How independent female directors performed at film festivals during the pandemic

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Female directors were more likely to see their documentaries screened at film festivals than their narrative feature films, according to a new study.

Women made up 42% of directors, screenwriters, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers in documentaries shown at Sundance, SXSW, AFI, New York Film Festival and other annual cinema celebrations. On the other hand, they represented 35% of those who worked on narrative feature films at these same festivals. The report, which was produced by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, examined 7,452 credits out of 582 films screened at 20 high-profile film festivals in the United States. United. like Sian Heder (“CODA”), Amber Sealey (“No Man of God”), Mariem Pérez Riera (“Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It”) and Rebecca Hall (“Passing”), scored some of the best deals and best reviews of the film festival season. These gains took place against the backdrop of a global pandemic that has forced most film festivals to take place virtually.

In almost every behind-the-scenes role, documentaries employed higher percentages of women than narrative feature films. Forty-one percent of the directors of documentaries screened at festivals were women compared to 37% for narrative feature films. Women represented 45% of executive producers on documentaries vs. 31% on narrative feature films, 50% of producers on documentaries vs. 40% on narrative feature films, 40% of editors on documentaries vs. 34% on feature films narrative and 26% of cinematographers on documentaries versus 19% on narrative features. The only exception was in terms of writing credits, where women writers on narrative feature films edged those working on non-fiction films by 37% to 35%.

“The results confirm that women continue to enjoy higher employment rates in documentaries than in narrative feature films,” said Professor Martha Lauzen, executive director of the center and author of the report. “Each iteration of this study since 2008 has shown that women fare better in the world of documentaries.”

Since the start of the study, the percentage of films directed by women screened at festivals has increased considerably. In 2008, for example, the festivals highlighted 28 documentaries directed by women. Last year that number increased from 46.4% to 41. Narratively, the women made 15 feature films which were screened at festivals in 2008. This number has more than doubled over the decade. which followed and rose to 37 in the most recent period.

Films with female directors were more likely to employ more women, according to the report. The percentages of women working in key behind-the-scenes roles have more than doubled in female director-directed films. Film festivals play a vital role in launching careers, giving artists the opportunity to see, sell and re-watch their films, which helps land future concerts.


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