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AMPAS Class of 2017 adds 18 new women directors to the Directors’ Branch

Every year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences invites new artists to join the different branches that make up the academy. Why does this matter? Oscar nominees for each category come directly from that branch (i.e. the Directors Branch members vote on who will be nominated for Best Director) while all members vote on the final ballot. 

The Academy as a whole has been criticized for its membership primarily made of older (over 60) white and male members. Last year represented the greatest push for diversity yet with a record number of white women and poc added across all branches. Of particular note to this blog was the fact that 52 women directors were added to the directors branch.

This year a smaller number of women directors were invited to join the branch: 18 out of 64 directors were women, and most of those were white. However a great number of the men invited to join the branch were men of colour and a the overwhelming percentage of directors were non-American once again representing an attempt by AMPAS to continue to diversify its branch. 

What will this mean in the future? It’s difficult to say. Nominees in the directing branch have remained overwhelmingly white and male for the last decade (Kathryn Bigelow, the only woman to win an Oscar is also the last woman to have been nominated for one back at the 2010 ceremony). And there’s no guarantees that non-American nominees will leap at a chance for membership at a prestige American institution (one of last year’s nominees, Argentinian director Lucrecia Martel, flatly rejected membership).

The invitees:

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Last night the Academy hosted a tribute to Producer / Director Richard Donner, who helmed such films as The Goonies, Superman, Lethal Weapon, and many others. On hand to praise him were those who have worked with him and those who have been inspired by his work. Top photo (l-r) Corey Feldman, Joseph Mazzello, Mel Gibson, John Savage, David Morse, Rene Russo, Lauren Shuler Donner, Richard Donner, Danny Glover,Geoff Johns, Carol Kane, Ke Huy Quan, Brian Helgeland, Kevin Feige and Jeff B. Cohen. 

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