“We live in a sexist world and Hollywood is at the heart of it,” said Rory Kennedy today at the Sundance Film Festival’s annual Women In Film panel. “The financing structure of Hollywood films is also part of the problem,” added fellow panelist Valerie Veatch, the director/producer of the HBO Docs film Love Child. “Women not playing nine rounds of golf stops us from having access to the money, to the hedge funds and the other financing,” she added.
Dear White People producer Effie Brown, producer Lori Cheatle of HBO’s Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart, Web Junkie co-director/producer Hilla Medalia, Rich Hills co-director/producer Tracy Droz Tragos, joined Veatch and Kennedy on the panel Sunday. The daughter of Robert Kennedy, the director/producer’s Last Days in Vietnam docu debuted at the festival on January 17. This is WIF’s eighth annual panel at Sundance.
Today’s panel comes less than a week after San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film released its annual Celluloid Ceiling Report. This year’s study found that the percentage of women holding positions on the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2013 was less than in 1998 when the first Celluloid Ceiling Report was compiled. On the top 250 pics of the year, women made up 16% of EPs, producers, directors, writers, DPs and editors in 2013. That’s a dip from the 17% they made up in 1998. As directors on those top 250 films women made up just 6%, which is a big drop from the 9% they made up in 2012 and back in ’98. It was a better landscape in TV where women made up 28% of the primary production positions jobs during the 2012-2013 season. That’s up from the 21% women made up in the 1997-98 season.
Addressing the findings of the report, Cheatle said part of the solution was unity. ‘Women need to hire other women and create opportunity,” she noted to a round of applause from the audience in the packed 350 Main restaurant in Park City. The only individual from a non-documentary film, Brown cautioned the crowd and her fellow panelists from working within the dynamics of traditional media. “We can be pro-active, we can create daycare in our production offices,” said the producer of Dear White People, a project that started on Twitter and YouTube before becoming a feature film. “There’s all sorts of new media like YouTube for us to get our stories out there. We have to use them.”