Cucalorus 24 Review: “This Changes Everything”



Still from This Changes Everything.

Veronica Wernicke, Opinion Editor

50 percent of films shown at Cucalorus are made by women. Sadly, that isn’t the case everywhere else.   

I was brought to tears by “This Changes Everything,” Tom Donahue’s documentary about the representation and misrepresentation of women in Hollywood.

So many times in Hollywood movies, we have seen women as the girlfriends, sidekicks or nonessential characters in comparison to their male counterparts. For many years women have been trying to fix this issue.

With interviews from well-known celebrities like Jessica Chastain, Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Rose McGowan, Rashida Jones, Patty Jenkins and Yara Shahidi we get personal accounts of just how much of an issue equality in Hollywood is. They note that the young children watching Hollywood movies see that women get to be the girlfriend while the men get to be things like astronauts and bigwigs. Which is anything but true.  

In addition, alarming statistics like 90 percent of writing in the top 100 movies of 2017 were by men and men get twice the speaking time as women in films, take you aback.

Various women in the documentary also bring up there have been many what they thought would be “this changes everything” moments in Hollywood with films like “Thelma and Louise,” which got great responses at the box offices from its message of you can have power as women. Despite their hopes, none have lasted long enough to truly change everything.

Donahue’s documentary conveys how Hollywood presents roadblocks for women storytellers. In fact, many of the actors noted they could count the number of female directors they had worked with on their hand. I believe the highest number someone mentioned was three.

The documentary not only shares recent accounts of women’s representation in Hollywood but also walks us through the history and how things have changed throughout the years.

It also touches on how in early Hollywood this wasn’t the case. There was actually an overwhelming number of women writing, directing and starring in the silent films being produced. However, that all changed when sound came into the picture and big production companies took over and started shutting out these women — women like Lois Weber.

A big takeaway from this documentary was that if you aren’t trying to actively hire more women — in roles, crew, production — then you are part of the problem.

Donahue closes his documentary with a call to action. He notes that people have to take risks and take action to hire more women. He also notes that consumers have the power to go and see more movies by women and better represent women. We have to commit to 50/50.

We all need to become more aware of the films we are supporting and choosing to go see at the theater. Donahue isn’t saying to stop seeing great films made by men, instead, he is saying that you need to be more aware and seek out more films made by women and that have better roles for women. 

We have to commit to 50/50.

Everyone needs to see “This Changes Everything.” It is such a well-done documentary and leaves you wanting to take immediate action. Before seeing this documentary I thought I knew about the representation and misrepresentation of women in Hollywood, but I didn’t know the full extent and history behind it all.