Why are there so few female film-makers?

For Vanity Fair's annual Hollywood issue a few years back, photographer Annie Leibovitz created a classic image of a film director at work. Posing beneath a stormy sky, George Clooney stood with his shirt ripped open, trousers tucked rakishly into his boots, arms outstretched – a young Orson Welles meets Michelangelo's vision of God. His crew were a crowd of female models in flesh-coloured lingerie; not the obvious costume for a camera operator, but there you are. This was the auteur as masculine genius, a warrior amid a sea of passive women.

This has long been the archetype of the film director, but over the last few months a host of women have been making waves: Sam Taylor-Wood with Nowhere Boy, Lone Scherfig with An Education, Andrea Arnold with Fish Tank. Then there are Kathryn Bigelow and Jane Campion, both trailing Oscar buzz for The Hurt Locker and Bright Star respectively.



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