published Monday, January 20th, 2014

Sundance: Study shows female filmmakers succeed in labs as much men

A sign outside of the Main Street area welcomes people to the 2014 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The independent film festival runs Jan. 16-26, 2014.
A sign outside of the Main Street area welcomes people to the 2014 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The independent film festival runs Jan. 16-26, 2014.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

PARK CITY, Utah — A study commissioned by the Sundance Institute and Women in Film Los Angeles finds that female filmmakers who participate in the institute's feature and documentary development labs succeed in equal numbers to men.

The executive director of the Sundance Institute, Keri Putnam, and the president of Women in Film Los Angeles, Cathy Schulman, presented the findings Monday at a private event during the Sundance Film Festival.

The study examined participation in Sundance's film-development labs and found that gender had no impact on the likelihood of a film's completion. About 41 percent of all lab projects by male and female filmmakers are finished, and 80 percent of those go on to play at major film festivals.

"Labs level the gender playing field," said lead researcher Stacy L. Smith of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California.

Women represent less than five percent of directors of mainstream industry films in the United States.

The Sundance Institute and Women in Film created a mentorship program for female directors that pairs them with established filmmakers and has held workshops to help women gain access to film financing.

Monday's event also included the premiere of "Selfie," a short film by Oscar-winning documentarian Cynthia Wade, which explores how social media is changing notions of beauty. The film was sponsored by Dove, which is supporting the Sundance Institute and Women in Film mentorship program.

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