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Sundance: Study Finds Lack of Inclusion at Film Festivals

A study by the Time’s Up Foundation and USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative has found that women and people of color are vastly underrepresented at film festivals worldwide.

The new report, “Inclusion at Film Festivals,” examined the gender, race, and ethnicity of narrative film directors, film festival programmers, and executives from 2017-2019. The study was released Saturday, the third day of the Sundance Film Festival.

“Despite the progress that is underway, the fact is that the voices and talent of women and people of color remain marginalized,” said Dr. Stacy L. Smith, founder of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. “The data in this report makes it clear that the next generation of women of color filmmakers are not being launched into the industry at the same rate as their white male peers.”

The study will be released at Sundance during a panel conversation hosted in partnership with The Latinx House at 12:30 p.m. PST on Saturday. Panelists will include Dr. Smith, actress and director Eva Longoria, director Angela Robinson, and the Sundance Institute’s Dilcia Barrera.

Commissioned by the Time’s Up Foundation, the study analyzed the demographic makeup of film directors and festival programmers and executives across the top five global film festivals — Berlin, Cannes, Sundance, Toronto and Venice — and the top 10 North American film festivals. Globally, the study found that only 25% of directors in competition sections across the last three years were women.

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Only 8% of film directors in competition at the top five film festivals were women of color – compared to 47% white men and 17% white women. The study found the 10 North American festivals had selected films with 71% having male directors with 17% white women and 12% women of color.

“Film festivals play a critical role in shaping our culture, which is why representation and access is so critical,” said Tina Tchen, president and CEO of Time’s Up Foundation. “While some festivals are taking the lead in featuring the voices of women and women of color, this study drives home the need to expand opportunities for women festival programmers — and, in so doing, women directors — of all backgrounds. We can do better.”

Smith asserted that when film festivals are inclusive of women of color as programmers, there is a clear impact on the directors who get to participate. Festivals must ensure that their teams represent the audiences they hope to serve.”

The report is the latest from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, and can be found online here.

 

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