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  • Lack of Female Directors Revealed as SXSW Announces Films in Competition

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    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.

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    February 5, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 5438

  • Women and Film Roundup: Disney Announces Latina Princess; Soloway and DuVernay Get New Shows

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    Disney princess Elena of Avalor

    Elena of Avalor

    A big day of news for women in Hollywood as two female directors who had massive 2014’s land new shows while Disney announced the roll-out of their first-ever Latina princess.

    Starting with Disney, they recently announced that they will be introducing a Latina “princess” into their world of female protagonists with the creation of Elena of Avalor. However, unlike her fellow minority princesses such as Mulan, Pocahantas, and Tiana from The Princess and the Frog, right now Princess Elena will stay confined to the small screen as she will first appear on the immensely popular series Sofia the First before receiving her own show on the Disney Junior channel.

    With Latinos still drastically underrepresented on both film and television—while they make up 16% of the US population, they only account for less than 5% of speaking characters on screen— this is certainly a step in a better direction.

    Jill Soloway

    Jill Soloway

    Meanwhile, Transparent creator Jill Soloway, who recently won a Golden Globe for the show, is reported to be developing a new feminist-themed buddy comedy starring Ashley Skidmore and Lyle Friedman as two women who seek to save womankind after being struck by lightning. Both Skidmore and Friedman will also write for and executive produce the show.

    In the case of Selma director Ava DuVernay, who also just announced plans to direct a film about Hurricane Katrina, she is also now writing, directing, and executive producing an original series for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network. The show is based on Natalie Baszile’s novel Queen Sugar about a woman who uproots her teen daughter from their posh L.A. community to an 800-acre sugar cane farm in Louisiana. Production on the show is slated to begin later this year.

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    February 3, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 4211

  • Selma Director and Star to Reunite for Hurricane Katrina Film

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    Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo

    (from left) Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo

    Selma director Ava DuVernay and the film’s leading actor, David Oyelowo, continue their winning partnership following a recent screening of the film at the White House. The director recently announced that she will be writing, producing, and directing an untitled film about Hurricane Katrina that will star British actor David Oyelowo, making for the pair’s third film together following her breakthrough indie Middle of Nowhere and Oyelowo’s critically-praised turn as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma.

    The film will see DuVernay also working with another frequent partner, Participant Media which distributed Middle of Nowhere, for a film reported to circle around a grand love story and intricate murder mystery that takes place during the 2005 hurricane.

    In a quote given to The Hollywood Reporter, Participant Media’s Jonathan King praised DuVernay’s ability to infuse epic events with contemporary relevance while DuVernay emphasized her eagerness to re-team with both Participant and Oyelowo. In addition to starring in the film, Oyelowo is also in talks to come on board as a producer on the film.

    Check out our 2013 profile of DuVernay in our Gender Inequality infographic to learn more about this fast-rising force in film.

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    January 29, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 4523

  • Obama to Screen Selma at the White House

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    David Oyelowo and Ava Duvernay on the Selma set

    David Oyelowo and Ava DuVernay on the set of Selma. Photo: Paramount Pictures

    While Thursday did not go as largely expected for the cast and crew of Selma, who despite winning nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Song, did not receive nominations for its director Ava DuVernay and lead actor David Oyelowo, one additional accolade the film received yesterday was being picked by President Obama for a special screening at the Executive Mansion tonight, January 16. DuVernay and her cast were all invited, with Oyelowo, Common, and John Legend all slated to attend.

    The screening was announced late Thursday afternoon, hours after the nominations came through from LA and following growing rage on both social media and amongst activists who decried the total lack of performers of color from the Oscar nominations, with the Reverend Al Sharpton calling the nominations “appallingly insulting.”

    However, DuVernay sought to keep the mood positive, tweeting earlier in the day, “Happy Birthday, Dr. King. An Oscar gift for you. To SELMA cast + crew led by our miracle David Oyelowo. To Common + Legend! Kudos! March on!” Rapper Common and singer John Legend were nominated for their song “Glory” which picked up a Best Original Song award at Sunday’s Golden Globes and Common also shared his joy over his joint nomination on Twitter.

    This continues a tradition of Obama holding Hollywood screenings at the White House, with past screenings including Lincoln and Mandela: Long Walk Of Freedom. Furthermore, black business leaders across the country have joined together to sponsor free screenings of the civil rights film that chronicles Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to over 90,000 middle school and high school students across the country.

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    January 16, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 4521