UT needs to show movies with better female representation

Julia Zaksek

Editor's note: This column references the fall semester line-up for UT's Late Night Film Series.

Every semester, the Texas Union hosts a Late Night Film Series. The Showtime Committee, a student-run group that hosts television and film events, selects films it believes students will enjoy. The late-night screening offers students the opportunity to enjoy classic and popular films for free.

However, every movie in the series this fall was directed by a man, and nearly every film focused on male protagonists.

There is a sharp lack of female representation at one of the only events where UT students can enjoy free films. This lack of representation is discouraging for female students studying film. Next semester, the Union needs to include movies that tell the stories of women — films that are directed by women and that depict women accurately. 

Members of the Showtime Committee suggest films for the screenings, and then the committee votes to select eight for the late night screening schedule. Although a group of UT students is working to select the movies, the people in this group are not representative of the UT student population. 

“Students should have the opportunity to see all kinds of movies, movies that are created by and acted in by everyone,” said Ashley Griffith, a radio-television-film sophomore.  

Carter Spillyards, finance junior and chair of the Showtime Committee, says unlike the blockbuster film series, which shows films that were recently at the box office, the film options for the late-night screenings are virtually limitless.

“Members can suggest their favorite movies, movies they think people will really enjoy, movies that can start a dialogue between students or really creative events,” Spillyards said. 

Students have the opportunity to suggest films, but the decision is ultimately up to the committee. This semester, the committee, unfortunately, selected almost exclusively men-centric films. 

“Representation is important,” Griffith said. “Women in the entertainment industry contribute so much, and they often go unrecognized.” 

Neglecting to offer films created by women implies that stories that women create are not worth sharing with the UT community, and that they are less likable and less enjoyable than films created by men. 

When women direct films, center the movie and tell inclusive stories, their work should be shared, both for students’ enjoyment and encouragement. 

“As someone who is going into the entertainment industry as a woman, and even more specifically as a trans woman, I want to feel that I’m going into a field where my work will be recognized,” Griffith said. 

The Showtime Committee can’t choose which films come out of the box office, but it can control which films play at the late-night screenings. It needs to select female-centric films in order to actively recognize the stories of women and the ambitions of its female radio-television-film students.

Zaksek is a Plan II and women’s and gender studies freshman from Allen.