Natalie Portman has fired back at activist Rose McGowan, who blasted her for faux activism stemming from the gesture of wearing a cape at the Academy Awards featuring the names of snubbed female directors.
McGowan said in a Facebook post Tuesday that Portman’s gesture was hollow and asked her to “stop pretending you’re some kind of champion for anything other than yourself.” McGowan said Portman has “worked with two female directors in your very long career- one of them was you.”
Portman’s Oscars outfit featured a cape embroidered with the names of Greta Gerwig (Little Women”), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Mati Diop (Atlantics), Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim), Alma Har’el (Honey Boy) and Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire).
“Some thoughts on Natalie Portman and her Oscar ‘protest,’” McGowan’s Facebook post said. “The kind of protest that gets rave reviews from the mainstream media for its bravery. Brave? No, not by a long shot. More like an actress acting the part of someone who cares. As so many of them do.”
Portman responded today with her own statement.
“I agree with Ms. McGowan that it is inaccurate to call me “brave” for wearing a garment with women’s names on it. Brave is a term I more strongly associate with actions like those of the women who have been testifying against Harvey Weinstein the last few weeks, under incredible pressure.
“The past few years have seen a blossoming of directing opportunities for women due to the collective efforts of many people who have been calling out the system. The gift has been these incredible films. I hope that what was intended as a simple nod to them does not distract from their great achievements.
“It is true I’ve only made a few films with women. In my long career, I’ve only gotten the chance to work with female directors a few times – I’ve made shorts, commercials, music videos and features with Marya Cohen, Mira Nair, Rebecca Zlotowski, Anna Rose Holmer, Sofia Coppola, Shirin Neshat and myself.
“Unfortunately, the unmade films I have tried to make are a ghost history.
“As Stacy Smith of USC has well documented, female films have been incredibly hard to get made at studios, or to get independently financed. If these films do get made, women face enormous challenges during the making of them. I have had the experience a few times of helping get female directors hired on projects which they were then forced out of because of the conditions they faced at work.
“After they are made, female-directed films face difficulty getting into festivals, getting distribution and getting accolades because of the gatekeepers at every level.
“So I want to say, I have tried, and I will keep trying. While I have not yet been successful, I am hopeful that we are stepping into a new day.”