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

    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.

    February 5, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 2588

  • Selma Director and Star to Reunite for Hurricane Katrina Film

    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.

    January 29, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 1929

  • New Studies Shine Spotlight on Gender Inequality in Hollywood

    Gine Prince-Bythewood on the set of Beyond the Lights

    Director Gina Prince-Bythewood and actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw on the set of last year’s Beyond the Lights. (Photo: 2013 Blackbird Productions, Suzanne Tenner)

    In the wake of last Thursday’s Oscar nominations—and the public protest they incited over the predominantly white and male nominees—a number of studies were released both right before and after the nominations that offer a significant insight into how the lack of gender and racial diversity is perpetuated both on and behind the screen in Hollywood.

    While the fact that the Academy’s voting members are 93% white and 77% male has been repeated incessantly since the Oscar announcements, a trio of recent studies highlight the fact that an equally pressing issue lies in who is working behind the camera. With this year’s Oscars representing the whitest group of candidates since 1998, little advancement has also been made in the number of minorities and women employed in key behind-the-scenes roles, with women making up 17% of the directors, writers, executive producers, producers, editors, and cinematographers on the top 250 films of 2014. As the Center for the Study in Television and Film at San Diego State University highlights, this is exactly the same percentage as those employed in 1998.

    This goes a ways to explaining why only 37, or 15% of the top-earning films of 2014 featured a lead female protagonist, which is the same percentage as 2013 and a statistic that has remained steady since 2002. And while many of the top-grossing films—including The Hunger Games Mockingjay – Part I, Maleficent, and Gone Girl—of 2014 all featured female protagonists in the lead role, showing that there is a significant appetite amongst filmgoers for female-led movies, there exists a clear resistance amongst those making the choices of which films get made and who is working behind the camera.

    The lack of diversity behind the camera also stretches to the small screen, as a five-year study ranging from 2009 to 2014 by the Directors Guild of America found that only 18% of first-time directors of episodic TV shows were women, with minorities only making up %13 of first-time television directors.

    These statistics showcasing the lack of women behind the camera are especially pertinent when considering that research shows that there is a 10.6% increase in female characters on screen when a woman is directing and an 8.7% increase when a woman is the screenwriter. With women making up only 7% of directors—down from 9% in 1998—and 13% of screenwriters on the top 250 films of 2014, it is clear that an increase in the presence of women behind the scenes would likely lead to a growth on screen.

    And while these recent findings paint a bleak picture for women looking to entering the film and television industries, there are many advocates and organizations out there aiming to reverse this trend and provide avenues to help jumpstart careers. One particularly promising addition to the film festival landscape of 2015 is the inauguration of the Bentonville Film Festival, led by actress and renowned gender activist Geena Davis, which not only showcases only female and minority films, but also awards the inners with theatrical, TV digital, and retail home distribution, making it the only film festival to do so.

    January 20, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 2549

  • Charlize Theron Bridges Hollywood Pay Gap Following Sony Hack

    Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth at the Golden Globes

    Photo: John Shearer, AP

    It’s been over a month since last year’s Sony hacks resulted in The Interview being pulled from major theaters and a massive amount of information that the studio would have rather kept quiet becoming public knowledge. However, one positive that has slowly emerged from the hacks has been a wider recognition of the vast inequality in pay between male and female actors.

    After the news broke that American Hustle stars Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams received seven percent of the film’s back-end profits while their male counterparts all earned nine percent, Page Six recently reported that Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron negotiated that be paid the same amount as her male co-star Chris Hemsworth, who shares the screen in their upcoming film The Huntsmen. Theron was in fact able to raise her salary to a deal worth over $10 million, which is the same amount that Hemsworth is receiving.

    While it is unclear what Theron was earning before the hack revealed Hemsworth’s salary, after the news broke Theron and her agents insisted that she receive the same due to her fantastic track record at the box office. The Huntsmen, which is being released by Universal Pictures, is a prequel to 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman and is slated for an April 2016 release.

    January 13, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 2371

  • Gender Inequality in Film

    In light of the record-breaking opening of the female-led action film Hunger Games: Catching Fire this past weekend, the New York Film Academy decided to take a closer look at women in film and what, if any, advancements women are making. After reviewing the data, it is clear that Hollywood remains stuck in its gender bias. Of course, it’s not all disparaging news and there are a number of female filmmakers, characters, and emerging talent challenging the status quo. In addition, in the independent sphere, women made up roughly half of the directors at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, yet still struggle when it comes to films receiving a wide release. By shedding light on gender inequality in film, we hope to start a discussion about what can be done to increase women’s exposure and power in big-budget films.

    New York Film Academy's Gender Inequality in Film Infographic

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    November 25, 2013 • Infographics • Views: 301487