The indie filmmaking world has been male-dominated and continues to be so. Female filmmakers have been able to make a few improvements to the indie landscape by stepping in front and behind the camera. 

The independent filmmaking world has been more supportive of female filmmakers than major studios. The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, which tracks representation in film and television, found that women comprised 21% of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 100 films in 2021. 

You can read the report here, but let's go through some other highlights. 

Netflix-passing'Passing'Credit: Netflix

Between 2021 to 2022, the same study found that women comprised 39% of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on independent films at high-profile film festivals in the U.S. That 18% gap showcased that Hollywood’s representation problem on mainstream TV and film is still a problem. 

The report took a closer look at female representation in independent films at the major film festivals hosted between 2021-2022, including Sundance, the New York Film Festival, AFI Fest, Slamdance Film Festival, SXSW Film Festival, and 17 other prominent film festivals. 

Many of those film festivals hosted prominent movies from female auteurs, including Sian Heder’s Oscar-winning Coda, Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut Passing, and Jane Campion's The Power of the Dog

Despite the strides made by these female filmmakers, the number of female directors at film festivals only increased by a single percentage point. 

As festivals reopened with open arms after going virtual or offering more digital screenings during the COVID-19 pandemic, the changes in strategy didn’t level the playing field for women. 

Despite the efforts made by film festivals to feature more films made by female directors and underrepresented filmmakers, festivals still highlight more movies made by male filmmakers. Variety reports that a recent study found that festivals “screened and streamed an average of six narrative films directed by at least one woman compared to an average of 10 films directed by men.” 

Women only directed 38%. of films at film festivals'Saint Omer'Credit: Super

On a positive note, festivals streamed and screened almost an equal number of documentaries directed by women as by men. Women are much better represented in behind-the-scenes roles in documentaries, with 43% of those who work on documentaries being women, while only 34% of those who worked on narrative films were women. 

We should take a moment to celebrate the independent documentaries for having equal representation behind the camera, and the members who selected those documentaries to be shown on such a public stage. 

It’s the responsibility of film festivals to not only show quality work that is on the hunt for distribution but also show films that are made by underrepresented filmmakers.

Representation in front of and behind the camera matters, and will always need to be considered whenever a project begins development. The representation should be genuine and showcase that everyone’s voice matters, showing the next generation that anything is possible no matter how you identify. 

Source: Variety