Last night’s UK Music Video Awards at London’s Roundhouse saw Michel Gondry, Paul Thomas Anderson, Andrew Thomas Huang and other stars of film direction honoured for their work this year, though there was a stark lack of female directors collecting prizes. Male directors were behind 30 of the award-winning videos, while just two female directors won prizes for direction – a depressing but unsurprising figure given the imbalanced proportion of female directors in the industry.
Lucrecia Taormina was the only solo female director to win a prize, for Ashnikko’s Hi, It’s Me in the Best Pop Video – Newcomer category. Diana Kunst also represented the women’s corner, in collaboration with Mau Morgó, with their co-direction of Rosalía’s De Aqui No Sales video winning Best International Pop Video.
Video of the Year 2019 went to Stormzy’s Vossi Bop, directed by Henry Scholfield, while Scholfield also won Best Director – he was also behind the artist’s video for Sounds of the Skeng. FKA Twigs’ Cellophane video directed by Andrew Thomas Huang won the most awards, given four prizes for Best UK Alternative Video, Cinematography, Editing and Visual Effects. Thom Yorke’s mini feature Anima directed by Paul Thomas Anderson won Best Choreography in a Video.
A new award for Best Special Video Project went to Kano’s Trouble directed by Aniel Karia, continuing their collaborative work on Netflix’s Top Boy. In other categories, Frank Lebon’s video for A$AP Rocky’s Sundressby won Best International Urban Video; Vincent Haycock’s video for Sam Fender’s Dead Boys won Best UK Rock Video; Ian Pons Jewell’s video for Beardyman’s 6am (Ready to Write) won Best UK Dance Video; and Pablo Maestres’ video for Barns Courtney’s You and I won Best UK Pop Video.
The Oscar Hudson-directed video for Loyle Carner’s Ottolenghi won Best Production Design in a Video – see Oscar explain the painstaking process behind his previous work on Bonobo’s No Reason at Nicer Tuesdays here. Michel Gondry was honoured with this year’s Icon Award, with collaborators and peers including Björk, The Chemical Brothers, Paul McCartney, Jim Carrey, Spike Jonze, Dougal Wilson and Garth Jennings paying tribute to his work with video messages.
There are a number of organisations fighting to address the lack of diversity in direction. Alma Har’el’s Free the Bid (now called Free the Work) has made strides for women directors in advertising, while Women in Animation is tackling the cause in their field. For our International Women’s Day feature Why is there a lack of women in animation? we spoke to Nina Gantz, Anna Ginsburg, Niki Lindroth von Bahr, and Strange Beast’s Kitty Turley, among others, about why women are less commonly found in the director’s chair, and what the industry is doing about it.