While the upcoming movie The Zookeeper's Wife is notable because of the particularly heartbreaking story, there's another reason people are buzzing about its Friday release. The film, which stars Jessica Chastain as Antonina Zabinski, has a strong female cast supported by a strong female crew. It's directed by Niki Caro and adapted by Angela Workman from the book written by Diane Ackerman. That's a rare thing in Hollywood, and worth celebrating. But in a video for Vanity Fair, Chastain opened up about how the press tour hasn't been entirely satisfying, since interviewers keep asking the same sexist question.
"So many of the questions I was getting from the press was about fighting on set—’Was it tough to be on set with all those girls?’" she said. "I wasn’t getting those questions with any of the other movies that I’d been involved with."
That tells you everything you need to know about what Hollywood thinks of women: that they can't be in the same room without fighting, that they're naturally in competition with one another, that there can't be more than one. This perception is the root of why women face such limited opportunities in film and TV.
"I think there’s so few female filmmakers because the industry doesn’t nurture them," Chastain explains. "There are a lot of female filmmakers in film school, and then they disappear. And I don’t think that’s because of their desire. I think that’s because they find themselves in an industry that doesn’t see them."
Even Chastain felt herself internalizing this sexism, growing up with the myth that women don't work well together. However, she's using her career to prove it wrong. She makes the effort to take strong female roles in productions led by powerful women. Her next film, Woman Walks Ahead, is also directed by a woman, and she accepts roles that portray women as dynamic characters. Because, you know, they are.