Natalie Portman has defended her choice to wear a cape embroidered with the names of female filmmakers who were not nominated at the Oscars, saying it was “a simple nod” to highlight gender inequality in Hollywood.
The Dior outfit the star wore on Sunday at the Oscars has divided opinion on social media, while actress and activist Rose McGowanexpressed her “disgust” at Portmanand accused her of “acting the part of someone who cares”.
McGowan, 46, dismissed the Oscarsgesture as a “protest that gets rave reviews from the mainstream media” and said Portman had only worked with two female directors during her “very long career – one of them was you”.
She added: “I was at a Women in Film event that you spoke at once, Natalie. You reeled off depressing statistics and then we all went back to our salads.
“I quickly realised you and the other women speakers (and that joke of an organization) are just… frauds. You say nothing, you do nothing.”
Portman, who won the best actress Oscar for her performance in Black Swan in 2011, has now issued a statement in response.
The 38-year-old said she agreed with McGowan that it would be wrong to call her cape statement “brave”, saying she associates the term with the women testifying in court against Harvey Weinstein.
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The disgraced former producer is currently on trial facing five charges relating to two accusers, and could face life in prison if found guilty.
McGowan was one of the first women to publicly accuse him of sexual assault, helping to spark the #MeToo movement.
In her statement, Portman paid tribute to female directors of the past years, saying: “I hope that what was intended as a simple nod to them does not distract from their great achievements.”
She conceded it was true she had only made “a few” films with women, but said she has had experience of helping female filmmakers get hired on projects only for them to be “forced out” because “of the conditions they faced at work”.
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She added: “After they are made, female-directed films face difficulty getting into festivals, getting distribution and getting accolades because of the gatekeepers at every level.”
She finished her statement by saying: “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.”
The Anatomy Of An Oscar Winner
Portman arrived on the red carpet at the Oscars wearing a black Dior cape featuring the names of female directors who made films last year, including Hustlers’ Lorene Scafaria, The Farewell’s Lulu Wang, Little Women’s Greta Gerwig, A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood’s Marielle Heller, Honey Boy’s Alma Har’el, Portrait Of A Lady On Fire’s Celine Sciamma, Atlantic’s Mati Diop and Queen & Slim’s Melina Matsoukas.
In 92 years of the Academy Awards only one woman has ever won the award for best director – Kathryn Bigelow, for The Hurt Locker, in 2010. This year, there were no women in the running.
It was the least diverse line-up since the #OscarsSoWhite backlash in 2016, after which the film academy diversified its membership.