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Women in Film on Supporting Each Other: ‘We Need There to Be Exponential Growth’

Jane Levy, Bella Thorne, and more discussed with Adobe the importance of female filmmakers at the 2023 IndieWire Studio at Sundance.

Judy Reyes at the IndieWire Studio at Sundance.

“There are so many incredible, historical stories of women and people of color who have done trailblazing things, and we don’t hear those stories enough,” director and producer Joanna James said to Adobe at the IndieWire Studio at Sundance 2023. “That’s one of the amazing things about Sundance, is how supportive they are of telling those stories,” “The Starling Girl” director Laurel Parmet added. “And it seems like they do it first and then the industry follows so that’s just a really awesome thing to be a part of.”

Although small amounts of progress have been made, the glass ceiling remains a real issue for women in the film industry; according to USC Annenberg’s recent analysis of the Oscars’ history supported by the Adobe Foundation, 17 percent of all nominees across the award’s history were female and 83 percent were male. But great films starring by and created by women get made every year, and at Sundance in January, other female filmmakers at the festival spoke with Adobe and echoed James and Parmet’s thoughts.

For The Latinx House co-founder and president Mónica Ramírez, while representation has improved over the years, it still hasn’t fully gotten to the point where it needs to be. “In order for it to change, we need there to be exponential growth, and that’s what we’re all pushing for.”

“With all of these faces, sizes, and ways of being, it’s important to reflect all of that in the things that we watch, and the things that we do as filmmakers,” Kristen Lovell said in her interview with her “The Stroll” co-director Zackary Drucker.

Several actors dropped by the studio to discuss their experiences working with female directors and their desire to see more women-made films. “I love the way a lot of women shoot, I feel that the intimacy is really shown on screen in a very different way,” “Divinity” actor Bella Thorne said.

“I just love stories about women, and it probably is because I am one and I would love to see more movies with women behind the camera,” “A Little Prayer” actor Jane Levy said.

“Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls” star Arden Myrin spoke about the importance of three-dimensional female characters: “Give me some flawed ladies, cause guess what? We’re all flawed.”

During her interview, Judy Reyes spoke about starring in “Birth/Rebirth,” a film directed and crewed by a team of queer women and women of color: “I think it’s urgent to see that, because nothing really changes until it happens behind the scenes.” “Talk to Me” actor Sophie Wilde also spoke about the importance of young, diverse directors and writers getting the opportunity to make films: “Diversity behind the scenes is so important and it’s about believing that your stories are so worth sharing.”

Nicole Newnham, the producer of documentary “The Disappearance of Shere Hite,” used her interview to push back against a common trope that women directors should feel “lucky” for the opportunities that they receive.
“We don’t have to feel so fortunate just to be here,” Newnham said. “We need to own this space, and stop feeling that way, and start demanding everything that we need and deserve to do the work that we’re doing.”

Take a look at the full sizzle reel of interviews above. For more Adobe x IndieWire Studio at Sundance 2023, check out the interviews and conversations here.

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