CAT&Docs Catalog

by Amy Adrion

For many years the discouraging statistics about women directors in film and television have been known, but a confluence of social media outrage, increased study and statistics, and a growing willingness of prominent women in the industry to call out the powerful forces working against them, have resulted in what some have termed a “genderquake moment.” That environment, coupled with the activism of a handful of fearless women directors frustrated by the lack of accountability in their industry, resulted in the ACLU’s 18 month long investigation into gender discrimination in the hiring of directors, the findings of which prompted the US Department of Justice’s EEOC investigation that began in October 2015, bringing powerful players into the fight for equal opportunity.

HALF THE PICTURE seeks to document this unique time in our industry where systemic change seems possible and asks the question, unlike previous efforts to address gender inequality in Hollywood, will this time be different?

Not only is the issue of women directors an employment discrimination civil rights issue, the larger cultural relevance of HALF THE PICTURE lies in the fact that when you only have a small sliver of the populace telling our collective stories, in this case overwhelmingly white men who make up 31% of the population but direct 85-95% of our media, many stories are left untold. Further, studies show that when women direct, the numbers and characterization of women and men onscreen is affected as well.

Directors working behind the camera have a significant impact on the creation of this country’s main export around the world, our media, which give us powerful examples and social clues about who gets to be the hero, who gets to take up space, have a voice, be an active participant in the stories around them - and who does not. These images, when repeated throughout media, have ripple effects in the lives of real people around the world.

I have been aware of women’s marginalization in media and the need for greater support of women’s voices my entire adult life. My graduate films at UCLA explored stories of women and girls’ love, loss, and perseverance and I was honored to have my films screen at the Tribeca Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, broadcast on PBS and MTVu, and be lauded by the Directors Guild of America where I won a DGA Student Film Award.

When movement around the issue of women directors was gaining steam, I knew this was a story that needed to be told - these are my heroes, women who wouldn't take no for an answer fighting powerful forces, making movies and shows I wanted to see. After many years of stagnation, it seemed the timing could finally be right for something to change. I had to be there.