Jennifer Dean is a real powerhouse, full of boundless energy. She’s a film curator who has programmed an event as part of the Directed by Women Global Celebration since 2015 (see this year’s program on Monday, Sept 3, in NYC!), while working full-time in post-production. And she’s producing a documentary film, The 2nd Sex & the 7th Art.
Women have been directing films in the United States since the beginning of film as a storytelling medium. However, in mainstream culture much is made of how few female directors there are and how little is known about them.
The ACLU and other in the filmmaking industry recently made a commitment to fight discrimination in the entertainment industry, but the battle has a long history.
In 1979 Michael Franklin, a national Executive of the Director’s Guild of America, and six female DGA members (now known as the “Original Six,”) blew the lid off the discriminatory policies of the studios with a class action suit. In spite of the action, the numbers of women directing in Hollywood have hardly budged: .05% in 1985 to rose only to 16% in 1995.
The statistics tell only part of the story. Dean’s documentary, The 2nd Sex & The 7th Art, aims to give a full picture of what it’s like to be a female director in Hollywood and what it will take for circumstances to change.
The 2nd Sex & The 7th Art asks questions like: Will the ACLU succeed? Will the media attention and celebrity debate spark lasting change? Do new distribution platforms and cheaper digital filmmaking resources make it possible for more women to direct? Will that lead to more women working as directors?
Dean and her co-producer, Eric Rice, have interviewed directors like Martha Coolidge, Julie Dash, and Bette Gordon (see a longer list here.) Sample clips from the interviews are here.
DIRECTED BY WOMEN SERIES
Directed by Women is an initiative started by Barbara Ann O'Leary
Here is a blurb from this year’s program:
Welcome to our fourth annual NYC Shorts event, Shorts of All Sorts! We are honored to be part of the Directed by Women global celebration inspired by Barbara Ann O’Leary.
Eric and I first met Barbara online because of our shared passion for film – and specifically films helmed by women. My study of female filmmakers began when I was getting my M.A. at the CUNY Graduate Center and in my film studies endeavors delved into the stories of the incredible women of Early Hollywood. There I also started working on a feature documentary project, The 2nd Sex & the 7th Art, and I scoured social media platforms to learn more.
At the same time Eric was working on a project #shecandowhatyoucando where he watched a film a day by a female filmmaker and tweeted out about it. We both individually came across Barbara’s initiative and with the help of Custom Made Theatre Company’s Leah Abrams decided to organize our first evening of short films directed by women in 2015 screening at Ryan’s Daughter on the Upper East Side in NYC.
Four years later we have moved the event to Videology and continue to curate an evening of celebration. We are enthralled by all of the talent out there – both those you will see tonight and the many women who submitted to us from throughout the world that didn’t make it into the evening because we couldn’t do a four hour screening!