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Film Industry's Gender Inequality Targeted by Sundance Institute and Women In Film's Research

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood January 21, 2013 at 1:47PM

The results of a first-of-its-kind study on gender disparity in independent film, conducted by the Sundance Institite and Women In Film Los Angeles, were shared today with a group of industry leaders at the Park City festival.
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"Middle of Nowhere."
"Middle of Nowhere."

The results of a first-of-its-kind study on gender disparity in independent film, conducted by the Sundance Institite and Women In Film Los Angeles, were shared today with a group of industry leaders at the Park City festival. The study was conducted by Stacy L. Smith, Ph.D., Katherine Pieper, Ph.D. and Marc Choueiti at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California.

Sundance's Keri Putnam states: "The results of this research are encouraging, and we hope they will highlight the barriers and opportunities facing women behind the camera."

Women In Film's Cathy Schulman adds that the data "shows us that there is a higher representation of female filmmakers in independent film as compared to Hollywood – but it also highlights the work that is still to be done for women to achieve equal footing in the field.”

Specific problems identified in the study as detrimental to women's career development in film include: gendered financial barriers, male-dominated industry networking and stereotyping on set. Consider the findings below:

The research was conducted with a two-prong approach. First, it quantitatively assessed the gender of 11,197 directors, writers, producers, cinematographers and editors in U.S. movies programmed for the Sundance Film Festival between 2002 and 2012 to identify the prevalence of female filmmakers. Second, researchers documented the qualitative experiences of female filmmakers through interviews with filmmakers and film industry representatives.

- Of U.S. films selected for the Sundance Film Festival from 2002-2012, 29.8% of filmmakers (directors, writers, producers, cinematographers and editors) were female.

This article is related to: News, News, Women in Film, Sundance Institute , Sundance Film Festival


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.