Following months of headlines discussing gender inequality in Hollywood, the nonprofit Women in Film gathered A-listers to celebrate and discuss just that at their 40th annual Crystal + Lucy Awards, held June 12 at the Beverly Hilton.
Jenna Elfman, who hosted the event for the second time, kicked things off with a light-hearted spin on a startling film statistic.
But the tides seem to be turning. On the red carpet, Elfman, as well as actress Laura San Giacomo, Sofia Coppola (whom Nancy Meyers was presenting with the Dorothy Arzner Directors Award) and others said that the increase of women at the studio level could lead to more creative projects by women.
George Lucas, whose own studio's president Kathleen Kennedy honored him with the Norma Zarky Humanitarian Award, said, "It's hard in the film business -- it's hard in any business -- but I know it's harder for you.
"I feel extremely confidant that you will win," he added. "That eventually you will control at least 50% of the world."
"Fruitvale Station" cinematographer Rachel Morrison, receiving the Kodak Vision Award, said she'd just shot a commercial with a female director, production designer, gaffer and first assistant director.
"And it wasn't even for Tampax," Morrison joked.
Morrison and others also spoke of the women whose career choices inspired them to get into the film business. In this category, Elfman and Debra Messing both mentioned Holly Hunter. And how does Hunter feel about that?
"Are you kidding?" she replied, flabbergasted. "Wow. That's really cool. It's not anything I ever set out to do."
Hunter was there to honor her "Top of the Lake" costar Elisabeth Moss and the other actresses of "Mad Men" with the Lucy Award. Named for Lucille Ball, the award is given to women (and men) who have enhanced the perception of women in television.
"The show is titled 'Mad Men,' but without these women, the guys would be just a bunch of desperate masturbators in great suits," Hunter said of the envelope-pushing AMC drama.
Laura Linney, honored with the Crystal Award for excellence in film, said it wasn't enough just to be an inspiration. Successful women should also mentor the next generation.
"As an actress in film, it is very easy to become isolated just due to the gender inequality that exists," she said, then advised, "reach out to a younger actress or junior executive or crew person or office worker or student. Take them to lunch. Put in time to talk and learn what they are encountering. Listen to their observations; share with them your insight, your mistakes. And share information so that our experiences are not wasted."
Hailee Steinfeld was also honored, with the Max Mara Face of the Future award.