17 Women That Could Direct The Next 'Star Wars' Film
I am one of those women who is sincerely excited to see Star Wars: Rogue One , with a rebellious woman at the center and a diverse groups of heroes saving the universe. Rogue One is the latest in a series of progressive creative choices the Star Wars franchise has taken, telegraphing to its audiences that yes, this is a sci-fi franchise that embraces modernity. When it comes to contemplating the next big creative step, one might look at the voices telling the Star Wars stories. Those voices begin behind the camera; specifically, the director. Would Star Wars ever consider hiring a female director?
In an interview published over the Thanksgiving holiday at Variety, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy stated a desire to hire a female director for a Star Wars film, but that there were complicated factors currently in play:
We want to make sure that when we bring a female director in to do “Star Wars,” they’re set up for success. They’re gigantic films, and you can’t come into them with essentially no experience. We want to really start to focus in on people we would love to work with and see what kinds of things they’re doing to progress up that ladder now, and then pull them in when the time is right.
I understand Kennedy's argument and I empathize with her. Making a Star Wars film comes with a big budget and even bigger expectations, both from the fans and the studio. Hiring a female director to helm the next installment of the Star Wars franchise shouldn't be done simply to tick a box or sooth those people who cry out for inclusivity. Instead, it should be about recognizing that the last two Star Wars films, The Force Awakens and Rogue One, both have female leads who are leading movements and inciting change. Previous to that, both Princess Leia and Princess Amidala embodied strong, empowered female archetypes that have bolstered the notion that Star Wars is a forward-thinking film franchise.
Indeed, the future of Star Wars is feminist; a qualified female director who is able to transition into this world of a big budget, sci-fi action film exists to brighten and carry those feminist values into the next film without sacrificing the masculine heroism that has become ubiquitous with the Star Wars name. Filling the director's chair should not be done carelessly. But I contend that there are plenty of female directors who have varying levels of experience (similar to Rian Johnson's, a notable indie director, path before he got hired for Star Wars: Episode VIII ) and excel in numerous genres that would be perfect in giving a fresh perspective to the nearly 40-year-old franchise. Here are some of those unique female directors worth short-listing ASAP.
1. Patty Jenkins
Currently tapped as the director of the Wonder Woman film due in 2017, Jenkins is no stranger to working with major studios. She knows how to bring together the expectations of both a studio and a fandom while creating an enthralling story.
2. Michelle MacLaren
MacLaren, whose work you may have seen as recently as the penultimate episode of Westworld's first season on HBO, carries serious heft in television. Her direction on episodes of Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones prove MacLaren understands the intricacies of bring big franchises to life and carrying on complicated narrative threads with ease.
3. Marielle Heller
Heller would be an exciting change-up in the voices telling the Star Wars story. Her direction of the profound, adult, and intricate film The Diary of a Teenage Girl is a must-see. She's a fresh voice that could help in the shaping of the feminist Star Wars future the franchise faces.
4. Ana Lily Amirpour
Amirpour is, in short, fearless. She wrote and directed the dark, brooding, and very feminist horror film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and her post-apocalyptic cannibal love story, The Bad Batch, is awaiting release. Amirpour isn't afraid to get gruesome but she also understands what makes people tick; she could give a serious injection of grit to a Star Wars film.
5. Kimberly Peirce
Peirce, whose work on Boys Don't Cry shot her into the limelight, is a valuable voice in directing. She made the successful transition from indie film to studio-backed films with Carrie and Stop-Loss. She is adept at a range of genres and has proven awards and box-office draw.
6. Andrea Arnold
An English director at her roots (thanks to modern treats Fish Tank and Wuthering Heights), Arnold's successful stateside transition with American Honey proves she is a strong voice for female stories but is no less capable of adapting time-worn stories and traditional dynamics for audiences that crave something new.
7. Sofia Coppola
Coppola would give a softer lens to the Star Wars canon, but that doesn't mean she can't pack a punch in her storytelling. Coppola is a natural choice for directing diverse casts and for directing women, but her ability to surprise audiences by bringing something youthful and inviting to cinemas has been proven in films like Marie Antoinette, The Bling Ring, and soon, The Beguiled.
8. Jill Soloway
Soloway would be an intriguing swerve from traditional action and sci-fi directors, but she is nonetheless supremely qualified (and who doesn't like a wildcard every now and then?). Soloway's work on Six Feet Under, Transparent, and I Love Dick mark her as a director who understands human drama and extensive, epic narrative construction.
9. Kathryn Bigelow
A longstanding heavyweight in Hollywood, Bigelow is best known as the director of Point Break, The Hurt Locker, and Zero Dark Thirty. She carries a big seal of approval from the studios and is one of the few women who consistently directs in genres (e.g. action) often attributed to men.
10. Karyn Kusama
Kusama is an well-established director in Hollywood who has a bonfide series of studio hits under her belt, including The Invitation and Jennifer's Body, as well as her work in television thrillers The Man in the High Castle and Billions make her a perfect candidate for a potential Star Wars film director.
11. Lynne Ramsay
Lynne Ramsay is no stranger to telling human stories in a gripping fashion, an element that can often be found in the Star Wars films. Her work on We Need to Talk About Kevin, as both writer and director, is nothing short of noteworthy in this regard.
12. S.J. Clarkson
S.J. Clarkson is largely a television director with serious heft in directing action, sci-fi, and superhero stories. She's already a go-to for Marvel Studios (who, along with Lucasfilm, fall under the Disney umbrella) and would fit right into the Star Wars vision. Her credits directing episodes of The Defenders, Jessica Jones, Orange Is the New Black, and Vinyl should earn her a place at the Star Wars table.
13. Lucia Aniello
The Broad City producer has served as writer and director for the Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobsen vehicle. Aniello is a proven voice in comedy who would hold serious appeal to fans of Broad City and audiences that like material that pushes boundaries.
14. Jamie Babbit
Perhaps best known for the queer coming-of-age comedy But I'm a Cheerleader, Babbit has been body of work as intersectional and feminist as it is mainstream. With recent credits including Girls, Divorce, Silicon Valley, and Supergirl, Babbit has consistently proven she's adept as directing in a variety of genres and styles.
15. Jane Campion
Campion's body of work spans more than twenty years. As a seasoned director, her work on Top of the Lake, In the Cut, and The Piano prove Campion has a sympathetic eye towards female stories, is capable of telling complex stories, and is comfortable working with big studios to create compelling drama.
16. Amy Poehler
Poehler would offer the box-office draw often so vital to studio considerations. Furthermore, her experience in both comedy and drama would be channeled to handle the highs and lows that comes with spinning a Star Wars yarn.
17. Anna Rose Holmer
The indie director of the intriguing, low-budget psychological thriller The Fits is experienced in working with a majority female cast. Hiring her would mean the studio would take a risk on a new voice in film, just as big-budget chances were given to Colin Trevorrow for Jurassic Park and Josh Trank for Fantastic Four.
Finding the right director for any film in not an easy task. The decisions a studio faces when finding a director for the right project come with plenty of considerations. But if I could, I would gently plea to Lucasfilm to consider the aforementioned female directors. They are worth their salt and are the match of any male director currently in consideration.
Images: Lucasfilm/Walt Disney Studios