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AFI Receives $350,000 Grant for Study of Gender Parity in Film

The American Film Institute has received a $350,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a study on gender parity in the history of American film.

The study has been named for director Lloyd Bacon’s lost 1928 film, “Women They Talk About,” a comedy starring Irene Rich and Audrey Ferris that was released by Warner Bros. in the early days of talkies. The initiative seeks to explore how gender parity was nearly achieved in the early decades of film — an era in which more women held positions of power than at any other time in the U.S. motion picture industry.

The project will be led by the research team at the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, which has a database of every American film released in the first 100 years of the movie business, with a collection of more than 500,000 credits.

“’Women They Talk About’ is a game-changer for the story of women’s roles in film,” said AFI Catalog manager Sarah Blankfort Clothier. “This essential project will bring forgotten female film pioneers into the cultural vernacular, and secure their contributions in the canon of American cinema.”

AFI said “Women They Talk About” is one of AFI’s efforts to empower female filmmakers, including the AFI Directing Workshop for Women, the AFI Cinematography Introductory Intensive for Women, and the Young Women in Film Intensive.

The AFI Catalog and the “Women They Talk About” project are also supported by grants from J. Paul Getty Trust and the Lovell Foundation.

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