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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.
Kathryn Bigelow
Kathryn Bigelow

- Across all behind-the-camera positions, females were most likely to be producers. As the prestige of the producing post increased, the percentage of female participation decreased. This trend was observed in both narrative and documentary filmmaking. Fewer than one third of all narrative producers but just over 40% of associate producers were female. In documentaries, 42.5% of producers and 59.5% of associate producers were female.

- When compared to films directed by males, those directed by females feature more women filmmakers behind the camera (writers, producers, cinematographers, editors). This is true in both narratives (21% increase) and documentaries (24% increase).

- Females were half as likely to be directors of narrative films than documentaries (16.9% vs. 34.5%).

- Female directors of Sundance Film Festival films exceed those of the top 100 box office films. 23.9% of directors at the Sundance Film Festival from 2002-2012 were female, compared to 4.4% of directors across the top 100 box office films each year from 2002 to 2012 that were female.

- 41.5% of the female directors across 1,100 top-grossing movies of the past ten years had been supported by Sundance Institute.

- Five major areas were identified as hampering women’s career development in film:
o    Gendered financial barriers (43.1%)
o    Male-dominated industry networking (39.2%)
o    Stereotyping on set (15.7%)
o    Work and family balance (19.6%)
o    Exclusionary hiring decisions (13.7%)

- Opportunities exist to improve the situation for women in independent film. Individuals mentioned three key ways to change the status quo:
o    Mentoring and encouragement for early career women (36.7%)
o    Improving access to finance (26.5%)
o    Raising awareness of the problem (20.4%)

More on the partnership between SI and WIF below:

The first initiative of the Sundance Institute and Women In Film Los Angeles collaboration, which began in January 2012, was to create a Mentorship Program, matching 17 Sundance Institute-supported women directors and producers with leaders in the field. Sundance Institute and Women In Film Los Angeles also convened meetings in New York and Los Angeles this fall with leading organizations working on gender in media. These Allied Organizations will be involved in and lend counsel to the project, and include: AFI; Alliance of Women Directors; Women in Film New York; Athena Film Festival / Women & Hollywood; Chapman University; Chicken & Egg; Film Independent; Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media; IFP; Impact Partners Women’s Fund; Loreen Arbus Foundation; Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, NYC; Paley Center for Media; PGA; Tangerine; UCLA; USC; Women Make Movies; Women Moving Millions; and Women’s Media Center.

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.