U.S. Film Festivals Screened Three Times More Narrative Films From Men Than Women (Study)

Despite efforts to improve the representation of women behind and in front of the camera, the number of narrative features shown at major U.S. film festivals directed by men is nearly three times more than the number for women, according to a new report.

Published by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, the study found that 23 festivals screened an average of 16 narrative features compared with six for pictures directed by women. Women fared better with documentaries. The festivals on average screened 13 documentaries directed by men compared with an average of 8 for women.

The study also looked at behind-the-camera roles, where women also fared poorly. The report showed that 85% of films screened at festivals had no female cinematographers, 77% had no female writers, 73% had no female editors, and 66% had no female directors.

“The findings indicate that the celluloid ceiling endures in independent film for behind-the-scenes women, despite the heightened public and industry attention regarding their under-employment,” the study’s author, Dr. Martha Lauzen, said in a statement. “The numbers have yet to reflect any sea change or seismic shift for women working on independent films.”

Titled “Indie Women,” the report found that women were more likely to be represented in key roles on features directed by women. On films with at least one female director, women comprised 71% of writers versus 8% on films directed exclusively by men. On films with at least one female director, women accounted for 47% of editors versus 17% of films directed exclusively by men.

The study looked at films that screened at festivals in 2017 and through May 2018, including AFI Fest, SXSW, Telluride, Tribeca, and Los Angeles.

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