Lack of Female Directors Revealed as SXSW Announces Films in Competition

February 5, 2015
Mo Scarpelli and Alexandria Bombach
Filmmakers Mo Scarpelli and Alexandria Bombach’s Frame by Frame will be in competition at SXSW

The annual Austin-based film festival South by Southwest announced its highest-profile films that will be in competition and the line-up featured a surprising lack of female directors. Of the twenty films that will be competing in the festival, which runs March 13-31, five were directed by women, or 25%.

While this rate is significantly more than the 6% of the 250 top-grossing films that were directed by women in 2013, it is still noteworthy as independent film tends to exhibit far more gender parity than Hollywood films. A 2013 Sundance study found that between 2002 and 2012, 29.8% of filmmakers at Sundance were female and that number has been continuing to grow, especially in the area of documentary film.

Accordingly, the majority of the female filmmakers in competition at this year’s South by Southwest festival are in the documentary category, with three of the ten documentary films directed by women, including Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpellis’ Frame by Frame, Samantha Futerman’s co-directed Twinsters, and Alex Sichel and Elizabeth Giamatti’s A Woman Like Me. In the narrative category, two films by women will be competing against eight other films, including Hannah Fidell’s 6 Years and Alison Bagnall’s Funny Bunny.

Elsewhere during the festival, audiences will get a chance to view a work in progress version of Trainwreck, the upcoming film written by and starring funny lady Amy Schumer. In addition, Melissa McCarthy’s upcoming film Spy will have its gala premiere, reuniting her with Bridesmaids and The Heat director Paul Feig, who will also be directing the actress in the upcoming, all-female Ghostbusters reboot. In addition, Beyond the Lights director Gina Prince-Bythewood and Selma director Ava DuVernay will both be giving keynote speeches.