Women vy­ing for Os­cars salute progress

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - FRONT PAGE - By Lynn El­ber

BEV­ERLY HILLS >> The mood at Diane von Fursten­berg’s lunch hon­or­ing this year’s fe­male Os­car con­tenders could have been down­beat, given the shutout of women di­rec­tors for Sun­day’s awards. In­stead, it was cel­e­bra­tory and de­fi­ant.

The 30-plus nom­i­nees who gath­ered at von Fursten­berg’s home, tucked into el­e­gant and se­cluded grounds, cheered as the women spoke in turn. Laura Dern, a best sup­port­ing ac­tress nom­i­nee for “Mar­riage Story,” kicked things off Wed­nes­day by re­call­ing von Fursten­berg’s first nom­i­nees’ lunch six years ago.

A sin­gle couch was enough to hold the hand­ful of women, Dern told the packed room, adding, “I look for­ward to that en­tire gar­den to be filled in a few years!”

Von Fursten­berg and Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sciences CEO Dawn Hud­son said a record 67 nom­i­na­tions went to women this year, which Hud­son called rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a trend in the academy that has long tilted heav­ily male. Half the newly in­vited mem­bers are women, she said, and the lead­er­ship is chang­ing as well.

“When I started with the academy nine years ago there were six fe­male gov­er­nors, and it was hard for our voices to be heard around the big ta­ble,” Hud­son said. “And to­day there are 25.”

Greta Ger­wig, ex­cluded from the best di­rec­tor cat­e­gory for “Lit­tle Women” de­spite its best-pic­ture bid, was on hand briefly be­fore dash­ing out, it was ex­plained, to get back home to her baby.

“That’s OK. As long as she gets the Os­car,” a guest called out. Ger­wig is a nom­i­nee for best adapted screen­play.

For­mer stu­dio chief Amy Pas­cal, who pro­duced “Lit­tle Women,” of­fered an in­dus­try vet­eran’s per­spec­tive.

“On be­half of Greta and my­self, yeah, it would have been bet­ter if she got nom­i­nated. But ‘Lit­tle Women’ is the third movie in the his­tory of the Os­cars that is pro­duced, di­rected and writ­ten” by women, Pas­cal said, draw­ing ap­plause.

That’s good, she said, “but more is bet­ter.”

Krysty Wil­son-Cairns, who earned a best orig­i­nal screen­play nod for “1917,” said the film has been her passport to many par­ties and some telling mo­ments.

“Every time I say I’m the writer of ‘1917,’ peo­ple go, ‘huh?’ and those peo­ple are un­fail­ingly male. And to­day, not one sin­gle per­son in this room has gone, ‘huh?’” she said. “So i just want to say thank you for that.”

Karen Ru­pert To­liver, a pro­ducer of the nom­i­nated an­i­mated short “Hair Love,” mar­veled at be­ing in the room with her in­dus­try “heroes.” To­liver was among the few nom­i­nees of color at­tend­ing the lunch in a year that pro­duced only one nod for a non-white ac­tor, Cynthia Erivo in “Har­riet.”

Women are mak­ing im­pres­sive strides in doc­u­men­taries and an­i­ma­tion, as was em­pha­sized by the nearly 20 guests with nods in those cat­e­gories.

Ju­lia Re­ichert, who earned her fourth and lat­est nom­i­na­tion for the doc­u­men­tary “Amer­i­can Fac­tory,” sum­moned mem­o­ries from her early ca­reer. One was hear­ing that a woman can con­trol the fam­ily’s shop­ping bud­get “but you don’t want to give her $5 mil­lion to make a movie.”

“This is an ac­tual quote from a pro­ducer guy back then. And how do we get from there to where we are?” Re­ichert said, sug­gest­ing two rea­sons.

“We’re not ac­cept­ing pa­tri­archy, not ac­cept­ing the way the males have done it. We have our own way and we’re go­ing to make our own way. The other thing is sol­i­dar­ity, sol­i­dar­ity among women,” Re­ichert said, draw­ing shouts of “Yes!” from other guests.

Some re­in­forced the value of sis­ter­hood with their own sto­ries. Kirs­tine Bar­fod, who with Si­grid Dyek­jaer pro­duced the nom­i­nated doc­u­men­tary “The Cave,” about a heroic doc­tor and her staff in wartorn Syria, said it was Dyek­jaer’s faith in her abil­i­ties that helped make her ca­reer pos­si­ble.


Greta Ger­wig, left, and Laura Dern at­tend the 92nd Academy Awards Nom­i­nees Lun­cheon at the Loews Ho­tel on Mon­day in Los Angeles.

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