Last year we wrote about how the Sundance Institute and Women In Film Los Angeles would be collaborating to support independent women filmmakers working in both narrative and documentary feature film. It looks like that effort has paid off. The 2013 Sundance Film Festival has an apparent record lineup of female directors competing for its top honor this January.
Half the entries – eight of the 16 films – announced Wednesday in the festival’s U.S. dramatic competition were directed by women. The festival, founded by Robert Redford, runs from Jan. 17 to 27 in Park City, Utah.
This is the highest number of female director nominees at Sundance since 2000. The women nominated include
female filmmakers are Francesca Gregorini’s Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes which stars Jessica Biel and Frances O’Connor in the story of a troubled girl fixated on a mysterious neighbor; Lynn Shelton’s Touchy Feely, featuring Rosemarie DeWitt, Allison Janney and Ellen Page in a tale of a massage therapist who develops a distaste for bodily contact; and Liz W. Garcia’s The Lifeguard, with Kristen Bell as a reporter who moves home and takes a job as a lifeguard.
It is great to hear this considering that only 7% of the top 250 top-grossing films released in 2010 were directed by women, 10% were written by women and 24% were produced by women. Early research shows that when the number of women in behind the camera roles increases, so do the roles for women in front of the camera and so does the content interesting to women and girls worldwide. Only 7% of the 3,879 feature films in both narrative and documentary categories submitted to the 2012 Sundance Film Festival were directed by women. While the number of films made by women as directors and producers is higher in the independent film world, and particularly among documentary films, there remains a marked disparity between the numbers of feature length films completed by male versus female filmmakers.
Plus, last year we saw that female-driven comedies were already taking over Sundance, riding on the success of Bridesmaids. That’s What She Said, For a Good Time, Call…, Bachelorette and the comedy Celeste and Jesse Forever (co-written by and starring Rashida Jones), all premiered at Sundance 2012. “For 10 years, people were really afraid that there wasn’t an audience for an R-rated female-centric comedy,” says Bachelorette writer/director Leslye Headland. “(Bridesmaids) proved that there was. I think it will get hundreds of movies made.”