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Helen Mirren takes a swipe at Sam Mendes and laments lack of female directors

The actress hit back when the director cited an all-male list of inspirations

Dame Helen Mirren drew on Sam Mendes’ acceptance speech at The Empire Film Awards to criticise the lack of women in prominent positions in the film industry.

In her speech accepting the “Legend Award”, Mirren hit out at the male dominated industry after Sam Mendes cited his all-male film inspirations when receiving a gong earlier in the evening. 

“It was great to hear Sam’s list of moments that inspired him in the movies. I did however note that there was not a female name behind the camera," she said.

During a speech when Mendes accepted his Empire Inspiration Award for Skyfall, he credited an all-male list of directors who had created iconic movie moments that inspired him to become a filmmaker, including Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Quentin Tarantino and Francis Copopola.

Mirren, admitting she had been more of a "leg over than a legend", said: "Nothing against Sam, because they are great moments he chose…but I hope in five or ten years’ time when the next Sam makes his or her speech there will be some more women there,” she said.

"There are some really wonderful female directors coming up. Many of them are British and it's so exciting to see that. You go girls!”

The lack of female directors has been noted at other industry awards including the Oscars and Baftas. Kathryn Bigelow became the first female director to win an Academy Award for her film The Hurt Locker as late as 2010. 

The Jameson Empire Awards 2013 Winners in full

Best Male Newcomer presented by Entertainment Tonight: Tom Holland for The Impossible

Best Female Newcomer: Samantha Barks for Les Miserables

Best Comedy presented by Magic 105.4: Ted

Best Science-Fiction/Fantasy: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Best Thriller presented by Vue Entertainment: Headhunters

Best Horror presented by Cafe de Paris: The Woman In Black

The Art Of 3D presented by RealD: Dredd 3D

Best British Film presented by Tresor Paris: Sightseers

Best Director presented by Monitor Audio: Sam Mendes for Skyfall

Jameson Best Actor: Martin Freeman for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Best Actress presented by Citroen: Jennifer Lawrence for The Hunger Games

Best Film presented by Sky Movies: Skyfall

Empire Inspiration Award presented by Jameson Irish Whiskey: Sam Mendes

Empire Legend: Helen Mirren

Empire Hero: Daniel Radcliffe

Empire Outstanding Contribution: Danny Boyle