Since the announcement of Academy Award nominations earlier this week, much has been written about the fact that no women directors are on the list for best director or best picture. Again. The “Bigelow Effect”— the expected rise in the number of female-directed films after Kathryn Bigelow won best director two years ago — never happened.
In fact, the number of women directors in Hollywood went down from 7% in 2009 and 2010 to 5% in 2011. And that’s just one depressing statistic. Check out Melissa Silverstein‘s article at Women and Hollywood for a behind-the-scenes look at the employment numbers. It’s not a pretty picture.
The Sundance Institute and Women In Film have decided to work together to do something about the situation. They announced Monday that they plan to track the female filmmakers who are showing films at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival (happening this week) and will use the results to increase the presence of women in all areas of filmmaking.
The project hopes to prompt a hard look at the disparity between the number of women in film and the number of men — and find ways to improve it.
Cathy Schulman, president of Women in Film, told reporters, “We’re going to get real-life data and formulate a vision to support, within the scope of both institutes, programs to change the statistics and make a real difference. Instead of talking about the problem every year, we hope to be part of a solution.”
The numbers certainly are better at Sundance. This year, women made 27% of the films shown. While that’s still not high enough, it’s certainly better 5%.
Women always have a stronger presence at film festivals, and finding out what happens to them afterward is valuable information. Why don’t women whose films have strong showings get other work? Do they even get meetings? Do films about men (like The Hurt Locker) get women directors better traction with studios?
Women In Film and the Sundance Channel also are hosting events at the festival to talk about the work of female filmmakers.
Granted, bringing change in male-dominated Hollywood will take time. But a concerted effort seems to be a start, especially given the likelihood that as the numbers of women behind-the-camera increase, the numbers of women on-camera will, too.
What do you think of Sundance and WIF’s project? Can tracking women filmmakers help them find success? Are you surprised that women directors still are struggling for recognition?