Something amazing happened at the Toronto International Film Festival last month. Maybe you’re not very interested in movies, but you should still listen for a minute. The director of the festival, Cameron Bailey, told his team of movie programmers, “Find the best films you can, and where there are films by women, we’re going to do our best to give them the best profile that we can and make sure that people pay attention.”
How cool is that? To see how cool, we have to talk some numbers real quickly. A team of researchers called the Media Diversity and Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism (phew!) are making a list every year. The list dissects each and every speaking character of the top 100 movies of the year, looking at gender, body type, age, race and more. The result might shock you…or it might not.
Yep, you saw that right. Last year, 29 percent of characters in the top 100 movies were women. Of all 100 movies, 28 percent had women leads or co-leads.
What does this one mean? It means that only 2 movies last year had significantly more women than men. 29 of 100 movies had a cast of only 35 percent women. And 13 movies had a cast that was less than 15 percent female. Jeez.
When we talk about what goes on before, during and after the actors strut their stuff in front of the camera, we can see that less than 2 percent of women are directing the top 100 movies of the year. That doesn’t seem quite right, does it?
And that’s not even getting into all the other information the Initiative is tracking, like how many women are shown wearing skimpy clothing, or what their body types are like, or how old they are.
So back to the Toronto International Film Fest. Why is it so cool that they’re highlighting good movies made by women, starring women? Because we need it. If a women does good work, she needs to be applauded and recognized. And maybe, just maybe we can get more women in the movie biz getting the fair screen time and the responsibility they deserve.
Read the full articles about the Toronto International Film Festival and the Diversity and Social Change Initiative. And when you’re browsing Netflix or Redbox tonight, look for a movie with a woman director or a starring lady you admire!