Connecticut College Magazine · Spring 2010


students try belly dancing at an international lunch last semester. Photo by Bob Handelman.

Past Issues

Contact Us

Address Change

College Homepage

Pushing the Envelope

Film industry veterans reflect on gender and ´The Hurt Locker´

By Areti Sakellaris ´08

"The Hurt Locker,” an independent film about an Army bomb squad unit in Iraq, came to life beyond the borders of Hollywood studios.

But Hollywood insiders were quick to embrace the critically acclaimed film, showering it with six Oscars — including best picture of 2009 and, most notably, best director for Kathryn Bigelow, the first female director to receive that honor.

“This is a cultural milestone long, long overdue,” says Judy Irving ´68, director of independent documentaries like “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill” and the in-production “Pelican Dreams.”

Nina Sadowsky ´79, a screenwriter, producer and adjunct professor at the University of Southern California´s School of Cinematic Arts, agrees.

“Like anyone who crosses a barrier, whether it is one of race, gender or anything else, being ´the first´ is in and of itself notable,” Sadowsky says, adding that Bigelow was also the first woman to win the Director´s Guild Award.

Irving, a Bay Area filmmaker, finds it “demoralizing” that so many Hollywood productions are geared toward males ages 13-18. Sadowsky adds that women face a “subtle difficulty” in hiring because men maintain the majority of that responsibility.

"“The movies reflect the culture,” Hollywood producer Wallis Nicita ´67 agrees. “In movies, boys rule.” Living and working in Hollywood circles, Nicita is a long way from her first job, teaching in New York City. “I couldn´t believe that after all this time, no woman had actually ever won an Oscar for directing before. … It´s mind-blowing how few women determine what´s going on creatively.”

Even when they are calling the shots, female directors may feel some pressure to stick to limited subject matter. Though “The Hurt Locker” fits with the body of Bigelow´s work, Sadowsky says her proclivity for “masculine” material is regarded as “anomalous” in the industry.

“I think women should not be ghetto-ized into dealing with female characters or subjects,” Sadowsky says. “´The Hurt Locker´ was such a ´masculine´ film, not what might be considered a more ´typically female´ film — romantic comedy, family drama, etc. — it had an impact.”

Irving says any director strives to have a meaningful voice and to create “a great experience” — both of which Bigelow succeeds in doing in “The Hurt Locker.” Her win calls attention to the efforts of women as they individually pursue their own aspirations and reinforces solidarity.

“I have always subscribed to the operating belief that if one door is closed, just go knock on another,” Sadowsky says, “and so I have tried not to be limited in any of my endeavors by gender.”

Connecticut College Magazine

This page maintained by College Relations <>
General Feedback
Copyright © 2017