Angelina Jolie releases 'By the Sea,' as lack of female directors stirs discussion

Jolie is one of the most high-profile female directors working today. Meanwhile, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission is interviewing female directors about possible discrimination.

Merrick Morton/Universal Pictures/AP
'By the Sea' stars Brad Pitt (l.) and Angelina Jolie (r.).

Actress Angelina Jolie’s newest directing effort, “By the Sea,” will hit theaters on Nov. 13. 

“Sea” stars Jolie and Brad Pitt as a married couple who are living in Malta in the 1970s and struggling in their marriage. The new movie follows Jolie’s last film that she directed, the 2014 movie “Unbroken,” which was based on the nonfiction bestseller of the same name and told the story of Louis Zamperini and his experiences in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp during World War II. The inspiring story was released during the holidays last year and did well at the box office, though reviews were mostly negative.

Jolie’s previous directing work also includes the 2011 movie “In the Land of Blood and Honey.” She has starred in many films, including the 2014 Disney box office hit “Maleficent,” and won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work in the movie “Girl, Interrupted.”

Many reviews for “Sea” have not been released yet, but those that have been published have been mostly negative. Variety critic Justin Chang writes that the movie “struggles to turn its own beautiful inertia into a virtue… meandering and overlong… the film ultimately feels too dramatically reductive and obvious to pull off its desired cocktail of Albee and Antonioni.” Todd McCarthy of the Hollywood Reporter came to a similar conclusion, writing that “two hours is far too long to make an audience wait for a payoff that is hardly about to save the film from its own stasis and dramatic flatness.” 

Jolie releases her newest movie as a possible lawsuit against the film industry concerning the lack of female film and TV directors moves forward. Last month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency, began speaking with various female directors to see if there is reason for a class-action lawsuit concerning discrimination against women working as directors. Earlier this year, the ACLU encouraged the EEOC to examine the lack of women directors in Hollywood. 

In 2014, fewer than five percent of the big studio movies were directed by women and 16 percent of the TV directing jobs were given to women. 

Director Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the best director Oscar for her 2008 movie “The Hurt Locker” and is still the only one to have received the honor. Some believed director Ava DuVernay would receive a directing nomination for her work on the 2014 film “Selma,” but she did not make the list, an omission that angered many. “Selma” was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. 

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