Sundance: ’99 Homes’ Director Calls Hollywood’s Lack of Diversity ‘Horrific’ (Video)

The film industry could also take a lesson from Silicon Valley, writer-director Ramin Bahrani tells TheWrap

Last Updated: January 26, 2015 @ 10:59 AM

Hollywood’s lack of diversity is an open secret, “99 Homes” writer-director Ramin Bahrani said on Saturday during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

“Listen, everyone knows: There’s a horrific lack of diversity in Hollywood,” Bahrani told TheWrap Editor-in-Chief Sharon Waxman while discussing the Oscar nominations–revitalized hot-button issue. “There should be a lot more female writers, female directors.”

Bahrani and the film’s star Michael Shannon (“Man of Steel”) stopped by TheWrap‘s Sundance studio on Saturday to discuss the film, which tells the story of a ruthless businessman who evicts a single father, but then offers him a “deal with the devil” to get it back. The film also stars Andrew Garfield (“The Amazing Spider-Man”) and Laura Dern (“Wild”).

Bahrani and Waxman acknowledged the promising number of female directors presenting at Sundance. Bahrani also suggested Hollywood should look for inspiration a few hours north of Los Angeles.

“I think what is interesting are things coming out of Silicon Valley,” he said. “There’s a freshness in the Valley that is not really existing in the film industry. In Silicon Valley, people think concepts like ‘Zero to One’ are good. In Hollywood, they think ‘Zero to One’ is scary.”

Bahrani was referencing a start-up theory popularized by author and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel that calls for new companies to seek a monopoly in an uninhabited stretch of market space.

“I think they should just keep moving forward as islands of themselves,” Bahrani said, speaking of minorities, but also anyone who might not have a mainstream platform.

Bahrani doesn’t think “snubs” of films like “Selma,” which many industry observers thought should have been nominated in more than two Oscar categories, are the only slights to pay attention to this awards season.

“I mean, the first thing that I noticed was Steve James‘ film ‘Life Itself’ was not nominated, which was utter insanity,” Bahari said. “It made no sense at all.”

Waxman interviewed Bahrani and Shannon at TheWrap Interview Studio at the Indiegogo Lounge powered by Dell.