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Meryl Streep infuriated by lack of diversity in film criticism


Story by Jack Foley

MERYL Streep has bemoaned the fact that most film critics are male.

Speaking at a press conference held ahead of the European premiere of her latest film, Suffragette, (which opened the 2015 London Film Festival), the Oscar-winning actress said that she found the imbalance between male and female journalists to be “infuriating”.

Citing the numbers of approved critics and bloggers on the influential Rotten Tomatoes website, she said she had found that 168 were women compared to 760 men.

She also pointed out that the New York Film Critics’ Circle had 37 men and only two women, before launching a wider tirade at the “lack of inclusion” of women in enterprises around the world.

“Men and women are not the same, sometimes their tastes diverge,” Streep said of film criticism and viewing habits. “The word isn’t disheartening It’s infuriating. People accept this as received wisdom… we need inclusion.”

And commenting on her latter point, she continued: “If men don’t look around the the board of governors table and feel something is wrong when half the people there are not women then we’re not going to make any progress.”

In Suffragette, Streep plays women’s rights activist Emmeline Pankhurst.

The period drama, which also stars Carey Mulligan, opened the London Film Festival on Wednesday.

Mulligan herself said the film was designed “to mark the achievement of what these women did and what they gave to us”. But she added it also had a lot of contemporary resonance: “It also highlights where we are in the world. We still live in a society that’s sexist.”

And the film’s female director, Sarah Gavron, said the idea of making a biopic of Emmeline Pankhurst had been considered, but that she deliberately didn’t want to tell the story of “an exceptional woman”.

Instead, the film focuses more on Mulligan’s character, a young East End laundry woman named Maud Watts who becomes an activist fighting to gain women the vote.

“What we were interested in is the story of the ordinary woman, the woman with no platform, no entitlement, the working class woman who is so often at the vanguard of change who rarely gets talked about. We thought that to follow that woman would make it connect with women all over the world today.”

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