The São Paulo musician who is empowering African-Brazilian women by rapping about Brazil’s history of slavery and racial division will perform Friday

MC Soffia: Brazil’s 12-year old rapper to perform for millions as Olympics open
MC Soffia: ‘When people do talk about Africans in Brazil, it’s about them being slaves, not about how much we have contributed to making Brazil what it is today.’ Photograph: Facebook

While many will be tuning into the Olympics opening ceremony in Rio De Janeiro to catch a glimpse of globally renowned figures such as Gisele Bunchen or Gilberto Gil, the star of the show may well turn out to be a diminutive 12-year-old from São Paulo.

Despite her youth, MC Soffia is already six years into her career as a rapper, and has gained fame for her lyrics which aim to empower young African-Brazilian women. She tackles the country’s long history of slavery and racial division, and challenges the way black people are represented in her rhymes.

In an interview last year, she explained how she became aware of Brazil’s casual racism when she was teased in kindergarten: another child told her her skin was black because she fell into a tin of paint. “I used to be teased by everybody,” she said. “So one day I told my mom I wanted to be white.”

Outraged, her mother began taking her to hip-hop concerts to learn more about her roots, and foster a strong sense of confidence in her heritage – a pride which is now reflected in Soffia’s lyrics.

Her song Africa pays homage to famous black Brazilian women such as the historical figure Chica de Silva – who was born a slave but whose children become nobles – and the author Carolina Maria De Jesus.

Another song, Menina Pretinha, or Little Black Girl, touches on her core messages with lyrics such as, “I will enjoy myself while I am small / Barbie is cool, but I prefer the African Makena,” in reference to the black dolls. “I’m black and I’m proud of my color … My hair is dope, it doesn’t need a flat iron,” she adds.

In an interview this week, Soffia said she hoped her Olympic performance would also shine light on a campaign to enforce a 2003 law that requires schools to include African culture in their curriculum.

“When people do talk about Africans in Brazil, it’s about them being slaves, not about how much we have contributed to making Brazil what it is today,” she told the Daily Mail. “That just encourages white kids to treat us bad.

“The law which was passed is older than I am, but even now hardly any schools obey it. If they did the children would grow up seeing black people differently, and that could bring racism in Brazil to an end.”

Despite the fact that she’ll performing to audience of millions on Friday, she’ll still have to go back to school at 7.30am on Monday, where she’ll have exams for the whole next week.

Based on the bestselling novel, Professor and the Madman will star the Oscar-winners as two obsessive men who worked together in the 19th century

Mel Gibson and Sean Penn to play creators of Oxford English Dictionary
Stranger than diction … Sean Penn and Mel Gibson. Composite: Getty Images/Rex Shutterstock

Mel Gibson and Sean Penn are set to star in Professor and the Madman, a real-life drama about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Gibson bought the rights to the bestselling novel The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Love of Words by Simon Winchester and will play Professor James Murray, who started to compile the dictionary in 1857.

Penn is in negotiations to play retired army surgeon W C Minor, who submitted more than 10,000 entries to Murray while imprisoned at an asylum for the criminally insane.

Gibson had originally intended to make it himself but the film will now be directed by Apocalypto writer Farhad Safinia, who also wrote and produced the TV show Boss, starring Kelsey Grammer.

Later this year Gibson will appear in front of the camera in the revenge thriller Blood Father and behind for the second world war drama Hacksaw Ridge. In June, it was announced that he is working on a follow-up to The Passion of the Christ.

Penn’s recent offering as a director, the aid worker romance The Last Face, was met with largely negative reviews at this year’s Cannes film festival. His voice was also recently heard in The Angry Birds Movie.

Oscar-winning actor to put on event billed as A Conversation with Hillary, with $2,700 from each ticket going towards the Democrat candidate’s campaign

Leonardo DiCaprio to host $33,400-a-ticket Hillary Clinton fundraiser
Leonardo DiCaprio contributed $2,700 to Clinton’s campaign last July. Photograph: Eugene Hoshiko/AP

Leonardo DiCaprio will host a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton later this month.

According to Variety, the Oscar-winning star of The Revenant is putting on an event billed as A Conversation With Hillary, for which tickets will be priced as $33,400 (£25,260). A total of $2,700 from each ticket will go to Clinton’s campaign, with the remaining to be donated to the Democratic national convention and local parties.

DiCaprio has attended Clinton fundraisers before, most recently in June, when he joined Jennifer Lopez and Sarah Jessica Parker at an event held at Harvey Weinstein’s New York home.

Last July he also contributed $2,700 to Clinton’s campaign, the highest donation allowed during the primary, although the actor had spoken about his support for Bernie Sanders prior to Clinton’s candidacy.

“Look, not to get political, but listening to Bernie Sanders at that first presidential debate was pretty inspiring – to hear what he said about the environment,” he said to Wired in December. “Who knows which candidate is going to become our next president, but we need to create a dialogue about it. I mean, when they asked each of the candidates what the most important issue facing our planet is, Bernie Sanders simply said climate change. To me that’s inspiring.”

At the recent DNC, Clinton received support from actors Meryl Streep, Elizabeth Banks, Angela Bassett and Ted Danson.

Shot-by-shot recreation starring 50 residents of New Zealand retirement home and a few of their grandchildren goes viral

A group of retirees has done its own take on Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off video, adding only the occasional local, and age-appropriate, touches such as frenetic cupcake dusting.

The 50 residents from a New Zealand retirement village spent a week learning the words and moves, and their attempt has now been rewarded with tens of thousands of views online.

Staff from the facility in Palmerston North and grandchildren made cameos in the professionally shot and produced video, but the stars are the residents themselves – with the average age of the dancers being 82 (combined aged 4,000).

“Just because we’re in a retirement village, doesn’t mean we can’t have fun,” said Margaret Gregory, 72, who was cast as Swift in the video. “We still have life and energy, and sometimes I feel I do more now than when I was younger, because I have more time.”

The footage from Julia Wallace retirement village mimics the original Shake It Off music clip almost shot for shot, including costumes (stitched by a village resident), dance moves and props.

However the Kiwis decided to include some local touches – including scenes of asparagus rolls being vigorously constructed, cupcake dusting and, right at the end, the New Zealand Swift being helped off the floor by her granddaughter.

The Swift video is not the first attention-grabbing outing for the residents of Julia Wallace.

In 2015 they produced a nude calendar to raise funds for the Red Cross, and in 2014 their sister village in Christchurch did a flash mob rendition of Pharrell Williams’s Happy at the local shopping centre.

She’s rich, famous and thin – but the actor is fed up enough to take on the press, which has focused its lenses on her and her flat belly for ‘the bajillionth time’

Jennifer Aniston takes on tabloids in scathing essay about pregnancy rumors
The latest swirl of pregnancy rumors led Jennifer Aniston to erupt in the Huffington Post about the ‘body shaming that occurs daily under the guise of ‘journalism’’. Photograph: Allstar/Columbia Pictures

News flash No 1: no, Jennifer Aniston is not pregnant.

News flash No 2: if she ever is in the family way, she will tell you first, honest.

Now, will you just leave the woman alone?

Or as she put it in a scathing essay in the Huffington Post on Tuesday: “[Women] are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies … We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own ‘happily ever after’ for ourselves.”

Yes, she’s rich. Yes, she’s famous. Yes, she’s talented. Yes, she’s thin. Thin enough so that every burrito becomes a baby bump shortly after swallowing.

But the actor is also fed up enough to take on the tabloid press, which has focused its many lenses on her and her very flat belly for “the bajillionth time … but who’s counting”.

And if Twitter is any indication, much of female Hollywood is firmly behind her. “AMEN!!!!!” was actor Anna Paquin’s short but emphatic response. “i loved this”, tweeted lower-key and lowercase singer Sara Bareilles. Comedian Margaret Cho: “Good for her!”

A few filled up most of the 140-character space with support, like singers Tegan and Sara, who piled on to the media-bashing with “YES. The media needs to cover REAL news. Stop shaming, stalking + grading womens bodies/lives”.

Responding to Aniston’s essay on Entertainment Tonight, actor Melissa McCarthy said she supporting Aniston’s stance “one hundred thousand billion percent”.

“Everyone needs to stop tearing down women,” McCarthy said. “It’s always about the way we look – saying, ‘He’s very interesting,’, ‘He’s a good writer,’ ‘She’s looking older than she was last time we saw her.’”

The latest swirl of pregnancy rumors led Aniston to erupt in the Huffington Post about the corrosive nature of the “sport-like scrutiny and body shaming that occurs daily under the guise of ‘journalism’, the ‘First Amendment’, and ‘celebrity news’”.

It’s not, she pointed out, that there hasn’t been other news to cover beyond her non-pregnancy, her non-divorce, and did we mention her non-pregnancy?

“In this last boring news cycle about my personal life,” she wrote, “there have been mass shootings, wildfires, major decisions by the Supreme Court, an upcoming election, and any number of more newsworthy issues that ‘journalists’ could dedicate their resources towards.”

Google “Jennifer Aniston kids” and the results are creative to say the least. She is variously “expecting a boy”, “adopting two girls”, “welcoming first child via surrogate” and, with husband Justin Theroux, has “decided to adopt kids to save their marriage”.

No wonder she’s annoyed.

Women like her – and you and your mom and your sister and your grandmother – are being judged daily, she writes, by a toxic standard of beauty and cultural norms that “define a woman’s value based on her marital and maternal status”.

In other words, you have to be thin. And pregnant.

“I used to tell myself that tabloids were like comic books, not to be taken seriously, just a soap opera for people to follow when they need a distraction,” she fumed. “But I really can’t tell myself that anymore because the reality is the stalking and objectification I’ve experienced first-hand, going on decades now, reflects the warped way we calculate a woman’s worth.”

At 47, Aniston is nearing the average of menopause for US women – not that that’s any of your business either. Although she does raise the reproductive issue in her rebuke to the tabloids: “Yes, I may be a mother some day, and since I’m laying it all out there, I’ll be the first to let you know. But I’m not in pursuit of motherhood because I feel incomplete in some way.”

Along with her anger, though, Aniston did express a sliver of hope that women – famous and otherwise – could actually fight back.

“We get to decide how much we buy into what’s being served up,” she wrote, “and maybe some day the tabloids will be forced to see the world through a different, more humanized lens because consumers have just stopped buying the bullshit.”

To quote a tweeting Keltie Knight, Canadian television presenter and former dancer for Beyoncé and Kanye: “Bravo #JenniferAniston (and for the record I also, just god-forbid ate a sandwich.)”

In 2015, the story of a stolen iPhone went viral and led to a friendship forged on China’s Twitter. Now, the Finding Dory star is working on a film about it

Ellen DeGeneres and BuzzFeed planning film about China's Brother Orange
The future’s orange … Ellen DeGeneres. Photograph: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

Ellen DeGeneres and BuzzFeed are working together on a film inspired by a series of articles about a stolen mobile phone, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Brother Orange will take its cue from BuzzFeed editor Matt Stopera’s online response to having his iPhone stolen in 2014. When mysterious pictures started appearing in his photostream a year after the theft – most notably of a Chinese man in front of an orange tree – Stopera’s story went viral on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter. Stopera then travelled to the Chinese city of Meizhou to meet “Brother Orange”, becoming something of a celebrity in China in the process. Brother Orange subsequently came to the US for a reciprocal visit, and the pair appeared on DeGeneres’s talkshow.

DeGeneres and Stopera will act as executive producers for the planned feature, which will tell the story of “an unlikely, accidental friendship that transcended cultural divides”. The project will be produced by BuzzFeed’s film development arm alongside Flagship Entertainment, a joint venture between Warner Bros and China Media Capital, which aims to make films that will appeal to the Chinese market.

The star of the action franchise has expressed equanimity at the prospect of a younger actor taking over the role, saying it’s inevitable and desirable

Matt Damon: I'm going to be replaced as Bourne – and that's fine
Bourne again … Matt Damon and co-star Alicia Vikander at the South Korean premiere for Jason Bourne on 8 July 2016. Photograph: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

The actor Matt Damon has declared himself unconcerned about the prospect of being replaced in the action franchise with which he’s become synonymous.

Speaking in South Korea ahead of the premiere of the fifth Jason Bourne film, Damon declared himself “totally fine” with someone new taking over the role.

“I’m definitely going to be replaced some day by some new young Jason Bourne,” he said. “That happens to everybody and they reboot these things, and that’s totally fine.”

Damon, now 45, said he found the action sequences more taxing than he had at 29, when shooting the first Bourne film.

“It’s difficult when you’re 45 compared to when you’re 29, but you still have to run as fast as you can. That part was a challenge but to get to revisit the people was wonderful.

“But I said, let’s smell the roses and appreciate that we get to be here together, and make sure we have fun.”

In 2012, an attempt was made to continue the franchise with Jeremy Renner and Tony Gilroy replacing Damon and Greengrass. But The Bourne Legacy only made marginally more than the 2002 original, and about half the total of 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum.

Damon’s remarks come as debate still rages over casting for the next James Bond, despite Daniel Craig not having officially thrown in the towel.

Long-gestating adaptation of stage play Vita and Virginia by Eileen Atkins will be directed by Chanya Button

Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West romance set for big screen
An affair to remember … Virginia Woolf, left and Vita Sackville West, the English writer who was the model for Woolf’s Orlando. Composite: AP/Getty Images

Vita and Virginia, Eileen Atkins’s fictionalisation of the friendship and affair of writers Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, is finally heading to the big screen.

No casting has yet been announced, but the director is Chanya Button, whose female buddy comedy Burn Burn Burn was a hit at last autumn’s London film festival.

The movie is an adaptation of Atkins’ play of the same name, which premiered in 1992, three years after she toured the world in a stage adaptation of Woolf’s collected lectures. The actor adapted her own script for the screen in 2000, shortly before she was cast in a minor role in Stephen Daldry’s adaptation of Michael Cunningham’s novel The Hours, which she was not wholly impressed by.

In 2007, Atkins said:

It’s not that the portrait of her is wrong, but it’s only her depression. It came as a real thrill to me that I made people go back and read it and see how witty she was. When I first got the script, I threw it from one end of my apartment to the other. I thought, right, OK, you’ve had your temper. It’s going to be done anyway, so grit your teeth, take the day’s filming, have a day with Meryl Streep and fuck everybody. And that’s what I did. It’s over and it was a success and that’s fine. But I just wish somebody would do my script.

The relationship between the two Bloomsbury luminaries began in 1922 and lasted around a decade, although they remained friends until Woolf’s death in 1941. The novelist dedicated 1928’s Orlando to Sackville-West; Vita’s son, Nigel Nicholson, called it “the longest and most charming love-letter in literature”.

Brexit gloom, football counterprogramming and decent reviews help sitcom land in second place in UK charts

Absolutely Fabulous off to corking start with £4.4m weekend at UK box office
Bolly good start … Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders at the Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie world premiere in London. Photograph: James Shaw/REX/Shutterstock

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie has scored the biggest UK film opening since Spectre, taking £4.4m over its debut weekend.

The film made more than double the three-day total for the Dad’s Army movie, which took £2.1m in February; it also beat recent healthy homegrown performers such as Eddie the Eagle and The Lady in the Van.

However, it still falls some way short of the opening weekend totals for both Inbetweeners movies, as well as the most recent James Bond movie, which took £6.3m on its opening day alone.

The sitcom spin-off is said to have benefited from better-than-expected reviews, while releasing during Euro 2016 was always going to boost a film whose target audience is predominantly female.

The film, which is marketed as an unchallenging and celebratory adult comedy, may also have been aided by current political uncertainty and national despondency.

Absolutely Fabulous’s international rollout is protracted: it arrives in the US on 22 July, in Australia on 4 August and territories such as Singapore and Germany later in the autumn, before a Russian release in October.

Michael Cimino, the director of the Vietnam war classic The Deer Hunter and the infamous epic western Heaven’s Gate, has died. He was 77.

Michael Cimino, director of The Deer Hunter and Heaven's Gate, dies aged 77
Michael Cimino at the Rome Film Festival, in 2008. Photograph: AGF s.r.l./REX/Shutterstock

Thierry Fremaux, the director of the Cannes film festival, tweeted the news on Saturday, saying: “Michael Cimino has died, in peace, surrounded by friends and the two women who loved him. We loved him too.”

Cimino directed eight films, starting in 1974 with the highly rated Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges-starring crime movie Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, for which he also wrote the screenplay. The Deer Hunter, a harrowing story of friends from working class Pennsylvania played by Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken, in which a young Meryl Streep also appears and her then fiancé John Cazale takes his final role, followed in 1978.

The film was a critical and commercial success. On its re-release in 2014, Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw saluted The Deer Hunter’s “combination of sulphurous anti-war imagery, disillusion and patriotic melancholy”.

“A simple, much-forgotten fact slaps you in the face after watching The Deer Hunter,” Bradshaw wrote. “Vietnam was different to Iraq and Afghanistan in one vital respect: the soldiers were drafted. They had no choice. The idea of sacrifice permeates everything, along with the cruelty and horror. This is Cimino’s masterpiece.”

Heaven’s Gate (1980), starring Walken and Kris Kristofferson and loosely based on the Wyoming Johnson County war of 1889-93, was a critical and commercial failure which hastened the demise of the United Artists studio and coloured the rest of Cimino’s career.

The film has since undergone something of a critical rehabilitation. In 2013, Bradshaw called it “colossally ambitious and mysteriously moving, with an unhurried, unforced pace, beautifully photographed by Vilmos Zsigmond”, the cinematographer who died in January at the age of 85.

Cimino’s other films included Desperate Hours (1990), a thriller starring Mickey Rourke and Anthony Hopkins, and the gangster film The Sicilian (1986), which was adapted from a novel by Godfather author Mario Puzo.

In 2001 he published his only novel, Big Jane, a story of the 1950s and the Korean war. Speaking to the Guardian, he said of his ups and downs in film: “Hollywood has always been crazy. It’s controlled anarchy. But how can you loathe something that has given you so much?

Michael Cimino, director of The Deer Hunter and Heaven's Gate, dies aged 77
The famous Russian roulette scene in The Deer Hunter. Photograph: Picture library

“I wouldn’t have had the life I’ve had without movies. Anybody who says they’re bitter is sick in their soul. They’ve given up.”

On Saturday, the writer, producer and director Christopher McQuarrie, tweeted: “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, The Deer Hunter and yes … Heaven’s Gate. Michael Cimino. May the rest of us do half as well.”

The director William Friedkin said: “I wish I had paid tribute to Michael Cimino while he was alive. He was an important and masterful film maker. We will always have his work.”

As part of new measures, Ampas has promised merciless action if members attend ‘any screening event, party or dinner that is reasonably perceived to unduly influence members or undermine the integrity of the vote’

Party hardball: Academy clamps down on wining and dining for Oscar voters
Party’s over … the Elton John AIDS Foundation party after the 1996 Oscars. Photograph: KMazur/WireImage

The Academy for Motion Pictures and Sciences has taken drastic action to try and prevent further accusations of latent prejudice among its members.

On 29 June an unprecedented number of new members – 683, more than double the usual figure – were invited to join, in the hope that their improved levels of diversity (46% women and 41% people of colour) might help avoid another year in which no ethnic minorities were nominated for acting awards.

But other measures, announced on Thursday, were also approved at the board of governors meeting on 28 June, chief among them measures that draw a clearer line between social events and lobbying.

In an attempt to level the playing field for less well-funded films, the new campaign regulations state that “Academy members may not be invited to attend any non-screening event, party or dinner that is reasonably perceived to unduly influence members or undermine the integrity of the vote”.

The consequences of non-compliance includes losing membership; the onus falls on members themselves, as well as those seeking to butter them up.

“Members who fail to comply with this regulation,” explain the rules, “will be subject to a one-year suspension of membership for first-time violations and expulsion for subsequent violations.”

The Academy has also outlawed any screening that includes a live performance of a song from a soundtrack that is eligible for an award. As the Hollywood Reporter has pointed out, this could become problematic when many members are required to attend crossover events, such as the Producers Guild of America awards, at which this year Lady Gaga performed Till It Happens to You. That song lost out to Sam Smith’s Writing’s on the Wall at the 2016 Oscars.

More stringent requirements were also demanded of features, which must now not only complete a week’s run in Los Angeles before the deadline but also guarantee at least three screenings a day, including one at prime time. A similar rule concerning documentaries and New York has been loosened, however, so that those which complete the required run in any of the city’s borough’s are now eligible.

Rapper says Timberlake benefits from African-American music improving his sound but has failed to offer any support over Black Lives Matter

Justin Timberlake 'uses black culture', says hip-hop star Vic Mensa
Justin Timberlake … ‘We’re not feeling him being down when it’s beneficial to him.’ Photograph: Joel Ryan/AP

The emerging rap star Vic Mensa has criticised Justin Timberlake for his attitude towards African-American culture, saying: “We’re not feeling him being down when it’s beneficial to him and turning a blind eye when it could be dangerous.”

Mensa was speaking about cultural appropriation on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. His remarks followed Timberlake’s response to a speech delivered by actor Jesse Williams at the BET awards on Sunday, which had a section on cultural appropriation. “This invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil, black gold,” Williams said. “Ghettoising and demeaning our creations then stealing them; gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit.”

Timberlake had tweeted his support for the speech, saying it was “inspired”. But Mensa pointed out that Timberlake had done just what Williams had highlighted. “Our problem here is that Justin Timberlake himself, you know, is definitely benefiting from using black culture for his sound, his dance moves, his dancers and blowing up off of it,” Mensa said.

“But if you roll down Justin Timberlake’s Twitter for the past two years, which I just did, you see nothing that supports black people when it’s more difficult; when there’s a struggle. With everything that’s going on and everybody that’s been killed by police on camera in the last couple of years, there’s no ‘#BlackLivesMatter’, there’s no ‘praying for Baltimore’, there’s no ‘praying for Flint’, you know, because that’s a dangerous subject for him to touch. And we’re not feeling him being down when it’s beneficial to him and turning a blind eye when it could be dangerous.”

Mensa later tweeted that he was not attacking Timberlake personally.

Immediately after Timberlake tweeted about Williams, an African-American journalist tweeted him to ask: “Does this mean you’re going to stop appropriating our music and culture?” Timberlake was criticised for responding with: “Oh, you sweet soul. The more you realize that we are the same, the more we can have a conversation.” He followed up by saying: “I feel misunderstood. I responded to a specific tweet that wasn’t meant to be a general response. I shouldn’t have responded anyway.”

The Star Wars actor John Boyega is the first named to star in Bigelow’s anticipated follow-up to Zero Dark Thirty, a crime drama set against the backdrop of the Detroit riots

John Boyega cast in Kathryn Bigelow's upcoming film about 1960s Detroit riots
John Boyega has reason to smile. Photograph: John Phillips/Getty Images

John Boyega is on a roll.

Weeks after it was announced that the Star Wars: The Force Awakens breakout star had signed on for the lead role in the sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, it is announced that the British actor has been cast in Kathryn Bigelow’s next film.

Billed as an “Untitled Detroit Project” by Annapurna Pictures, the production company behind Bigelow’s last feature, Zero Dark Thirty, Bigelow’s latest is a crime drama set against the backdrop of the Detroit riots that took place over five summer days in 1967. The film explores “systemic racism”, according to a statement released by Annapurna. Bigelow’s frequent collaborator, Mark Boal, is writing the screenplay.

Further details on the production, which is set to begin shooting this summer, have not been revealed. To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the riots, the film is aiming to open sometime in 2017.

Boyega is in the midst of shooting Star Wars: Episode VIII, and will next be seen onscreen opposite Tom Hanks and Emma Watson in The Circle. He will be making his stage debut on London’s West End in Woyzeck at the Old Vic, next year.

As for Bigelow, she last directed Last Days in 2014, a short film about elephant poaching. Her last feature film, Zero Dark Thirty, received five Oscar nominations including best picture and best actress for Jessica Chastain.

Film criticism remains ‘a heavily male pursuit’, according to a study of Rotten Tomatoes by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film

  • Men outnumber women by 73% to 27%
  • Study author says gender bias impacts exposure female protagonists receive
'Thumbs down': female critics vastly outnumbered by male counterparts – new study
One of the greats … film critic Pauline Kael Photograph: AP

Women’s struggles to secure adequate representation in the film industry have been well documented in recent years. Now, a new study suggests they are outnumbered when it comes to writing and broadcasting about films, too.

The San Diego-based Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film (CSWTF) has published the report Thumbs Down 2016: Top Film Critics and Gender, which analyses the gender ratio of writers appearing on the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. It has concluded that men outnumber women by 73% to 27%, a factor of more than two to one.

Martha Lauzen, the report’s author and executive director of CSWTF, said: “The discussion of film … remains a heavily male pursuit, reflecting an industry with the same bias. Women’s underrepresentation among the top critics is not only an employment issue for women who write about film, it also impacts the amount of exposure films with female protagonists receive.”

Lauzen’s analysis revealed that the gender imbalance also affects the nature of coverage films receive. Crucially, she reports, while male and female reviewers on average award similar ratings to films featuring female protagonists, a male critic is considerably less likely to review it in the first place. According to the study, 34% of reviews written by women are of films that feature at least one female protagonist, compared with only 24% of reviews written by men.

The study’s research took as its focus the work of Rotten Tomatoes’ “top critics”, which the site says “must be published at a print publication in the top 10% of circulation, employed as a film critic at a national broadcast outlet for no less than five years, or employed as a film critic for an editorial-based website with over 1.5 million monthly unique visitors for a minimum of three years”.

Stars, including Nicolas Cage and Jodie Foster, have been sharing their condolences for the actor, who has died at the age of 27

Hollywood tributes continue to pour in for Star Trek's Anton Yelchin
‘He was the kindest person I ever worked with’ … Nicolas Cage on the late Anton Yelchin. Photograph: Tony Gentile/Reuters

Tributes across Hollywood have continued to pour in for actor Anton Yelchin, who has died in a car accident at the age of 27.

The star, known for roles in the rebooted Star Trek franchise and acclaimed indie horror Green Room, has been remembered by those who worked with him and those who knew him.

Jodie Foster, who directed Yelchin in the 2011 comedy The Beaver, has released a statement to remember the actor.

“What a rare and beautiful soul with his unstoppable passion for life,” it read. “He was equal parts serious thinker and the most fun little brother you could ever dream of. I am so honoured to have been able to direct such a deep actor, so committed and genuine. I will forever be grateful for all of those little exchanges we shared, his contagious enthusiasm, his questions, his company. My heart breaks for his mom and dad who were a part of every anecdote. He carried their love into everything he touched.”

Justin Lin, who directed Yelchin in this summer’s Star Trek Beyond, tweeted to highlight the actor’s “passion and enthusiasm”.

Yelchin worked with director Paul Schrader in the 2014 thriller Dying of the Light, which also starred Nicolas Cage, and the pair shared a tribute via Facebook.

Hollywood tributes continue to pour in for Star Trek's Anton Yelchin

On Twitter, stars from Elijah Wood to William Shatner also shared their condolences.

Yelchin was involved in a freak parking accident at his Los Angeles home on Sunday morning. He has a number of projects still to be released, including this summer’s Star Trek Beyond and sci-fi mystery Rememory with Peter Dinklage.