What Bigelow Effect? Women Directors Make Up 5.8% of Lineup Announced Today

by Melissa Silverstein on July 27, 2010

in Festivals

Women directors again are virtually missing from another top-tier film festival and this time the culprit is the Toronto Film Festival.

Of the 43 films (the articles say that 51 films have been announced but I only counted 43 in this Variety article including the already announced opening film.)

That’s 5.8% and I am being generous.

If I were going with 51 films, the percentage would be lower.  In reality, only two films are solo directed by women, and there is not one North American woman who made the cut on her own.  Where are the female Canadian filmmakers?

I seriously cannot believe that there are not more women directed films that could be a part of this lineup.  I know that both Taymor and Coppola are premiering at Venice, but Toronto really kicks off award season and it is important that women’s voices are a part of the conversation.

The women directed films announced so far (hopefully they will announce a couple of more as the whole lineup is unveiled) include:

  • Kiran Rao’s Mumbai-set “Dhobi Ghat”
  • Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s mental health dramedy “It’s Kind Of A Funny Story”
  • Susanne Bier’s “In a Better World”

There is not one woman directed film in the North American premiere section.

These numbers are shameful.  We need to raise our voices about this.

I think the time has come to start tracking this stuff way more carefully and effectively. This is a story that I keep reporting on over and over again. (Anyone who wants to work on this project, get in touch.)

Toronto unveils lineup
Toronto Sets Over 50 Titles For 2010 Fest (IndieWIRE)


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth July 27, 2010 at 6:47 PM

This isn’t the final TIFF line-up, though; I think last year they ended up with around 300 films, so this is only about 1/6th of the total line-up.

I do think it’s concerning that the films announced today are likely to be the bigger, crowd-drawing films yet there are so few female filmmakers amongst those premiere and red-carpet screenings, especially since in the last two years we’ve seen Kathryn Bigelow, Lone Scherfig, Drew Barrymore, and Niki Caro (and I’m only limiting my list at the moment because those are the ones I remember because I was at their screenings). However, I also won’t be surprised if there are lots of female filmmakers for the films that have yet to be announced, especially the foreign ones.

That said, without even trying I managed have a near even split of male and female directors for the films I saw last year at TIFF. Not sure if my experience is necessarily representative of the breakdown of the gender split in the overall 2009 program (probably not, given that I only saw 12 or 13 movies), but I was pleasantly surprised when I tallied my own list.

Marian July 27, 2010 at 8:22 PM

Toronto needs a new Kay Armatage! She was amazing, unique, and still is no doubt, but doing other things: http://wellywoodwoman.blogspot.com/2010/05/celebrating-women-loving-women-3-kaye.html

ann July 28, 2010 at 9:59 AM

Part of the problem with the more prominent festivals is that they are often showcasing higher budget films with stars. If they mostly program films in the 2-20 million dollar range, the issue becomes more about whether women directors can get access to financing. Established producers and production companies also make sure their entry is screened by the programming committee. The festivals need to start looking outside the box (films under $500,000) if they want to address the gender disparities.

AVIVA KEMPNER July 30, 2010 at 11:07 AM




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