Women comprised 29.8% of film-makers from all Sundance Film Festival Entries between the years 2002 and 2012, Sundance Institute executive director Keri Putnam and Women In Film Los Angeles president Cathy Schulman announced on Monday [21].


The executives attended a special event in Park City to discuss the findings of a specially commissioned study into gender disparity in US independent film.

The research found that across all behind-the-camera positions females were most likely to be producers. Fewer than one-third of all narrative producers but a little over 40% of associate producers were female.

Compared to films directed by males, those directed by females feature more women filmmakers behind the camera in the roles of writers, producers, cinematographers and editors. The study found this to be true in both narratives – a 21% increase – and documentaries – a 24% increase.

Females were half as likely to be directors of narrative films than documentaries – 16.9% compared to 34.5%.

The study found five major areas as being responsible for hindering women’s career development in film: gendered financial barriers, male-dominated industry networking, stereotyping on set, work and family balance, and exclusionary hiring decisions (13.7%)

Sundance Institute and Women In Film Los Angeles commissioned the study and the research was conducted by Stacy L Smith PhD, Katherine Pieper PhD, and Marc Choueiti at Annenberg School for Communication And Journalism, University Of Southern California.

The study quantitatively assessed the gender of 11,197 directors, writers, producers, cinematographers and editors in US movies that played at Sundance between 2002 and 2012.

Researchers also documented the qualitative experiences of female filmmakers through interviews with filmmakers and film industry representatives. 

“The results of this research are encouraging, and we hope they will highlight the barriers and opportunities facing women behind the camera,” said Putnam. “We look forward to collaborating with Women In Film Los Angeles and other allied organisations to raise awareness and inspire action around this important issue.”

Schulman added: “This data shows us that there is a higher representation of female filmmakers in independent film as compared to Hollywood – but it also highlights the work that is still to be done for women to achieve equal footing in the field.”