Why Are There So Few Female Directors Represented At Film Festivals? | YUYU YUYU

Why Are There So Few Female Directors Represented At Film Festivals?

Katie Cannon October 20, 2016 October 22nd, 2016

The New York Film Festival boasted a pretty lady-centric lineup this year: with Ava DuVornay’s harrowing documentary THE 13TH kicking off the festival preceding a host of other woman-oriented flicks, NYFF was poised to be a paragon of feminist cinema.

A couple of the festival’s biggest hits didn’t play coy with their feminine perspectives, naming their subjects outright: both CERTAIN WOMEN and WOMEN OF THE 20TH CENTURY seem guaranteed to pass the Bechdel Test with flying colors, even in the latter was directed by a man, Mike Mills’s.

And yet.

5 of the 25 Main Slate films were helmed by women directors–25%. A quarter shouldn’t sound all that groundbreaking, when you consider that women make up 50% of the world’s population; if anything, it should sound sad and regressive. But when you look at the Hollywood statistics–in which female directors only make up 7.5% of the 100 top-grossing films–a quarter of the Main Slate seems major.

In an essay for Indie Wire, Lauren de Graf examines the obstacles inherent in being a woman in the directing biz. While women are doing better than ever in the industry, it’s still not enough–other categories in NYFF, for example, included only one or even zero female directors. De Graff cites quite a few disturbing stats: only 4.1% of the reported 800 “most popular” films are directed by women; and two of Hollywood’s biggest studios, Paramount and 20th Century fox, have exactly ZERO female-helmed projects on deck for 2018.

De Graf seems to suggest that NYFF should be held accountable for diversifying the director’s pool, asking: “What role do festivals like NYFF play in repairing broader, systemic inequalities in the film industry, such as gender disparity among directors?”

But Leslie Klainberg, Executive Director of Film Society of Lincoln Center, asserts the problems facing female directors run deeper than inclusion in festivals, to the difficulties of even getting films made. As with many things, it’s an issue of cash. Female directors tend to try to make quieter, more character-driven films, whilst men flock to helm big-budget blockbusters–and obviously, studios follow the money.

But are women really more drawn to character dramas than their male counterparts, or is it a matter of playing into type–a self-fulfilling prophecy, only going after the projects they’ll be trusted with full reign over? There are plenty of lady Marvel fans out there likely clamoring to get their hands on a comic book cash cow–so why aren’t more big-budget films given to capable female directors?


Source: Indie Wire