Report by Georgina Pollard.
On Friday afternoon the Park Lane Hilton Hotel played host to one thousand guests from the film and TV industry all gathered together to celebrate the 24th annual Women in Film and Television Awards.
Significantly outnumbered in the film and TV industry women often struggle to get the recognition they deserve. This is particularly well illustrated by the fact that only four female directors have been nominated by Oscar since the Academy Awards began in 1929. Even more shockingly, Kathryn Bigelow (director of The Hurt Locker) was the very first female director to actually win at the Academy Awards as recently as 2010! It is no wonder then that women from all over the film and TV industry flocked to this great event to take the opportunity to recognise and encourage existing and emerging talent.
The awards were hosted by Sandi Toksvig OBE who has presented, acted, written and produced for both British radio and television. Additionally, she is also the brains behind Playhouse Presents on Sky Arts; personally writing and producing most of the content for the first three years.
When asked about the difficulties facing women in the film and TV industry Toksvig said: “Just this year the gender pay gap has increased by 1% to 16% so just generally for women there’s a lot to do. On the television there are far fewer women hosting things. On question time it’s about three quarters of all panellists are boys. I very rarely appear on a show with another woman, I don’t know why.”
In films it seems more and more column inches are loaded with speculation about the appearance of various actresses rather than their performance on screen. One of the most recent instances of this is the comments made regarding actress Renee Zellweger. Toksvig said: “Actually I think she’s just happy. And honestly that’s what I think about her. I think it’s a shame that we don’t celebrate how everybody looks. I mean good heavens there’s some ugly men aren’t there in film and television? Dear God! So I think we come in many shapes and sizes, all of us, and we should celebrate all of it.”
In recognition of over six inspirational decades in the film industry Vanessa Redgrave CBE was presented the very special EON Productions Lifetime Achievement Award by English playwright and director Sir David Hare.
The Academy Award winning actress’s first film was Morgan, A Suitable Case For Treatment and since then she has appeared in countless great movies including The Charge of the Light Brigade, Atonement and the upcoming Foxcatcher.
But does she think the landscape has changed for women in the film industry? Redgrave said: “Yeah women work harder than ever before and get paid less than ever before.”
For some, it seems the film industry in general has become a difficult place for everyone to survive. John Hannah (star of Four Weddings and A Funeral and Sliding Doors) said: “I think it’s a nervous time in all aspects even in the studio hence you’re seeing… the bigger films that are being made there are less of them. They’re sucking up more of the budgets. I think that executives and finance people are anxious and they’re trying to hedge their bets as much as possible… money’s tight.”
Hannah presented The Argonon Contribution to the Medium Award to Julie Baines, a leading producer, who has worked with directors such as Peter Bogdanovich and Nicolas Roeg.
Other winners included Gone Girl star Rosamund Pike who took The MAC Best Performance Award but unfortunately was unable to attend as she has recently given birth to her second child.
BFI London Film Festival Director Clare Stewart presented The Deluxe Digital Cinema Director Award to Joanna Hogg (director and screenwriter of Archipelago and Exhibition) whilst location manager Sue Quinn took The Film Finances Project Management Award. Quinn has worked on projects such as Notting Hill, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and new movie Tarzan but one of her most outstanding feats was landing a helicopter in Trafalgar Square for Tom Cruise movie Edge of Tomorrow (2014).
Despite the focus on the difficulties faced by women entering the film and TV industry The Great British Bake Off’s Sue Perkins was positive. She said “Here’s to the next generation. Quite frankly I’m not getting any younger and I really do hope as you say there is a tide that’s turning and more and more are entering the industry.”
In television with strong characters like River Song and Amy Pond, Dr. Who writer Steven Moffat has been ahead of many in identifying this turning tide. He said of River Song : “I remember people used to say to me you’ve got to make her a bit nicer because she’s a girl. They used to say that to me all the time she has to show her vulnerability. I said you haven’t said that about any of the male characters have you? Why does she have to have vulnerability?”
Movies are beginning to catch up with TV though and with strong female leads such as last year’s Gravity and the soon to be concluded Hunger Games trilogy, 2015 might be about to mark a great step for womankind. With upcoming movies like Reese Witherspoon’s latest Wild and Gal Gadot’s debut in Wonder Woman, we’ve got our fingers crossed.
Full list of winners and presenters
The Barclays Business Award – Jane Turton, presented by Ant and Dec (Video Presentation)
The FremantleMedia UK New Talent Award – Daisy Jacobs, presented by Tristan Oliver
The Panalux Craft Award – Consolata Boyle, presented by Gemma Arterton
The BBC News and Factual Award – Sara Hardy and Blue Ryan, presented by Ronke Phillips
The Film Finances Project Management Award – Sue Quinn, presented by David Yates
The NEP Visions Presenter Award – Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, presented by Mary Berry
The Deluxe Digital Cinema Director Award – Joanna Hogg, presented by Clare Stewart
The Creative Skillset Writing Award – Lucy Kirkwood, absentee winner
The Technicolor Creative Technology Award – Kate Hopkins, presented by Sue Perkins
The ENVY Producer Award – Katie Swinden, presented by Oona King, Baroness King of Bow
The MAC Best Performance Award – Rosamund Pike, absentee winner
The ITV Studios Achievement of the Year Award – Lyse Doucet, presented by Jon Snow
The Argonon Contribution to the Medium Award – Julie Baines, presented by John Hannah
The EON Productions Lifetime Achievement Award – Vanessa Redgrave, presented by Sir David Hare