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Female film critics are still the minority. Here’s what Stylist is doing about it

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Megan Murray
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We’re on a mission to get more female film reviewer’s voices heard, and we want your help. 

As Meryl Streep (read: our spiritual leader) says, the word to describe the painfully low number of female film reviewers “isn’t disheartening – it’s infuriating.”

New research by USC Annenberg in LA shows that only a fifth of film critics are female, and of those only 4.1% are women of colour. These numbers are devastating, and it’s natural to feel angry in the face of discrimination. But you know what they say: don’t get mad, get even. Which is exactly what Stylist plans on doing.

Enter, Stylist’s Under Her Eye, a new female-lead film review series that creates more opportunities for female film reviewers to get their voices heard on our platforms. 

Stylist’s Editor-in-Chief, Lisa Smosarski, explains why this is so important in our new launch video (above). She says: “The majority of film reviews are through a male gaze. That means it’s a man writing about what the film is like from his own experience. They can tell you a lot of great things about life through a male lens…but they can’t tell you what it feels like to be a woman.

“All we really want is films reviewed from a female perspective.”

Stylist’s digital editor Kayleigh Dray and entertainment director Helen Bownass

Smosarki continues: “We want more women to come out and tell us what they think of film, and we will make sure that you hear all of those opinions first.”

The women of Hollywood have been voicing their frustration on this topic for some time. In June, Brie Larson announced in a passionate speech at the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards that the Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals will offer 20% additional film credentials to underrepresented journalists, while Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock called for more female film critics during their press interviews for Ocean’s 8. Their reasoning being that more diversity in criticism means that more diverse films will reach a wider audience.

This point is echoed by the words of Jessica Chastain (featured in the video above), as she says: “Critics are the ones who suggest to an audience what stories are valuable … we need more female critics to let women and men know stories about women are just as interesting as stories about men.”

We whole-heartedly agree, and so as part of our initiative we’re not only reviewing more films ourselves from a female perspective, but we’re looking for three new reviewers to join Stylist’s entertainment director Helen Bownass and digital editor Kayleigh Dray, too.

We’re asking applicants to send a 450-word review of your favourite film, plus a 300-600-word outline detailing why this role is so important to you, to underhereye@stylist.co.uk by midnight on 31 August.

Brie Larson at the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards

The winners will be invited to a photo shoot and mentoring day with the Stylist team in October, before being launched as fully fledged critics across the Stylist platforms at the beginning of November.

As part of the Under Her Eye initiative, they will attend screenings and film festivals, as well as write and publish paid film reviews in Stylist and on stylist.co.uk. The prize also includes a Membership Plus card for Picturehouse Cinemas.

So what are you waiting for? If you love film and want to be heard, now’s your chance to become part of the Stylist team as a film critic.

You can see the full terms and conditions for the competition here.

Stylist’s Under Her Eye competition will open on stylist.co.uk at 11am GMT on 7 August 2018.

Images: Getty 

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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