Related news and articles. Contents:
The report, entitled “Inclusion in the Director’s Chair” analyzes new data on movies released in 2018. Authored by Professor Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the report is the most comprehensive intersectional analysis of directors of motion pictures to date. A total of 1,335 directors working on the 1,200 top-grossing films released between 2007 and 2018 were assessed for gender, race, and age. For the first time, the study includes data on producers and multiple below-the-line film crew positions across 300 top movies from 2016 to 2018. The analysis also focuses on women in executive and leadership ranks at major media companies.
"The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative has released a new report in partnership with TIME’S UP Entertainment, titled “Critic’s Choice 2.” It is the second from Dr. Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative to investigate inclusion among film reviewers and examines access and opportunity for film critics. The report uses reviews of the 300 top-grossing films from 2015-2017 posted on the site Rotten Tomatoes to assess gender and race/ethnicity of critics, finding that reviewers are overwhelmingly white and male."
Summer 2018, the annual study, named Inequality in 1,100 Popular Films was released by Dr. Stacy L. Smith and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at USC Annenberg released their annual study, titled Inequality in 1,100 Popular Films. "The study reveals how little top-grossing movies have changed when it comes to the on-screen prevalence and portrayal of females, underrepresented racial/ ethnic groups, the LGBT community, and individuals with disabilities. The study is the largest and most comprehensive intersectional analysis of characters in motion picture content to date."
June 11, 2018 - The report, titled “Critic's Choice?” is the first from Associate Professor of Communication Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative to investigate inclusion among film reviewers, and examines access and opportunity for film critics. The report uses reviews of the 100 top grossing films of 2017 posted on the site Rotten Tomatoes to assess gender and race/ethnicity of critics, finding that reviewers are overwhelmingly white and male.
Jan 2018, a new report titled Inclusion in the Director’s Chair? was released by Professor Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. "The report is the most comprehensive intersectional analysis of directors of motion pictures to date, combining data on the gender, race, and age of 1,223 filmmakers working on 1,100 top-grossing films released between 2007 and 2017. The analysis also focuses on women in executive and leadership ranks at major media companies. The results reveal that for female, Black and Asian directors, the doors to Hollywood remain mostly closed."
January 10, 2018 WIFTV Vice President Shannon Kaplun was interviewed by Global News in regards to pay inequality in the film & television industry.
January 2018 - Dr. Martha M. Lauzen released a study sponsored by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film titled, The Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women on the Top 100, 250, and 500 Films of 2017. “The Celluloid Ceiling has tracked women’s employment on top grossing films for the last 20 years. It is the longest-running and most comprehensive study of women’s behind-the scenes employment in film available.”
December 2017 -Participation and Representation Gaps was posted on Making a New Reality on December 26, 2017. The article outlines the concerns that a selection of interviewees have about the larger social effects of a lack of representation in the arts. Funded by the Ford Foundation, Making a New Reality is a research project by Kamal Sinclair investigating strategies for achieving equality and justice in emerging media.
November 29, 2017 CTV's Scott Hurst interviewed WIFTV's Vice President, Shannon Kaplun in regards to sexual harassment in the film & television industry. What the article missed from their interview was their discussion on gender parity in the film and TV industry. Gender parity is key to the solution to sexual harassment.
July 10, 2017 - TIFF announced and began the fundraising for Share Her Journey, “a five-year commitment to increasing participation, skills, and opportunities for women behind and in front of the camera.”
May 15, 2017 — Chairman JP Blais and Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) made an announcement regarding gender inequality in Canadian programming as a part of their broadcast decision
"The Commission considers that women’s access to key leadership positions is an important issue and that intervention by the Commission is necessary to further the achievement of this objective of the Act."
March 8, 2017 — The Canada Media Fund (CMF) announced today a series of tangible measures it will put in place to increase women in key roles on CMF-funded productions. These include concrete changes to the CMF’s guidelines and policies, a commitment to achieving gender parity in all juries that are put in place to evaluate projects, and support for third-party initiatives, among other measures to be implemented in the upcoming fiscal year and subsequently.
March 8, 2017 — At last year’s festival, the National Film Board (NFB) announced its commitment that by 2019, 50% of its productions would be directed by women and 50% of all production spending will be allocated to films directed by women. This year, Claude Joli-Coeur returned to update the industry on the NFB’s progress and announce that the NFB is aiming to achieve gender parity (50%) in key creative positions for animated, documentary and interactive works in production as of 2020. The initiative targets editing, cinematography, screenwriting and music composition and includes key creative positions related to animation and immersive/interactive storytelling, where women are decidedly in the minority—positions such as art director, art designer and creative technologist.
January 30, 2017 — CMF Trends by the Canadian Media Fund released the report Women & Leadership: Study of Gender Parity and Diversity in Canada’s Screen Industries. The study attempts to answer key questions about what strategies, programs and practices have been used that have a positive effect on gender equality and cultural diversity in the screen industries and what can be learned from them.
November 9, 2016 — CBC has introduced its Breaking Barriers Film Fund and committed to investing at least $7.5 million dollars over three years to help underrepresented creators.
November 11, 2016 — Telefilm Canada, as a first step, is pleased to reveal its gender parity measures for feature film production financing, developed in collaboration with the industry. Telefilm aims by 2020 to achieve a balanced production portfolio (at all budget levels) that reflects gender parity in each of the key roles of director, writer and producer.
September 2016 — Prepared for the Canadian Union for Equality on Screen (CUES), Amanda Coles's detailed report on directors and gender inequality in the Canadian screen-based industry can be read here.
September 8, 2016 — Telefilm pledged to have a feature-film portfolio that better reflects gender, diversity and Canada’s indigenous communities by 2020.
June 13, 2016 — The CBC announced that at least half of the episodes on upcoming seasons of some scripted series including Murdoch Mysteries and Heartland will be directed by women.
April 27, 2016 — Telefilm Canada and the Canada Media Fund issued a joint statement, committing to “viable and lasting solutions” to bring about gender parity in screen content financing.
March 8, 2016 — On International Women's day, the National Film Board announced that half of its films will be directed by women and half of its budget will go to productions directed by women.
April 21, 2015 — Women in Film Los Angeles and the Sundance Institute published Phase III of its study "Female Filmmakers Initiative – Exploring the Careers of Female Directors". The collaboration between Women in Film Los Angeles and the Sundance Institute began with the intention to foster gender parity for women behind the camera. So far 3 reports exploring the “systemic obstacles and opportunities facing women in American independent film” have been published. The reports are the work of Professor Stacy Smith and her team at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. In short, Phase III explores how female directors fare after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival. It assesses the types of films, distribution deals, and exhibition patterns of male and female U.S. Dramatic Competition directors. Then, through industry interviews with filmmakers, buyers, and sellers, it examines the unique impediments female filmmakers face. Read the full article here.
January 23, 2015 — Starting this February, 50% of the funds awarded through Bell Media’s BravoFACT and BravoFACTUAL program will go towards female-lead film projects. Read the full article here.
July 2014 — You can find "Gender within Film Crews" by Stephen Follows here.
July 30, 2014 — And now for some good news on attitudes toward gender equality:
According to a recent study, less than one-third of Americans believe male breadwinner-female homemaker families are the ideal, down from 66% in 1977. The study, by Youngjoo Cha, sociology professor at Indiana University, also found – among other indicators - that 65% of Americans disagreed that preschool children suffer if their mothers work, up from about 30% in 1977.
This is a hopeful sign, because, as you may have noticed, while gender equality had increasing support from the 1970s to the mid 90s in North America, that upward trend seemed to stall since. Some academics even began referring to the “Stalled Gender Revolution.”
A second report providing evidence of growing gender equality support was recently published by the Council on Contemporary Families. The authors, who presented their work at a CCF “Gender Revolution Rebound Symposium,” found the recent attitude shift true for both men and women, among all age groups, and for all political affiliations.
What kickstarted (re-started) the increase in gender equality support? Stephanie Coontz, professor of history and family studies at Evergreen State College, posits that the 2008 recession might have something to do with it. She feels that the 2008 economic downturn, like the Great Depression of the 30s, may have reminded people of the importance of women’s labour.
For more details see this Washington Post article by Brigid Schulte.
Published 2014 — “Women like Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Kristin Wiig and Melissa McCarthy are true trailblazers and just a few of the reasons that women are making strides in comic films. Activists and advocates should take aim at action/adventure and animation films,” Stacy Smith, Professor and Director of the Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative at USC Annenberg.
Smith and her research team examined more than 25,000 speaking characters in 600 films released between 2007 and 2013. They found that on average females comprised only 30.7% of all actors who spoke. But in 2012 and 2013 the percentages were down even further, to 28.4% and 29.2% respectively. The genre breakdown for 2013 was: Comedy 36%, Action/Adventure 23.9%, Animation 24.6%. Perhaps those declining numbers were related to 2013 representing a six-year low for women writers and directors.
One bright note in the results was that 2013 marked a decline in female teen hypersexualization on screen – reversing the trend of the previous three years. However, a consistent finding over the 6-year span of the study was that female characters are far much more likely than male characters to be wearing sexually revealing clothing or be partially naked on screen. The MDSC study is considered the most comprehensive analysis of gender prevalence in recent films to date.
The full report can be found here.
To hear a podcast of Stacy Smith discussing her research with Robin Morgan click.
Why is it that 50% of authors on the New York Times bestseller list are women, while just 8% of spec scripts sold in 2013 were created by females?
In a July 8th, 2014 column, Scott Myers, writing for The Blacklist – Go Into The Story, writes, “Last year I posted this: ‘Recently we have seen quite a few studies and analysis pointing out gender inequality in the entertainment business including independent film, television, even the theater. Now we can add spec scripts to the mix.’”
Myers and author/number-cruncher Susana Orozco compiled the statistics on spec scripts sold from 1991 to 2013 and found that the average percentages of female authors of successful scripts have declined substantially in the last 3 years: 14% from 1991 to 2000; 13% from 2001 to 2010; 9% from 2011 to 2013 (8% in 2013 as noted above). Myers notes that while it’s impossible to track every spec transaction, the statistics above are based on the best information available.
Myers has no explanation for this trend, but wonders rhetorically: “Does this mean there are fewer women interested in screenwriting?” He then refutes that notion by pointing out that 28.6% of applicants for the 2013 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting were women. At Women in Film and Television we all know talented women screenwriters, so what’s really going on?
To see the article and an info-graphic of the statistics click here.
To learn more about the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, check out the link.
Speaking about Valka, mother of the protagonist in “How To Train Your Dragon 2”, writer Tasha Robinson proclaims that the character is knowledgeable, wise principled, joyous, divided, damaged, vulnerable. In fact, “She’s something female characters so often aren’t in action/adventure films with male protagonists: She’s interesting. Too bad the story gives her absolutely nothing to do.”
And that seems to be the trend for so called “Strong Female Characters” in films these days according to Robinson. She sees a “cultural push going on for years now to get female characters in mainstream films some agency, self-respect, confidence and capability. . .” But for all the talk about those strong females in recent films Robinson feels that most of it is empty PR, citing WyldStyle in The Lego Movie, Tauriel in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Carol Marcus in Star Trek: Into Darkness and Mako Mori in Pacific Rim, Dahl in Reddick, and Julia in Oblivion who - she argues persuasively - are either sacrificed or make sacrifices ensure the hero success, or serve as the love interest, or are, in the end, irrelevant to the plot.
Ms. Robinson has created a pithy yet humourous questionnaire for all filmmakers “who’ve created a female character who isn’t a dishrag, a harpy, a McGuffin to be passed around, or a sex toy.” One of the questions is: “Could your Strong Female Character be seamlessly replace with a floor lamp with some useful information written on it to help make a hero?”
To read the entire article and the questionnaire – and you should – click on the link.
“Real change often requires making problems more visible, human and clear: to translate cold statistics in human stories so that talk turns to action.” The American Civil Liberties Association
Are you a woman director? Do you feel that you have faced gender discrimination? If so, the American Civil Liberties Association wants to hear about it.
Quoting figures from the study “The Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women in the Top 250 films of 2013” by Martha M. Lauzen, the ACLU reports that only 6% of directors working on the top grossing 250 films of 2013 were women – a 3% decrease from 2012! The article also notes that despite a lawsuit in the 1980s that led to an agreement between the Directors Guild of America and Hollywood studios to improve the hiring of women and people of colour the number of working women directors has actually declined.
The ACLU wants you – and/or women directors you know - to share your stories and they are conducting a call-out for submissions. To participate, please click here.
To see the findings of “The Celluloid Ceiling” - which looks at the numbers for women writers, executive producers, producers, editors and cinematographers as well as directors - click here.
“Movies that are female-driven do not travel. There are almost no women who have sales value in multiple international territories, maybe with the exception of Sandra Bullock.” Krista Smith, West Coast editor of Vanity Fair.
According to Walt Hickey, FiveThirtyEight lead lifestyle writer, that attitude is extremely common in the industry. “Audiences and creators know that on one level or another, there’s an inherent gender bias in the movie business — whether it’s the disproportionately low number of films with female leads, the process of pigeonholing actresses into predefined roles (action chick, romantic interest, middle-aged mother, etc.), or the lack of serious character development for women on screen compared to their male counterparts.”
To check the validity of Krista Smith’s claim, FiveThirtyEight asked statistician and author Nate Silver to look at 1,615 films released between 1990 and 2013. Silver found that the median budgets of films that passed the Bechdel test were 35 percent lower than those that failed. But he also found that those films garnered a 37% higher return on investment in the US and that ROI was equal to male-centric films in international markets.
Hickey is hopeful that such analyses will help turn the attitudinal tide. “Hollywood is the business of making money. Since our data demonstrates that films containing meaningful interactions between women do better at the box office than movies that don’t, it may be only a matter of time before the data of dollars and cents overcomes the rumors and prejudices defining the budgeting process of films for, by and about women.”
And isn’t that why we belong to WIFTV?
To read the full report check out their website.
“We looked at all sorts of fields: education, business, mid-level management, executives and across all these settings there was either no significant difference or women were viewed as more effective.” Samantha Paustian-Underdahl, assistant professor of management at Florida International University
Professor Paustian-Underdahl has conducted a meta-analysis of a large number of management studies to see if people assume men are better leaders than women. It turns out not to be the case. In fact, the perception may be just the opposite. One explanation may be the growing emphasis on teamwork and collaboration in mid-level management and that women are seen to have better people skills, something necessary to that type of management. Another perception may be that in order to reach a CEO-level position, a woman must be exceptionally talented and/or competent.
Paustian-Underdahl also looked at studies in which individuals evaluated their own management skills. “Women feel that they’re not as effective, which may mean that they’re less likely to step up and ask for a raise or a promotion,” she says. It’s not clear how much this lessened self-confidence may hurt their careers. Could it be the reason for the lower numbers of female CEOs and politicians (and highly paid filmmakers)? Professor Paustian-Underdahl feels that the lack of self-promotion may be a factor but she believes a highly probable cause is that the men already in leadership positions have an “inclination to promote other men – a sort of group favoritism.” However, she feels her study has eliminated one potential cause: the lack of ability of women to lead.
Full article here.
The European Audiovisual Observatory, a Strasbourg-based, pan- European organization created in 1992 to collect and distribute information about the audiovisual industries in Europe, has organized the above-titled workshop to be held the first Saturday of the Cannes Film Market. Three major market studies on the contribution of women to today’s film industry will be presented, followed by a panel discussion on the challenges facing women working in film today and “how to even the odds.”
As well, the Cannes jury will be comprised of 5 women (Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, Carol Bouquet, Lelia Hatami, Do-yeon Jeon) and 4 men (Willen Dafoe, Gael Garcia Bernal, Shangke Jia, Nicolas Winding Refn). Still, only two women are in Competition this year (out of 18 nominees) – Alice Rohrwacher with Le meraviglie and Naomi Kawase with Still The Water – and another seven in Un Certain Regard (out of 19 nominees). Parallel sections Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week each include two female directors in the feature sections.
While the focus on women in this year’s Cannes is applauded, critics say it’s not good enough to discuss this once a year - this is an issue that needs to be tackled year round. We say: Let’s have both!
“ . . . don't underestimate the value of hard, cool female characters who have their own agency. That’s the thing we’re not doing enough as filmmakers.” Chris McKay, the animation director of The Lego Movie.
Even though The Lego Movie, released in February and grossing over $400 million dollars internationally to date, features the character Wyldstyle (voiced by Elizabeth Banks), McKay doubts the film passes the Bechdel test. He's has been hired to direct the sequel and promises better female representation. "Sexism is something that's part of our culture and something that we need to adjust,” says McKay.
Last month, Cate Blanchett also addressed Hollywood's notion that films featuring female characters weren't as popular when she accepted the best actress Oscar for Blue Jasmine. "Those in the industry who are foolishly clinging to the idea that female films, with women in the centre are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them. In fact they earn money.”
On a down note: In a new study, The 2014 Hollywood Writers Report, the Writers Guild of America reports the percentage of female TV and film writers declined from 2009 to 2012. For TV, the numbers fell from 28% to 27%, and for film the decline was 17% to 15%. The report also states that the gender wage gap is increasing, noting female writers earned 77 cents for every dollar earned by male peers in 2012, down from 82 cents in 2009.
The positive thing is that people are talking about the problem. Let’s continue the conversation wherever possible.
The Bechdel test has proven an intriguing -- if far from wholly accurate -- method of figuring out a film's level of female character development. Are there two women in a given film? Do they talk to each other -- and about something other than men? In a fascinating piece on FiveThirtyEight, the Bechdel test is assessed from a financial standpoint. The conclusions are both depressing and hopeful.
Read the full article here.
"Insidiously, children’s books with girl protagonists sometimes celebrate their heroines to a fault. Isn’t it amazing that a girl did these things, they seem to say — implying that these heroines are a freakish exception to their gender, not an inspiration for readers to follow.” - science and environmental journalist, Michelle Nijhuis.
In her entertaining article “ The Last Word on Nothing” Nijhuis relates how her young daughter declared that Bilbo Baggins was definitely a girl and insisted that the story be read that way. She reports that the switch was easy. "So Bilbo, with her matter-of-fact derring-do, was refreshing. With a wave of my staff I turned Gandalf into a girl, too, with similarly happy results. I started to fool around with other books and their major and minor characters, sometimes by request and sometimes not."
Nijhuis goes on to mention a study led by Janice McCabe, a professor of sociology at Florida State University. Dr. McCabe and her colleagues examined 6000 picture books published between 1900 and 2000 and found that only 31 percent had female central characters. "The disproportionate numbers of males in central roles may encourage children to accept the invisibility of women and girls and to believe they are less important than men and boys, thereby reinforcing the gender system.” In observing mothers reading picture books with their children, the study’s authors noted that even gender-neutral animal characters were frequently labelled as male by the mothers, which only "exaggerates the pattern of female underrepresentation.”
Nijhuis’ article and the link to the study can be found here.
We challenge all you writers (and parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents) out there to try switching the genders of some of your characters. Does it take a considerable re-write or, like Lord of the Rings, is it easy?
“There is something strange about the absence of women in cinema talking. Aren’t women supposed to always be talking? Of course, they’re not meant to be talking about anything important, which is presumably why the camera only turns to them when men are mentioned.” Nina Power in One-Dimensional Woman (2009).
Does this remind you of the Bechdel test? That test prompted Power’s remark. Maybe you’ve missed some of the Advocacy Committee’s earlier posts and are not sure what the test entails. Here’s the scoop: To pass the Bechdel test (named after cartoonist Alison Bechdel who conceived to the measure in 1985) the movie has to have 2 or more female characters who have names and who talk to each other about something other than a man.
Nina Power wonders how often real life passes the Bechdel test and what the influence of film (and by extension, other media) on that might be. “Contemporary cinema is profoundly conservative in this regard; the fact that it both reflects and dictates modes of current behavior is depressingly effective, and effectively depressing.” Whether you subscribe to this rather pessimistic view or not, why not test it out when you have your next eavesdropping opportunity?
"Before you go to bed tonight, remember: women directed BOTH Wayne’s World and American Psycho can direct anything." Script Chix.
To prove that statement ScriptChix has compiled a list, the Top 100 Movies of All Time . . . By Female Directors. Script Chix is the brainchild of "two chix and a dude" - producers Sandra Leviton and Miranda Sajdak and producer/writer Hosam Solaiman, who run a consulting service for screenwriters when they are not working on their own projects. To come up with their Top 100 list they combed through other best-of lists to compile one exclusive to women directors. The Script Chix acknowledge the shortcomings of the list and are looking for suggestions of additions, particularly films by non-Caucasian and non-American filmmakers, but the list does provide a great source for your in-home movie night selections.
The ScriptChix site contains other entertaining best lists such as: Greatest Female TV Characters, Favorite Female TV Characters . . . Round 2, Favorite Female Movie Mentors, and Wasted Women: TVs Funniest Drunk Ladies (complete with illustrative clips).
"This is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen illustrating how when women and men do the same things, they are seen in completely different ways." Sheryl Sandburg, CEO Facebook Inc. and author of Lean In.
The video she is referring to is actually a commercial made for Pantene Philippines by ad agency BBDO. Whether her praise is over the top is up to you, but I think you'll agree that the message is a real departure for Pantene's parent company Proctor and Gamble. Check out the video and Jack Neff's interesting input on it at AdvertisingAge.
BTW, if you read the commentary about the ad on its YouTube page you'll see a reference to the Global Gender Gap Report for 2013. The Philippines rank #5 out of 136 countries, Canada #20 and the US #23. Interesting reading.
On the grinchy side, another YouTube video contributor has compiled a video titled: How the Media Failed Women in 2013. Yes, it's mostly clips from US media but remember that many of the excerpts are from programs and films viewed by millions of people around the world. If the piece brings you down, go back and watch the first 35 seconds to help pick up your mood off the floor.
"Female-helmed projects are mistakenly perceived to lack commercial viability, and narrative film projects rely on a funding structure that is primarily operated by men." Mynette Louie, producer and President of Gamechanger Films
Gamechanger Films, based in New York, is planning to change that attitude by helping female directors get their projects into theatres. The newly formed fund will provide financing solely to films directed or co-directed by women and aims to supply the budgets of 10 narrative feature films in the next few years. Geena Davis, Madeline Di Nonno, Ellen Barkin and Abigail Disney are among the members of the Gamechanger advisory board.
See their website for more details.
There is a hitch, however, in that Gamechanger will not be accepting unsolicited submissions. (see the FAQ page on the Gamechanger website). One suggested route to getting your foot in the Gamechanger door is through Film Independent Fast Track, a film financing market that takes place during the Los Angeles Film Festival. The Fast Track program, run by Film Independent-organizers of the Los Angeles Film Festival-is designed to "help narrative and documentary filmmakers move their current projects forward." Visit the website.
During three days of intensive meetings, Fast Track connects filmmakers with financiers, production companies, and other industry professionals. The program is open to established as well as up-and-coming filmmakers of all nationalities. Participants accepted into Fast Track are also eligible for a $15,000 production grant award by the Alfred P Sloan Foundation and a $10,000 Millenium Entertainment Fellowship.
The Fast Track application deadline is Jan. 9th and the application fee is $65 for non-members and $45 for members of Film Independent. The LA Film Festival is in June.
Variety Magazine has chosen its 10 Directors to Watch for 2013 and for the first time five of the directors are female. This looks like a good news story but the cynics say otherwise.
The women recognized are: Amma Asante (Belle), Clio Barnard (The Selfish Giant), Maya Forbes (Infinity Polar Bear), Gita Pullapilly (Beneath the Harvest Sky, co-directed with Aron Gaudet), Gren Wells (The Road Within).
However, the cynical view is that Variety is atoning for publishing a sexist critique of an HBO special created by comic Sarah Silverman. The article, written by Brian Lowry, prompted an outcry. Was Variety's 10 to Watch list constructed to make amends? We like to think otherwise - that these are, indeed, directors whose careers are worthy of watching. But if you're curious about what started the controversy, click on this link to a critique of the Lowry piece plus a link to the original article.
See the complete Variety 10 Directors to Watch list.
Some of you will have seen the WIFTV Advocacy Committee post at the end of September about the Bechdel test of film content. In case you missed that, the Bechdel test is named after Alison Bechdel, whose 1985 comic strip inspired its development. In order to pass the test a film must contain 1) at least two female characters 2) that talk to each other 3) about something besides men. While the criteria of the Bechdel test seems to set the bar ridiculously low, the number of films passing the test is shockingly small.
Four independent theatres in Sweden have launched a campaign to rate films via the Bechdel test. Films will be approved with an "A-rating" if they pass. Having nothing to do with the film's overall quality, the rating is simply meant to raise awareness and direct attention towards the representation of gender. Other theatres in Sweden are considering following suit. The story received prominent coverage in both the National Post and the Vancouver Sun. Please take part in helping create a critical mass of attention to the issue of under- and misrepresentation of women in film and television by passing along this post.
For a list of some prominent movies, including Run Lola Run, that failed the Bechdel test, and the reasons why, check out this link.
“I felt proud and delighted - as did the other women who were nominees or winners - that the evening was more gender balanced than we had ever experienced at a major award event.” WIFTV member Anne Wheeler.
Anne is speaking of The Directors Guild of Canada 12th annual DGC award ceremony held in Toronto on October 26th. Four women directors were among those recognized: Deepa Mehta (Midnight’s Children) Best Feature Film; Anne Wheeler (The Horses of McBride) Best Direction – Television Movies/Mini-Series; Kari Skogland (The Borgias: The Choice) Best Television Series – Drama; and Sarah Polley (Stories We Tell) The Allen King Award for Excellence in Documentary. Women were very well represented throughout both production and post-production categories. An evening highlight was the presentation of the Don Haldane Distinguished Service Award to veteran producer Lee Gordon. Lee spoke by video about her eventful career starting as a script supervisor in the 1950s. Her credits include the films Nikki: Wild Dog of the North, A Way Out and Along the Way and she was a founding member of the DGC in 1962. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners.
See the full list of the award winners.
"Homogeneity is the Enemy of Creativity: So why are we so male? And so white?"
Sadly, gender imbalance is rife throughout all media industries. Does this sound familiar: “More than 80% of all purchases are made by women. Yet most women say they don't like the way they're marketed to. Is it a coincidence that only 3% of all ad agency creatives are women?" The writer is Kat Gordon, an advertising copywriter, and she decided to do something about the situation by creating The 3% Conference plus a series of roadshows on the issue. The next conference is in San Francisco Oct. 16 & 17.
She also wrote an excellent piece for Communication Arts entitled: "Homogeneity is the Enemy of Creativity: So why are we so male? And so white?" Full article here.
Where are the women (and if you find some what are they saying)?
When you're at VIFF (or anytime at a movie theatre or watching Netflix, etc.) ask yourself the question: Does this film pass the Bechdel test? Not familiar with this simple test? Watch this two minute video with feminist frequency commentator Anita Sarkeesian.
Entrepreneurial, resourceful, tenacious and innovative – just a few of the qualities demonstrated by Canadian documentary makers who are finding alternative means of financing their projects. This is what lies at the heart of DOC’s latest research paper, Growing the Pie – Alternative Financing and Canadian Documentary.
Spurred by the calls of documentary filmmakers bemoaning that the traditional funding model for one-off and feature documentaries in Canada is “broken”, DOC undertook to find what other means producers are employing to finance their films.
Read the report here.
Melissa Silverstein writes from the Toronto Film Festival (see the link here) that the number of women directors represented this year was down 10% over last year and that as of September 12th (the festival ended on the 16th) none of their films had been picked up for distribution. In her blog post she lists the films she saw and indicates the ones directed by women. Another film in that category is Burning Bush directed by Agnieszka Holland (Europa Europa, The Secret Garden). It's actually a 3 part miniseries for Europe HBO, screened at TIFF in a 3 1/2 hour marathon to great acclaim. Be sure to watch for it.
A Report on gender (in)equality in the Canadian independent screen-based production industry, prepared by Canadian Unions for Equality on Screen (CUES).
This study examines gender roles of speaking characters in top-grossing films. Read the full article here.
In a revealing interview with Forbes' Dorothy Pomerantz on the occasion of the publication of the most powerful women in the world list, Sony studio chief Amy Pascal, the only female head of a major studio, actually answered some questions about the status of women in Hollywood, especially related to women directors.
Read the full article here.
At the Sundance Film Festival, a new, groundbreaking study of women directors called Exploring the Barriers and Opportunities for Independent Women Filmmakers was released.
The study outlines challenges that women face in the film industry like getting stereotyped as a ‘woman director’ and not getting hired because they are women.
Apparently, it’s the most comprehensive study of its type because it not only tracks information on the career trajectories of female directors but also writers, producers, cinematographers and editors.
The study was released by The Sundance Institute and Women in Film, with research conducted by Stacy L. Smith, Ph.D. Katherine Pieper, Ph.D. and Marc Choueiti at Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California.
Read the full research report here.
November 25, 2011 - Georgia Straight - "In almost every mainstream feature film and television program women and girls onscreen are outnumbered by men and boys by at least three to one and that number is even higher behind the camera ...."
Click here to read the full article.
The Vancouver Sun, Trade Talk by Malcolm Parry (Thursday, October 7, 2010)
Telefilm Canada has commissioned a report on the state of women in the Canadian Feature Film Industry. The news is not good.
The report states that while women receive more training than men in the Canadian industry, and attend film school in equal numbers, they work on lower budget films and have “less access” to public funds than their male counterparts. Read the full report.
Here are some startling facts on the demographics of moviegoers as gathered by the MPAA in 2009:
Bottom line: Women are more frequent moviegoers than men, yet less than 15% of women are directing. Why do movies made for and by men dominate the market? Read the full report here.