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Study: Women Have Better Shot at Directing Indie Movies Than Major Releases

Women are making up greater percentages of directors of independent features and documentaries than they are top-grossing movies, according to a new study released on Wednesday.

The report, “Independent Women,” comes from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.

It showed that women made up 29% of directors working on documentaries and 18% of those directing independent narrative features. That is a contrast to the center’s figure for the gender makeup of directors of the 250 top-grossing films of 2014 — just 7% were women.

Last month, the ACLU of Southern California called for federal and state agencies to investigate Hollywood hiring practices, citing not just the low figures of employment for female directors on top-grossing feature films and major TV shows, but anecdotal stories from about 50 directors.

The Independent Women study examined independent films screened at 23 film festivals in 2014-15, including the AFI Fest, the Los Angeles Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival and SXSW Film Festival.

Martha Lauzen, executive director of the San Diego State center, said that the findings “drive home the point that women who direct are much more plentiful than the numbers from the mainstream film industry would lead us to believe.”

Overall, in the independent category, women made up 26% of all directors, writers, executive producers, producers, editors and cinematographers.

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