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Sarah Polley Expertly Addressed the Academy’s Lack of Female Representation at the Oscars

Polley won for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Women talking

The 2023 Academy Awards brought a big night for Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley, who won the award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the movie Women Talking.

Inspired by a true story, the movie, which was adapted from the 2018 novel of the same name by Miriam Toews, is centered on a group of women in a Mennonite community who come together to speak out about the horrific sexual assault and gaslighting they have endured at the hands of the men in their community. Women Talking, featuring an incredible cast of Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Frances McDormand and more, is a harrowing yet important watch about how women are treated in religious communities, as well as society in general, and the fact that it gained recognition during the 95th Academy Awards was major.

Polley also knew the significance of the win as she took to the stage at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, stating in her speech, “First of all, I just want to thank the Academy for not being mortally offended by the words ‘women’ and ‘talking’ put so close together like that.” As the audience laughed, she continued, “Miriam Toews wrote an essential novel about a radical democracy in which people who don’t agree on every single issue managed to sit together in a room and carve out a way forward together free of violence. They do so not just by talking but also by listening.”

The win comes after weeks of angered discussion about the ceremony’s all-male Best Director category. With even Polley being snubbed for her incredible directing work for Women Talking, the nominees in the list included The Banshees of Inisherin‘s Martin McDonagh, The Fabelmans’ Steven Spielberg, Tár’s Todd Field, Triangle of Sadness’ Ruben Östlund, and eventual winners Everything Everywhere All at Onces Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.

Frustratingly, in the Oscars’ 95-year history, only three women have won the Best Director category, including Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, Chloé Zhao for Nomadland, and Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog. The facts and figures are appalling but not shocking, and I can only encourage the Academy to give credit where it’s due and finally reward all those extraordinary female visionaries.

(featured image: United Artists Releasing)

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