Dame Helen Mirren certainly had something to say at the Empire Awards in London. Photo: Getty Images
British actress Helen Mirren has taken to task filmmaker Sam Mendes for failing to mention any women as influences during an acceptance speech at a British awards ceremony, a thorny issue after no women filmmakers were nominated for an Oscar this year.
Mendes, who picked up Empire awards for best director and best film for the James Bond movie Skyfall, as well as the annual Inspiration Award, cited Paul Thomas Anderson, Francois Truffaut, Martin Scorsese and Ingmar Bergman as his influences.
I hope and pray and I know that in five or 10 years time that when the next Sam gets up and makes his or her speech there will be two or three or four or five women's names there.
His all-male list prompted Mirren, who collected the Empire Legend Award, to express her disappointment that Mendes wasn't inspired by women.
Well, I still got three awards ... Sam Mendes got a dressing down from Mirren. Photo: Getty Images
"I don't want to unduly pick on Sam Mendes, but when he spoke about his inspirations earlier this evening, I'm afraid not a single one of the people he mentioned was a woman," she said at the ceremony.
The fact that he had no female directors in his list prompted her to note that women were still not being recognised for their role in the film industry, saying that it was "a really blokey world" when she started out more than 40 years ago and films sets were dominated by men.
"But nowadays that's really changed and it's fantastic to see women and girls in the lighting department, cinematography, in the sound department, obviously in producing and writing," said Mirren.
"I hope and pray and I know that in five or 10 years time that when the next Sam gets up and makes his or her speech there will be two or three or four or five women's names there. Go girls!" she told a cheering crowd.
The star's list of successful films, such as The Queen and The Debt prove women play a big part in Hollywood.
Her speech, along with the prestigious accolade she was awarded, is a reminder of everything Mirren has achieved and she hopes things will only improve for female stars.
But so far only one woman filmmaker has won the Oscar for best director - Kathryn Bigelow in 2010 for The Hurt Locker.
Bigelow was only the fourth woman to be nominated for a best director Oscar after Lina Wertmuller for Seven Beauties in 1976, Jane Campion for The Piano in 1993, and Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation in 2003.
This year there were no women among the five nominees for the best director award which went to Taiwan-born Ang Lee for Life of Pi.
Figures from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University released in January showed that women still lag far behind men in reaching the top jobs in the film business.
Only nine per cent of directors of the top 250 grossing Hollywood films in 2012 were women, the same as 15 years ago.
The survey also found that in 2012, women made up 18 per cent of directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 US grossing films. This was unchanged from 2011 and an increase of one percentage point from 1998.
Despite Mirren's criticism, other Empire awards, which are voted for by the public, went to Martin Freeman for best actor for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which was also named best sci-fi/fantasy.
Best actress went to The Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence, who won the Oscar for lead female this year for her role in the quirky romance Silver Linings Playbook.
Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe was named the year's Empire Hero, while his film The Woman In Black won the award for best horror.
Reuters, with CM