February 4, 2023

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The silent film era had more female representation, the AFI study found

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A new study by the AFI shows that women represented a higher percentage of writers, directors and producers during Hollywood’s silent era.

The survey comes at a time when recent data shows fewer female filmmakers and directors behind Hollywood’s biggest titles.

The AFI study, titled “Women They Speak,” documents the unsung contributions of women filmmakers in the silent film era and uncovers the true story of women as pioneers in American film.

“The AFI Catalog — used by academics and film fans alike around the world as a document of American film history — directs the way film history is told and spotlights women who have played seminal roles in the industry. “, said Susan Ruskin, dean of the AFI Conservatory and EVP of the American Film Institute. “We hope these new discoveries through the Women They Talk About project will inspire the next generation of filmmakers who can continue their pioneering work in film.”

Research includes a newly launched microsite at AFI.com that includes curricular resources for grades 9-12, accessible to all, and a comprehensive index of more than 800 women film pioneers, and integrates the work of Columbia University’s Women Film Pioneers Project and AFI. by doing Research

Over the course of three years, the silent era saw the release of more than 6,000 feature films — many of which were written, directed, and produced by women — previously with little or no record in books or online databases. AFI has captured information about hundreds of women who have not yet been included in the historical canon and added their credits to the AFI catalog, ensuring that they will be part of film history.

AFI then discovered that women represented a greater percentage of writers, directors, and producers during the silent era than at any other time in the first century of American filmmaking. The study states that from 1910-1930, 10.9% of feature film credits were attributed to female writers, directors, and producers. During the same period, more than 27.5% of women were credited as authors or co-authors; 19.6% of feature films are based on source material written by women; And films directed by women during this period were 31% more likely to have female writers.

“The AFI catalog’s uniquely comprehensive and scholarly data on American film history provides an unprecedented opportunity to illuminate the contributions of women to filmmaking and to discover new ones, providing researchers and academics with the foundation to tell an authentic story of women’s inclusion,” said Sarah Blankfort Clothier, Manager. , AFI Catalogue.

AFI’s next study will be “Behind the Scenes,” named after a short film by pioneering filmmaker Lois Weber. The initiative, supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, will document 6,000 short films from the silent and early sound eras to uncover the innovative contributions of women and BIPOC storytellers.

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