Indie Women in a Pandemic Year: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women in U.S. Independent Film, 2020-21
Documentary films continued to employ higher percentages of behind-the-scenes women than narrative features in 2020-21. Women accounted for 42% of individuals working as directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers on documentaries versus 35% of those working on narrative features streaming/screening at 20 high-profile film festivals in the U.S. Moreover, the fests streamed/screened almost equal numbers of documentaries directed by women (an average of 7) as by men (an average of 8). Festivals screened an average of 6 narrative features directed by at least one woman versus an average of 9 narrative features directed exclusively by men. In every behind-the-scenes role but one (writers), documentaries employed higher percentages of women than narrative features. The study provides employment figures for domestically and independently produced feature-length documentaries and narrative films streaming/screening from July 2020 through June 2021 at U.S. festivals including SXSW, AFI, and the New York Film Festival. It is the most comprehensive and longest running study of women working in U.S. independent film available and has tracked over 95,400 credits on more than 9,500 films over the period of 2008 to 2021.