Rayka Zehtabchi and Melissa Berton pose backstage with the Oscar they won in 2019 for Best Documentary Short Subject for their film “Period. End Of Sentence.” REUTERS/Mike Segar.

The number of women working as directors and writers in independent films reached historic highs in 2019 and 2020, according to a report released Thursday by a San Diego State University film professor.

The report, entitled “Indie Women: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women in Independent Film, 2019-2020,” states that women comprised 38% of directors working on narrative features and documentaries over the past two years, and accounted for 35% of writers.

Despite the overwhelming majority of behind-the-scenes film roles going to men, the female employment figures were record highs, according to report author Martha M. Lauzen, a professor of television, film and new media at SDSU, who also serves as the founder and executive director of the school’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.

More than 8,000 credits on over 800 films in 2019-2020 and more than 88,000 credits on nearly 9,000 films from 2008 to 2020 were analyzed for the report.

Other findings indicate women have found more success working on documentaries than narrative features. Women made up 40% of “key behind-the- scenes roles” on documentaries, as compared to 29% of those working on narrative films. High-profile festivals also selected and/or screened twice as many narrative features directed by men than women, but nearly an equal number of documentaries directed by men and women.

Films with at least one female director also tended to feature women employed in other key roles. On films with at least one female director, women comprised 73% of writers, as opposed to male-directed films, where women accounted for 12% of writers.

Similar findings held true for editors and cinematographers — with women comprising 43% of editors and 27% of cinematographers on female-helmed films, as opposed to 18% of editors and 8% of cinematographers on male-led films.

— City News Service

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