As we embark on the fall festival season, Dr. Martha M. Lauzen has published another one of her vitally important studies tracking the progress of women working behind the scenes on movies. In “Independent Women: Behind-the-Scenes Representations on Festival Films,” Lauzen, director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, looked at the 2011-2012 film festival circuit and discovered that women account for 31% of the people working on documentaries and 23% on narrative features.
The most interesting news is that women directors made up 39% of documentaries and 18% of feature directors. That 18% is a huge difference from the 5% that makes up the top 250 grossing films of 2011.
All the numbers were increases from the last study in 2008-2009 when women directing documentaries was at 28% and women directing features at 15%.
While the increase of all these numbers is certainly a great thing, we still have some questions. Lauzen’s information specifically analyzes the number of women at many independent film festivals, typically a place where more women created films tend to be featured for a variety of reasons including that festivals get grants some with mandates of diversity. Also, as an over-reaching generalization, people who work in festivals tend to be interested in showing diverse films and we all know that Hollywood is not driven by any mandate of diversity.
But this is good news. It just clarifies that there are so many women making movies that get into festivals and are worthy of being seen. Problem is most people don’t get their fix of movies at festivals. They get their fix of movies in the multiplex which is still sadly not full of women like these festivals are.