Where Do All the Women Directors Go?

So what’s with the continued disparity between the proportion of women directors represented at the Sundance Film Festival (27 of the 117 features screening at the festival this year were directed by women) and the number of women making big films in Hollywood (only three of 2010’s 100 top-grossing were made by women)?

Brooks Barnes tackles that very question in the New York Times. Among the theories he posits: 1) Festival programmers place a higher premium on diversity. 2) Directing, a 24/7 job that requires lots of travel, is a tough choice for women who want to raise a family. 3) The Hollywood studios are a boys club that can be hard for women to break into and harder for them to stay in following a box-office failure. 4) Women are less inclined to dumb down their work for commercial purposes. As Women in Film president and CRASH producer Cathy Schulman put it, “I realize this is a little controversial to say, but some women directors need to work harder to cross over from show to business.”

This provocative topic will be explored by Schulman’s organization, a nonprofit that seeks to even out the gender disparity in filmmaking, during a panel discussion at this year’s festival. A second panel discussion tackling the issue will be held following a screening of Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s documentary MISS REPRESENTATION, which, the filmmaker has said, “explores the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence in America and … challenges the media’s limited portrayal of what it means to be a powerful woman.” Katie Couric and Gloria Steinem, who are among those Newsom interviews in the film, are set to participate in the post-screening discussion, the Times reports.

Be sure to satisfy all your festival needs with the latest buzz, top stories, and celebrity interviews from Sundance Channel’s coverage of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.