Natalie Portman responds to Rose McGowan’s criticism of her Oscar nod to female directors

Natalie Portman’s subtle tribute to female filmmakers at the 2020 Oscars did not go over well with Rose McGowan, who called Portman’s show of support — wearing a cape with the names of women who directed films in the past year — “an actress acting the part of someone who cares.”

McGowan took to Facebook Tuesday with her thoughts, writing, “I find Portman’s type of activism deeply offensive to those of us who actually do the work. I’m not writing this out of bitterness, I am writing out of disgust. I just want her and other actresses to walk the walk.”

She described Portman’s effort as the “kind of protest that gets rave reviews from the mainstream media for its bravery.”

Portman responded to McGowan’s post in a statement issued Wednesday.

“I agree with Ms. McGowan that it is inaccurate to call me ‘brave’ for wearing a garment with women’s names on it,” Portman said in a statement to CNN. “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.”

She continued: “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.”

Portman also responded to McGowan’s claim that she had not worked on many films led by women.

“It is true I’ve only made a few films with women,” Portman said in the statement. “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.”

She added: “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.”

Portman’s cape was embroidered with the last names of a few female filmmakers who were overlooked in the best director category at the Academy Awards. She included Greta Gerwig for “Little Women,” Lorene Scafaria for “Hustlers” and Lulu Wang for “The Farewell,” among others.

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