Last year the Cannes Film Festival got into some hot water by not including any films by female directors in its competition lineup. Regardless of what you think of that particular controversy, not being open to female directors is certainly not a charge that can be leveled against the Sundance Film Festival, which for the first time this January will have a U.S. Dramatic Competition lineup that’s 50% directed by women.
While this is certainly good news, it’s not spectacular—the 16 films in the U.S. Dramatic Competition section make up only a fraction of what will eventually screen at the festival, and female directors aren’t nearly so well-represented in Sundance’s other categories, like the World Dramatic Competition section (two of the ten films are directed by females) and the genre-heavy Park City at Midnight (one of eight).
(The U.S. Documentary Competition category is also pretty evenly split: Of the 23 directors spread out over 16 films, 10 of them are women. It seems to me that there’s a higher percentage of female directors in documentary films as opposed to narrative, possibly—just an educated guess here—because making a documentary is such an uphill slog in the first place that the additional “handicap” of being a woman in the film industry doesn’t have as much of an impact.)
I don’t mean to downplay this genuinely awesome first. Sundance is one of the world’s most influential film festivals, and the films in its U.S. Dramatic Competition section tend to be among the most talked-about, not to mention the most likely to get theatrical distribution.
And before anyone says something like “Women directors shouldn’t be given preference for being female, it should all be merit-based, etc. etc.”—we don’t know how (or if) the gender of directors factored into Sundance’s decision-making process.
Regardless of how much can be read into the future of women in Hollywood from this one statistic, it’s still pretty cool.
(via: Ms. Magazine)