Count ’em, James – 6 Oscars!

By admin
12 March 2010

When the organisers of this year’s Oscars asked Barbra Streisand to present the statuette for best director they knew they were setting up a potentially historic moment.

And when the diva ripped open the envelope and announced with a broad smile, “Well, the time has come,” the audience knew instantly: for the first time in the history of the Oscars a woman was about to be crowned best director.

They rose as one, turned to Kathryn Bigelow and gave her a standing ovation. It was after all International Women’s Day.

Director James Cameron, her ex-husband and the other hot favourite for the sought-after Oscar, playfully pretended to strangle her. Then he hugged her and there was nothing feigned about his delight.

Even though James hadn’t won the big award for Avatar, Kathryn, with her war movie The Hurt Locker, had finally done it for women after 82 years. Her film won five other Oscars compared with Avatar’s three.

What made the moment even more special was that Kathryn and James had been married 20 years ago. It was for only two years and they became friends again soon after their split but it must nevertheless have been painful for her when he dumped her for actress Linda Hamilton. Now she has trumped him at the Oscars.

If James was a little jealous he could take comfort in the fact movie-goers have turned Avatar into the biggest earner of all time (almost R2 billion to date). The Hurt Locker, about three bomb-disposal experts in Iraq, holds a less desirable record: it’s the movie that had earned the least when it won its Oscars.

Kathryn certainly isn’t a typical female director. Her movies are action-packed and testosterone-driven. But she denies she deliberately makes movies about macho men. “I choose my material instinctually – at the heart are characters who are fresh, who provide opportunities to explore unchartered ground.” Even the women in her films are seriously tough, such as Blue Steel’s Jamie Lee Curtis, who hunts a serial killer.

She doesn’t want to make a fuss about being the first female director to win an Oscar. “If there’s specific resistance to women making movies, I just choose to ignore that. I can’t change my gender and I refuse to stop making movies. It’s irrelevant who directed a movie; the important thing is that you either respond to it or you don’t.”

She’s not keen to talk about women’s rights but says, “The journey for women in many venues – be it politics, business, film – is a long and difficult struggle for equity.”

She hopes the small golden statuette would be the first of many. And her message to young filmmakersis, “Never give up your dream.”

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