Sundance, Women In Film Promote Female Filmmakers

[Source: Associated Press (AP), by Sandy Cohen, January 23, 2012]

Lauren GreenfieldPARK CITY, Utah – The Sundance Institute and Women In Film are working together to track female filmmakers who are showing their work at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and plan to use the data to increase women's presence in all areas of filmmaking.
The aim of the joint effort, announced Monday, is to "initiate a real hard look at why this constant lack of parity seems to exist in terms of the amount of women working in film and media and the amount of men," said Cathy Shulman, president of Women in Film. "What does it really mean and why is it happening, and instead of talking about it every year as a fact, start to see if we could be part of a solution."
Keri Putnam, president of the Sundance Institute, said the organizations were motivated by statistics that show that only 5 percent of the top 250 films last year were directed by women. That figure hasn't changed since 1998.
Female filmmakers are better represented at Sundance, where 27 percent of the films presented were made by women.
Catherine Hardwicke, who made her directorial debut at Sundance in 2003 with "Thirteen" and went on to direct the first "Twilight" installment, said that despite the $400 million success of that film, "it still was not easy for me to get meetings on movies."
"It still took me about a year and half to get my next movie made, and I had to take a salary cut," she said.
By tracking the progress and challenges of female filmmakers participating in Sundance programs this year, the Sundance Institute and Women In Film hope to discover the pitfalls that prevent gender parity in film and television and devise means of overcoming them.
"We're going to get real-life data," Shulman said, "and we are going to formulate a vision ultimately to support, within the scope of both institutes, programs this challenge to change these, at this point, boring lack of positive statistics and make a difference."
Women In Film and the Sundance Channel are holding events at the festival to discuss the work of female filmmakers. Lauren Greenfield, whose documentary "The Queen of Versailles," opened the festival, will appear at the panels on Tuesday and Wednesday.