Women in the World and the IFC Center are teaming up to create a new kind of film festival that will be dedicated to highlighting female artists and their work. Dubbed 51Fest, the event will take place from July 18-21 in New York City at the IFC Center and the SVA Theatre.
The festival’s name is a nod to the fact that women comprise more than half of the U.S. population. However, that demographic representation isn’t reflected in movies and other forms of media. From 2007 to 2018, less than 5% of directors from the 1,200 top-grossing films were female — that’s a ratio of 22 men to every one woman with a directing credit. With pressure building to become more inclusive, Hollywood did back more movies with female leads. The percentage of films featuring female protagonists rose to 31% in 2018, an increase of seven percentage points, according to a new report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.
Women in the World and IFC Center said a full lineup of screenings, in-depth conversations and special events will be announced in June. Tickets will go on sale roughly at the same time that announcement is made.
The festival is being announced as part of the Women in the World Summit, a gathering of women activists, artists, public figures, and CEOs that is now in its tenth year. In a release unveiling the festival, the backers not that “…too often women’s stories and creative voices have been marginalized. Through screenings, conversations and performance, 51Fest aims to correct that imbalance.”
Women in the World is backed by former New Yorker and Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown.
“Women make up more than half of our population, and 51Fest puts women where they belong: at the center of the story,” Brown said in a statement.
The festival’s core leadership team will include Program Director Anne Hubbell, the producer of “Paint It Black”; Executive Director Raphaela Neihausen, who also is Executive Director of IFC Center’s successful DOC NYC and Split Screens festivals; and Women in the World Senior Producer Nicole Savini, a former producer of “Late Night With Stephen Colbert.”
“I’m excited and energized to showcase the diversity of women’s voices and an array of female characters across genres and platforms,” Hubbell said in a statement.
Neihausen, in a separate statement, added that “We look forward to presenting one-of-a-kind events that will engage, entertain and inspire audiences.”