And Speaking of No Woman Ever Winning an Academy Award for Best Director…

In my last post I mentioned that no woman has ever won an Oscar for best director and only 3 have ever been nominated.

There is now a campaign to get Slumdog Millionnaire’s co-director Loveleen Tandan on the academy nomination with director Danny Boyle. Jan Lisa Huttner of WITASWAN has kicked up the campaign.

Tandan is being very gracious about the whole thing, of course. There’s no way she’s going to make a stink about it. She has been getting lots of press in India. But internationally, no one was mentioning it.

I’m all for Tandan sharing the nomination, especially if she was as indispendible as Boyle says. I am vocal about the inequalities in the film industry… but if she gets it, will people take it seriously or will it be known as the time when women whined to get her an Oscar?

What bothered me most was Tandan’s own comment that “It would be a grave injustice if the credit I have should have the effect of diminishing Danny Boyle’s magnificent achievement.” As if sharing the deserved credit diminishes what he accomplished? Doesn’t it diminish her role if she’s not included?

UPDATE from The Hot Pink Pen


VOYNARISTIC’s disagreement with with campaign.


  1. openchannel
    Feb 13, 2009

    Here’s a Hot Pink Pen update from Jan on the flack she’s been getting around this:

  2. Jan Lisa Huttner
    Feb 14, 2009

    Thank you SO MUCH for reaching out AND for completely understanding what I’ve been trying so hard to say!!!

    From my POV, co-credits for Danny Boyle & Loveleen Tandan on SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE enhance both reputations & diminish neither. But in our hyper-competitive “mano-a-mano” world, many, many people still seem to find the idea of genuine collaboration totally threatening! What a strange & disturbing experience at the end of the first decade of the 21st Century…

    But with open-hearted people like you on the case, I’m more confident than ever that we WILL get there someday.

    Happy Valentine’s Day from me, my hubby & our two cats 🙂

  3. Paul
    Feb 14, 2009

    You are right to be upset about the under representation of women at the top level of filmmaking and it is certainly reflected in the drabness of commercial film. If you are looking for a a positive example, there is Jane Campion, a New Zealand director whose film, The Piano, won many awards and who continues to produce wonderful films which are also commercial successful. Just thought I’ld add a positive note.

  4. sonia
    Feb 15, 2009

    I definitely think Tandan is being sidelined. There’s no way a person from the U.K., even Boyle who is so talented but unfamiliar with Hindi, could have directed those scenes with the children. Boyle may have known what he wanted to happen in the scenes…but that4 not the same as actually extracting those performances. He must’ve realised that very quickly… which is why as Tandan has herself said in interviews “as the shoot date was coming close, Boyle asked me to come on board and offered the co-diretor (India) credit”. Once you give a credit, you should stand by it and i, a huge fan of Boyle, am disappointed that he hasn’t done that. As for her, she probably doesn’t want to attract “negative” publicity….or like a lot of indian women (and i know cos i am one) suffers from low self esteem! As for the press she’s been getting, there’s hardly anything on this issue. It’s mostly profiling her work.

  5. openchannel
    Feb 15, 2009


    Wow, thanks for popping over. Yes, I do understand what you’re trying to say and some people don’t see it as an issue.

    Film sets are notoriously hierarchical, which I find annoying. I think collaboration is a more feminine way of doing things. I absolutely agree that co-credits should enhance reputations & diminish neither. Genuine collaboration is a beautiful thing… just look at how the film turned out, enhanced by the combination of skills.

    Happy Valentine’s Day back, from me, my hubby & OUR two cats!

  6. openchannel
    Feb 15, 2009


    Thanks for the positive note. I am totally optimistic knowing that more folks are becoming aware and questioning the status quo.

    I truly DO want to know how this has happened so we can change things. It’s not for lack of talent or training. Women tend to be OVERTRAINED as a matter of fact.

    There are lots of wonderful examples and I think Campion is one of them. She’s the only woman director to have won the Palme D’Or. There’s also the fabulous Julie Taymor, whose film Frida was nominated for 6 Oscars (although not for best director).

  7. openchannel
    Feb 15, 2009

    Hi Sonia, thanks for stopping by.

    You make a really great point. The direction of the Hindi children (who didn’t speak English) would not have been so successful without her.

    Kim Voyner reduces Tandan’s efforts by saying she “…was the casting director who offered some input that ultimately Boyle chose to listen to in shaping his film.” I think this totally diminished Tandan’s responsibility in shaping the film.

    Self-esteem is an issue in the collective consciousness of women. I have allowed my own struggles with it to diminish the worth of my own work. I think it is definitely a piece to this puzzle.

  8. sonia
    Feb 17, 2009

    Yes the self esteem issue is a piece to this puzzle, i’m sure. From Danny Boyle’s interviews, it’s clear that inputs also came from other people on his crew like the sound guy, A.D., etc. But they are not credited as co-directors! Kim V’s remark that Loveleen tandan gave “some input” and so has the credit goes to show that Voyner is probably unaware with how the film business runs! It had to be more than that, considering he asked her to become co-dir before starting shoot. You don’t get a credit as serious for nothing. My feeling strongly is it was the hindi children he needed her for. Thant’s quite a chunk and if i may add THE most beautiful chunk. I’m happy women like Jan Huttner are around to raise this!

  9. openchannel
    Feb 19, 2009

    Sonia – you are so right. Anyone in the industry knows that you don’t just hand out credits to be nice, especially a co-director credit. That’s a big deal… it acknowledges an invaluable contribution.

    I want to write a few more posts on this… in particular to some of the remarks Kim V makes.

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