As Disney prepares yet another live-action adaptation, Hollywood Reporter confirms that the new Mulan will be directed by Niki Caro. Hired from a shortlist of several female directors, Caro is set to be (only) the second woman at Disney and the fourth woman ever to direct a movie with a budget over $100 million.
She follows in the Disney footsteps of Netflix documentary 13th director Ava DuVernay, at the helm of the studio's upcoming A Wrinkle in Time, and joins the ranks of Patty Jenkins and Kathryn Bigelow, no less.
Gender discrimination in Hollywood lives on
According to Variety, only 7% of directors working on 2016's 250 highest-grossing films were women. Although TV is doing a bit better, white men are still directing more than two-thirds of all installments, based on statistics from the Directors Guild of America.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been investigating discriminatory hiring practices in the movie industry, interviewing more than 100 female directors since October 2015 in a bid to shake up the status quo.
Filmmaker Rachel Feldman, spoke out about President Trump's stance on the matter, particularly on selecting Victoria Lipnic as acting chair of the EEOC:
"We're all very concerned that Trump's new picks are going to keep the EEOC from getting behind women directors and recognizing that the pattern of gender discrimination in Hollywood warrants government legal action."
LucasFilm CEO Kathleen Kennedy was the subject of heated criticism on the matter when she suggested the difficulty of hiring female directors for the Star Wars franchise. However, if LucasFilm is being understandably cautious, it doesn't explain the rest of the industry's discrimination.
Caro's involvement in Mulan shows a step in the right direction, as Disney are showing a more inclusive policy, especially with the upcoming release of its first female-led superhero movie, Captain Marvel in 2019.
Although Caro was originally on the shortlist to direct the feature, rumors now suggest Homeland main director Lesli Linka Glatter and Lorene Scafaria, at the helm of off-beat indie classics Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.
Although the road ahead is still long, the inclusion of women off-screen accompanying female protagonists on screen is encouraging. What Elsa started, Moana continued, and Mulan will carry on into 2018.