This Changes Everything (2018)

This Changes Everything
Director: Tom Donahue
Seen on: 15.3.2020

The documentary looks at gender imbalance and discrimination in the film industry, especially the huge shift in awareness that has occurred in recent years over how the representation of women and also people of color in front and behind the camera is seriously wonky.

This Changes Everything is a good primer for people for people who haven’t yet really thought about the issues it touches on. It gives a good overview for the situation in Hollywood and while it may be a little too optimistic in the end, this is actually pretty nice.

The film poster showing a film role that is extended into a venus sign.

I guess, I’m a specialist in the field of the documentary: I’m a visual sociologist and I was part of a two-person team handling the gender data analysis for the Austrian film business. Also, feminism and pop culture is my passion topic as this blog is evidence of. So it’s probably no surprise that I knew a lot of the things that the film talks about already: the systematic discrimination of everybody who is not a straight, white, abled, cis man; the numbers that consistently hover around the same percentages for such a long time now; the sexist portrayal of women in front of the camera that starts with the sexualization of girl and never really stops.

For me, the most interesting part here – because I knew very little to nothing about it – were the legal proceedings in the USA that are trying to increase pressure on the decision makers to actually do something about the disparity the numbers show so plainly. At the same time, that is the part with the least international application (probably), whereas everything else is surprisingly equal between Hollywood and the Austrian film industry (that I know best).

Geena Davis interviewed in the documentary.

They did find a lot of great and well-known people to interview here who have a lot to say about the topic. And I liked that while the focus is clearly on gender (and mostly in the binary), they tried to also include the perspective of people, especially women, of color. [That the German dub consistently used the translation “farbig” for that – basically “colored” was less great.]

The movie ends on a high note, proclaiming a great moment of change and feminist activism. And maybe it’s the perspective of two, three years later without much change having occurred, but I thought the optimism here, while appreciated, was a little much. There is a lot of feminist activism and awareness, but we are far from that activism actually taking over power structures and implementing widespread change, I’m afraid. Still, it was nice that the film didn’t end on a downer, but on a call to action. That is always good.

Taraji P. Henson interviewed in the documentary.

Summarizing: good documentary.

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