The awards ceremony that took place at the Beverly Hills Hilton last night looked, at first glance, like any other awards ceremony: lots of celebrities (Holly Hunter, Sofia Coppola, the cast of Mad Men), a big ballroom (the Golden Globes are also held there), and some forced chuckles for the host between the handing out of awards. Only it was different. The audience, the honorees, the emcees were all (OK, well, mostly) women, gathered for the 40th annual Women in Film Crystal & Lucy Awards.
Some staggering facts about women in film, courtesy of director and presenter Nancy Meyers, lest you think that it's an industry where the playing field is somewhat level: only 9% of all films in 2012 were directed by women and only 28% of the 100 highest-grossing films had speaking parts for women.* Let that soak in. "I thought we spoke a lot," Myers said. And with that, Myers handed out the director's award to Sofia Coppola, who broke her usual Marc Jacobs/Louis Vuitton streak in a sweet collared Valentino dress. "I hope my getting this award encourages other women to express themselves," Coppola said.
Despite the dismal stats, it was an encouraging night not just for women in film but for women in the workplace. When the women of Mad Men (Kiernan Shipka, Jessica Pare, Elisabeth Moss and January Jones) got on stage to accept their award for excellence in television they thanked and listed every single woman who works on the show (except costume designer Janie Bryant--which seemed like a glaring oversight). It was a comfortingly long list.
When Laura Linney accepted her award for excellence in film she recounted her years working with mostly male movie execs. She was surprised, she said, by the amount of time and dicussion devoted to her hair color. Directors would send her back to the colorist again and again asking for her to be made "more blond" or "less blond." "I always suspected they were trying to match my color to their high school flame," Linney said.
Linney, more than any other honoree (Hailee Steinfled and cinematographer Rachel Morrison took home awards as well), used her acceptance speech as a platform to encourage women to mentor one another. It's an entreaty we could stand to listen to in the fashion industry as well--we may have more women but we could could make this cutthroat industry a kinder place by mentoring one another.
And while the Hollywood set may not always be as stylish as the fashion industry, everyone looked to the nines last night thanks to MaxMara, the sponsor of the awards show, who dressed most celebrity attendees and socialites. Non-MaxMara standouts included Sofia Coppola in that sweet Valentino number and January Jones in a kaleidescopic Mary Katrantzou.
Take a look at the red carpet.
*For more on women in the film industry check out Dr. Stacy L. Smith's report on gender inequality in popular films out of the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at USC.