In October of 2015, Kathleen Kennedy told The Guardian that, “there’s nothing we’d like more than to find a female director for Star Wars.” Nearly two-and-a-half years and three Star Wars films later, a woman has still not been hired to direct a Star Wars film.
This issue was brought up again when Carey Mulligan was discussing her new film, Mudbound. While venerating the skills and abilities of Mudbound’s director, Dee Rees, Mulligan said: “If Dee Rees was a white man, she’d be directing the next Star Wars.”
Mulligan’s statement has caused people to revisit Kennedy’s words from 2015 to highlight how little has been done by Lucasfilm and Disney to hire a female director for a Star Wars film. While the Star Wars franchise is becoming more diverse in front of the camera with the introduction of new characters who reflect modern global audiences, it is time for Star Wars to benefit from more women and people of color being behind the camera. (Women only hold 18% of key behind-the-camera roles in 2017.) This would not only give more career opportunities to women and minorities working in the film industry, it would also allow for them to contribute their perspectives to these stories.
Given that there is a need and a consumer demand for Lucasfilms to hire a female director, I collaborated with up-and-coming writer, Ashley M. Ryan (@CreatedByAshley), to create a list of women directors who would perfectly fit the Star Wars franchise.
Also known as Kathryn “F—ing” Bigelow because she is amazing, Bigelow has a resume that makes her an ideal fit for a Star Wars film. Three Bigelow-directed films that support this are Strange Days, The Hurt Locker, and Zero Dark Thirty.
Strange Days came out in 1995 and was a film ahead of its time. It was a brilliant science fiction story that used film noir conventions to intelligently explore various political and social issues. It also has groundbreaking camera shots created by Bigelow with practical effects and pure awesomeness – something that modern directors accomplish with CGI. Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty highlight that she understands the true horrors of war and how they impact those involved. Moreover, all of her movies have a humanity to them that films of all genres could benefit from.
The fact that Ava DuVernay is only now getting a blockbuster film to direct should be seen as a crime against cinema. DuVernay’s Selma highlighted her ability to tell epic yet human stories, while experience on Scandal and running Queen Sugar shows that she is able to tell stories that are simply addictive. Plus, with A Wrinkle in Time coming out soon, DuVernay will be able to show that she is able to produce a successful blockbuster.
American Fable is Hamilton’s debut as a director and writer and is a haunting story of a farming family’s financial struggles in the 1980s. Hamilton showed in American Fable that she is capable of using fantasy to highlight the emotional struggle of the real world, and I can only imagine the types of amazing stories she could craft in the Star Wars universe.
Primarily a TV director, Jennifer Phang has directed episodes of Major Crimes, The Expanse, and the upcoming Cloak & Dagger. Given the cinematic feel she imbues onto the episodes she directs, it is clear that she has the potential to develop a feature-length film. On top of this experience, her short film, Advantageous, displays that she is more than capable of brilliantly crafting unique science fiction stories.
Without question, The Wachowskis are amazing visual storytellers. Moreover, their recent work on Sense8 has reaffirmed their ability to tell compelling and thought-provoking stories. The fact that they haven’t yet made a Star Wars film seems like a glitch in the matrix. And even if they only get to create a spinoff film, it will be a movie that has fans discussing it for decades to come.
All the Women Directors from XX
XX is an amazing anthology horror movie that every horror fan should watch. Comprised of four stories and farming sequence directed by Sofia Carrillo, Jovanka Vuckovic, Annie Clark, Roxanne Benjamin, and Karyn Kusama, XX is a fantastic showcase of horror, and XX shows that these directors understand the conventions of horror, storytelling, and audience psychology. Whether it is as individuals or as a group, these women would be assets to the Star Wars Universe.
This Chinese filmmaker has been directing movies since 1978. I first came across her work when I watched her film, Visible Secret. This ghost film shows that Ann Hui knows how to balance fantastical elements with grounded human emotions. In addition to Hui having the technical talents needed to make a stellar Star Wars film, the fact that she is Chinese could help the Star Wars brand in this market.
Rounding out this list is Patty Jenkins because of course Patty Jenkins has to be on a list like this. While the Oscars may have snubbed her work on Wonder Woman, audiences and critics haven’t. Jenkins proved that a female character could lead a summer blockbuster. Jenkins managed to keep the story focused on Wonder Woman while introducing and developing compelling male characters – a skill that many directors lack.
Basically, Jenkins could be a revelation to Star Wars and the galaxy far, far away is lacking without her.
So what do you all think of this list? And who do you think should be hired to direct a Star Wars film?