I used to think a “male gaze” in the movies was a close-up camera shot of a male face – you know, one with a man’s eyes lingering on something he wants or can’t have.

Turns out it means just the opposite and the gaze describes a world view through a man’s gender lens.

This is what Alicia Malone, a film reporter, writer, and TV host describes in today’s fascinating discussion about what a film director looks like. Malone says the feminist theory of the male gaze explains why this masculine, heterosexual perspective continues to dominate the film industry.

Malone asserts that because directors in the film business are still overwhelmingly male, it’s impossible for movies to provide an accurate, inclusive record of history.  That said, she admits that women are making progress. This is the case thanks to many factors, including the Gina Davis Institute that advocates for more on women in film to the growing popularity of independent films where women have greater opportunities to work behind the camera.

Photo credit: Harpers Bazaar Arabia (Labaki and husband with Oprah Winfrey)

It used to be that directors like Alice Guy Blanche, Lois Weber, and Dorothy Asner were dominant forces in the industry until the 1930s. Today, women directors are grossly underrepresented but the undeniable talent of newcomers like this week’s featured artist, Nadine Labaki is making a difference.

Nadine’s success is reviving discussion around the need for female film directors. With access to  investment capital, women can and do have something to say.  There are so many critical topics that need to be addressed and include the perspective of women like Nadine. After Nadine started filming Capernaum, the United Nations involvement helped members of the cast and their families find asylum from their refugee status.

When WomanScape profiled Nadine in Nadine Labaki: Art That Can Change Reality, it was also in part to draw attention to the much needed discussion around the role of women in film and in the world.  Like Malone’s video, Nadine’s movies show us that great storytelling must be inclusive if we want to reach all audiences and provide a more balanced view of life.

Rose McInerney

Author Rose McInerney

Rose combines her love of all things artfully-designed to connect women to a shared community of learning and a richer, more fulfilled self. As a passionate storyteller, published writer, and international traveler, Rose believes women can build a better world through powerful storytelling.

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