female directors are finally on the rise at major film festivals

While it's good news ahead of festival season, there is still a lot more work to be done.

by Isabelle Hellyer
22 May 2017, 4:50pm

This article was originally published by i-D Australia.

While the upper echelons of Hollywood remain overwhelming male, a new report has found change is happening elsewhere: more women filmmakers are breaking into the indie circuit. The study, led by Dr. Martha Lauzen — executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University — looked at 23 major festivals, including the SXSW Film Festival and Tribeca. 

The resulting report, titled Women in Independent Film, found more films directed by women are screening today than ever before. In the 2016 to 2017 season, 29 percent of films were directed by women, an increase of 3.6 percent from the prior season. In 2008, just 22 percent of films on the circuit were from women. Despite the year-on-year progress, the numbers still aren't ideal. "High profile film festivals in the U.S. screened three times as many narrative films directed by men as by women in 2016-17," the report outlines. 

Interestingly, documentary representation is a little better than narrative. "Women accounted for 31 percent of individuals working on documentaries versus 26 percent of those working on narrative features," Dr. Lauzen writes. 

READ: the ten most anticipated films of cannes

Lauzen found that when films were led by women, it affected the entire crew: women were more likely to hire other women for key supporting roles. "On films with female directors, women comprised 74 percent of writers, compared to just 7 percent on films with exclusively male directors," the report found. "On films with women directors, women accounted for 36 percent of editors compared with 17 percent on films directed exclusively by men. On films with women directors, women comprised 23 percent of cinematographers versus 6 percent on films directed exclusively by men." The message? More female directors equals more women on set — and that's something we need to take to Hollywood. Read the full report here.


Text Isabelle Hellyer Still via i-D's Guide to Being a New Yorker with Chloë Sevigny

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