New Study Indicates Women Are Directing More Films, But Parity Remains Distant

The latest installment of the Celluloid Ceiling offers much to ponder

Film Independent Hosts Special Screening Of "The Rider"
Director Chloe Zhao attends a special screening of "The Rider" at the Writers Guild Theater on April 11, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.
Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

The American film industry abounds with inequality, much of it systemic. One way that gender inequality manifests itself is in the relatively low number of films directed by women. The fact that Vulture’s Oscar Futures column currently lists 2 women as likely favorites for a Best Director nomination this year — Nomadland‘s Chloe Zhao and One Night in Miami‘s Regina King. Why is that number so surprising? Because to date, only 5 women have been nominated for said award.

This is but one sign of the gender imbalance at work in the industry, At IndieWire, Ryan Lattanzio has information on a new report that explores industry statistics with an eye towards inequality. The Celluloid Ceiling report has covered the film industry for 23 years; the latest installment was just released. It reveals a number of positive trends, but also suggests there’s a lot of room left for improvement.

18% of the top 250 domestic films of 2020 were directed by women, up substantially since 2015. In the top 100, the number of women directing films was also up from previous years, to 16%. Women’s representation in other roles was more mixed compared to previous years — and, as Lattanzio points out, even in the areas where there has been growth, there hasn’t always been a substantial amount of it.

Even so, 2020 does offer a few reasons for optimism, including women behind the camera on a significant number of the year’s critical and commercial successes, from First Cow to Wonder Woman 1984. And with inclusion riders becoming more popular in the industry, one hopes that that will make the industry an even more diverse place.

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