The films of the Star Wars franchise are the most groundbreaking films in the history of Cinema. Lucasfilm has not only revolutionized filmmaking and the business of Hollywood once but twice. And possibly even a third time with The Force Awakens, as the franchise seems to have cracked the formula for the requel, a film that is both a sequel and a revival of a franchise simultaneously.
Selecting a director to helm a Star Wars film in this new era of the franchise is an arduous process. The franchise is moving into unknown territory as it moves the Skywalker saga forward with a new trilogy while at the same time expanding the universe with standalone features that spin-off from the Skywalker saga. The right director for these new films has to not only be a true fan whose genuine passion will shine through, but they also have to be able to separate themselves as a fan of the material. On top of that, the right director has to be able to handle the tremendous pressure and scrutiny that comes with the crafting a Star Wars film which can only be learned from the experience of already directing a blockbuster feature within the current studio system.
Earlier this week, President of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy made headlines when she was quoted stating that at this point in time, no women directors in Hollywood were yet ready to take on a feature in the Star Wars franchise.
Today at the press conference for the upcoming Star Wars spin-off Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Kennedy was asked about her position on a woman director by Screencrush’s Erin Whitney to which she offered some candid clarification:
The Star Wars films have done a lot for female characters and female heroes, but the movies have yet to have a female director. You recently said that a woman who has no experience with blockbusters wasn’t suitable to direct a star wars movie, however multiple male directors have had that opportunity. So why is it different for women and —
That’s not true. This gentleman (points to Gareth) did Godzilla before we hired him to direct the movie. And that quote was taken out of context. And I, as you can imagine, have every intention of giving somebody an opportunity. So, if somebody actually moves through the process of making movies and wants to make a Star Wars movie, and shows that they have actually stepped into the role on that level, of course we’re going to consider a woman. That goes without saying.
Can you name any female directors that you think have potential to direct a Star Wars movie?
There are many. And I’ve talked to most of them. There are many out there.
While diversity continues to be a major issue in Hollywood, the subject of gender when it comes to directing a Star Wars feature is irrelevant. An individual’s race, gender, creed, or sexuality doesn’t factor into the process when Lucasfilm selects a director. It is based purely on experience and whether or not the individuals possesses the ability and the passion required for crafting the kind of quality film Disney is known for as well as a film that Star Wars fans deserve.
Chances are the first female to direct a Star Wars feature will be Ava Duvernay. Duvernay has already cut her teeth with Selma and is currently helming a new film version of A Wrinkle in Time for Disney. It was also revealed on the DVD commentary for The Force Awakens by JJ Abrams that Duvernay supplied him with the idea for one of the film’s most powerful scenes: when Rey closed her eyes to focus on the strength within her to harness the force so that she could defeat Kylo Ren in their duel on Starkiller Base.
Lucasfilm will most likely wait to see how A Wrinkle in Time fares but given the relationship with Disney as well as her contribution to The Force Awakens, Duvernay is in a better position to land the gig more than anyone.