Ana Lily and Sofia and the Diversity Issue — Jennifer Merin comments

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Ana Lily Amirpour and Sofia Coppola are female directors whose unique perspectives in filmmaking have attached the term auteur to their names and bodies of work. Yet, both directors are being tagged as ‘racist’ in criticism of their current productions. Continue reading…

Amirpour is the subject of massive controversy on the Internet, stemming from an incident at a post-screening Q&A re The Bad Batch, her current release, a dystopian vampire thriller. According to reports, Amirpour has been accused of being racist because she was (allegedly) disrespectful towards a woman of color who asked a question about characters of color in The Bad Batch, and why they are all killed off in the film. Amirpour’s answer was deemed dismissive by the questioner, who complained about it on the Internet. Amirpour, who was shocked by the complaint and accusation, has since responded to the flap with a reasonable explanation about her work and purpose.

Similarly, Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled has been criticized because the director chose in her revisioning of the 1971 antebellum thriller to eliminate the slave, a woman of color, from her cast of characters. Like Amirpour, Coppola has been called upon to explain, justify and defend her choices.

Details of the controversies are readily available elsewhere, so let’s skip to the issue at hand. The instant controversies poses an interesting question about the current mandate and expectation for inclusion and how the quest for diversity in media impacts or would/should determine/influence artistic vision. And whether the demand for diversity actually splinters the movement for inclusion. The latter consideration is almost taboo at the moment– nobody seems to want to think through the divide-and-conquer prospectus.

Statements from auteurs Amirpour and Coppola indicate that they don’t consider ‘inclusion’ as a major player in their character development or casting considerations.

Should artists be held to justifiable and much needed social mandates for inclusion and diversity, and how are we to measure personal artistic statements in the presence of those pressing social mandates? Comments welcome.

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