Women get in on the action, but at what price?


Women get in on the action, but at what price?

Female directors are breaking down the doors of the boys’ club, but they may be sucked into the franchise machine

Tymon Smith

Chloé Zhao and Emerald Fennell are two women making history in this year’s Oscar race, with their films Nomadland and Promising Young Woman receiving nominations in the best picture and best director categories. What such young independent directors with distinctive visions might do next is always a much-anticipated move, closely observed by film buffs and fans.

However, in this case we don’t need to wait until the Oscar winners are announced on April 25 to find out. Zhao is already in postproduction on the Marvel Comics Universe (MCU) franchise The Eternals, which she is making for Disney for $200m, and Fennell has just been announced as the writer for DC Films’ superhero sorceress film Zatanna.

Zhao has directed just three films since 2015 and received deserved acclaim for her distinctive low-budget, anthropological approach to docufiction stories of characters living in the margins of US society against the background of the dramatic landscapes of the fabled American West. Fennell has directed just one, which has received almost universal critical acclaim and is nominated for five Oscars...

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