Patty Jenkins broke records with Wonder Woman, earning herself considerable Oscar buzz. Female storytellers dominated the 2017 Emmys, with Reed Morano, Lena Waithe and Ava DuVernay taking home key writing and directing awards. After her 1991 film Daughters of Dust was heavily sourced in Beyonce’s Lemonade, Julie Dash re-emerged with an episode of DuVernay’s Queen Sugar. As for DuVernay, she finished production of Disney’s upcoming A Wrinkle in Time, becoming the first woman of color to helm a $100 million movie. Meanwhile, Sofia Coppola became the second woman ever to win the Cannes Film Festival prize for Best Director for The Beguiled.
“It’s very empowering. I feel like I’m part of something so incredible right now because we’re taking our place in the world,” Blige says of women standing up and taking power and working on a project like the female-led Mudbound. “We are equals.”
As for Rees, she made sure Mudbound was full of women behind the camera, with Rachel Morrison (Dope, Fruitvale Station) handling cinematography, Mako Kamitsuna (Pariah) editing, Tamar-Kali (Bessie) composing music and Angie Wells (black-ish) leading the makeup department, among others. But Rees stresses they were hired “because they’re the best at what they can do,” she says, adding: “If you see a woman on set, you know she’s fought off 50 different people [versus] a guy on set. It could be his first time.”