Women vs Hollywood

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What to expect

‘A fascinating polemic’ Sunday Times
‘A powerful, sobering and vital work’ The Mail on Sunday
‘A page-turning read, peppered with humour’ Sight & Sound
‘A must read‘ Edgar Wright

A call to arms from Empire magazine’s ‘geek queen’, Helen O’Hara, that explores women’s roles both in front of and behind the camera since the birth of Hollywood, how those roles are reflected within wider society and what we can do to level the playing field.

Hollywood was born just over a century ago, at a time of huge forward motion for women’s rights. With no rules in place to stop them, there were women who forged ahead in many areas of filmmaking. Yet, despite the work of early pioneers like Dorothy Arzner, Mabel Normand, Mary Pickford and Alice Guy-Blach√©, it soon came to embody the same old sexist standards. Women found themselves fighting a system that fed on their talent, creativity and beauty but refused to pay them the same respect as their male contemporaries – until now . . .

The tide has finally begun to turn. A new generation of women, both in front of and behind the camera, are making waves in the industry and are now shaping some of the biggest films to hit our screens.

In Women vs Hollywood: The Fall and Rise of Women in Film, film critic Helen O’Hara takes a closer look at the pioneering and talented women of Hollywood and their work in film since Hollywood began. And in understanding how women were largely written out of Hollywood’s own origin story, and how the films we watch are put together, we can finally see how to put an end to a picture that is so deeply unequal – and discover a multitude of stories out there just waiting to be told.

Critics Review

  • A fascinating polemic

    Sunday Times
  • A page-turning read, peppered with humour

    Sight & Sound
  • Women vs Hollywood is encyclopaedic, illuminating and passionate all at once, and O’Hara’s erudition and love of film shine throughout

    Sunday Independent
  • A must read

    Edgar Wright
  • Women vs Hollywood is fascinating and righteous. The research is incredible, as is the storytelling. It’ll be a game changer for how the history of women in film is considered and told. The history is rich and deep and robust, but O’Hara also has such a precise point of view. An incredible piece of work that is as inspiring as it is informative

    Terri White, editor-in-chief of Empire and author of Coming Undone
  • I will be quoting this liberally on Girls On Film – it’s an enlightening page-turner, stacked with stories and stats that will have your jaw on the floor. Thanks to O’Hara’s thorough research and sparkling writing, it works as an engaging alternative history of Hollywood as well as an important feminist film text and a call to action. I’d recommend it to any open-minded film lover, whether or not they identify as feminist – and who knows, they might do by the end

    Anna Smith, film critic, broadcaster and host of the Girls On Film podcast

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