Lifetime, AFI team for fest

Lifetime cable is joining forces with the American Film Institute to enhance the network’s fledgling “Lifetime Women’s Film Festival,” jointly producing a short-film showcase for first-time women filmmakers that’s skedded to premiere in spring1998.

The program kicked off in March when Lifetime aired its maiden “Women’s Film Festival,” which included five short films directed by female filmmakers (including one commissioned by the network).

For the festival’s second year, Lifetime and AFI will sponsor a competition beginning in July that solicits female directors to submit short films produced in 1997 to a committee. Four of the projects will be chosen to air on the spring ’98 special.

Lifetime TV also becomes a major corporate sponsor of AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women, which has produced graduates including Maya Angelou, Dyan Cannon, Lee Grant and Ellen Burstyn. Despite AFI’s efforts, however, only 7% of today’s working directors are women.

AFI director and CEO Jean Picker Firstenberg said, “AFI is extremely pleased and excited by the prospect of this new relationship with Lifetime Television because it enables AFI’s work in (increasing the representation of women in the film directing ranks) to continue on a new level and to reach a national audience.”

Added Lifetime prexy and CEO Doug McCormick: “Top female talent will compete with their peers and provide Lifetime viewers with cutting-edge programming produced by women for women.”

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