From Red Sparrow to Lady Bird, it's time to celebrate International Women's Day
Award season may be coming to an end, but the celebration of women on an international scale is showing no signs of relenting any time soon. It's International Women's Day and never before has this anniversary been so prominent in the media, the public eye, and our mind's eye.
Determination to get our voices heard has been building momentum. With the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns spearheaded by celebrities continuing to take the spotlight, the mood for women is of unity and determination. Emma Watson even revealed a Times Up tattoo at the recent Vanity Fair Oscars After Party! The representation of women in the film industry, the media, and celebrity culture, has undeniable weight on the treatment of women on an international scale. From social media to TV to the films we watch, these 'ambassadors' are brought into our lives whether we like it or not. If these figures didn't lead the charge with these hashtag campaigns, or question why there aren't more female directors and producers receiving recognition and getting the same opportunities as men, who would speak up for them? It's voices such as theirs, and the media impact of a tattoo such as Emma's, that get people talking - in the film industry and beyond.
From Red Sparrow to Lady Bird, it's time to put a spotlight on female leads that are empowering. Role models we can actually relate to. Role models who are fearless and determined, but also real and vulnerable in their own ways! It's that powerful combination of vulnerability (which we should never shy away from or be ashamed of!) and strength in the face of it.
Looking to Lady Bird first, it's the coming-of-age film we all wish we could have seen at 14. Following the journey of protagonist Lady Bird, played by Saoirse Ronan, this film conveys the pressures of moving through adulthood, school, moving to college, first loves, losing your virginity, emotional ties, rejections, successes, highs, lows, acceptance, and family relationships. It's Ladybird's relationship with her strong-willed mother (Laurie Metcalf) that is arguably most poignant to the plot, as the two toy off each other's weaknesses, fears, and intense love for each other. It puts a much-needed spotlight on the expectations and pressures for girls in their teenage years, in what is so commonly a turbulent stage of growing up, with touching humour and a beautiful truthfulness. And why is Ladybird such a moving female protagonist? She's not afraid to pursue her dreams, in the face of doubts, set-backs, and pessimism from those around her. She's strong and ruthless, with her funny quirks, but has an innocence and an endearing realness too. Unsurprising, when directed by the outstanding Greta Gerwig - only the fifth woman to be nominated for Best Director at the Oscars. Before reading out the nominations for the Best Director this year, Emma Stone did not shy away from emphasising the apparent inequality here that Gerwig was up against; inequality which still exists in such a big way today. Yes, there has been progress. But there is a long way to go!
Looking next to the thriller of the season: Red Sparrow. Audiences can expect an equally inspiring female protagonist here, but one who displays fearlessness and kickass determination in a completely different way. Dubbed the ultimate girl power film, Red Sparrow shows how women should celebrate their strength, and their sexiness, without any shame. This film depicts a woman taking back control, and with internationally loved Jennifer Lawrence taking the helm, there's no doubt it will be a hit.
Films are just one medium through which women can project their stories, their voices, and hope to inspire change. At The Merit Club, we're celebrating Wonder Women from around the world, in films and beyond. We hope to inspire conversation, debate, and actions that we can all get behind and support.
Let's help build a community of like-minded women and celebrate women internationally, not just on one day of the year, but every day in whichever ways we can.