunity. And access, because some people just give up. I’m always astonished by American filmmakers, particularly living in certain areas, when they never cast one black person, or have never put them in a lead in the movie. I’m astonished. It’s shameful. How do you live in New York and not cast a black actor or a Latino actor? It’s shameful. It’s unbelievable.
The video has generated quite a lot of talk on Twitter. Here is a few more excerpts from the conversation. You can watch the full video below.
The Hollywood Reporter: There are a lot of good directors. What makes a great director?
Alexander Payne: The luck that the work you do happens to hit the zeitgeist. A director can have a career spanning decades, but if he or she is lucky, there’s about a 10-year period where you’re given a chance to touch the zeitgeist. You can be doing very good and honest work before then and after then, and one of those periods may return, too. Robert Altman had it in the ’70s, and then he kind of went underground. He never stopped working, and then he reemerged again for a final stretch run. Woody Allen kept doing very good and honest work — excellent work in the ’70s, of course, and then he kept chipping away with hits and misses. Now, he’s kind of having a late-career resurgence.
Bennett Miller: The directors I’m most impressed with have some kind of perspective. If it’s Hitchcock or Kubrick or Scorsese or maybe an Alexander Payne, you watch those fil