Film Executives Launch The Alice Initiative, a Black List For Female Directors
The controversy surrounding Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot seemed like it might have a silver lining; isn’t Hollywood’s diversity problem improving if we’re arguing about a major summer blockbuster starring four women? Sadly, the answer is (still) no. But on the heels of a new study that proves Hollywood has made excruciatingly little progress on the diversity front, a group of anonymous female film executives have formed The Alice Initiative, which puts the spotlight on up-and-coming female directors to encourage and support gender diversity behind-the-scenes.
Officially launched today, THR describes The Alice Initiative as a Black List for female filmmakers, but unlike the famous screenplay survey, this one is focused entirely on female directors on the rise — and it’s organized by a group of female film execs who have chosen to remain anonymous in an effort to avoid industry lobbying, something that’s caused a problem for the Black List in recent years.
Named for French filmmaker Alice Blache (widely believed to be the first female director), The Alice Initiative’s inaugural list was voted on by 40 industry members and features 30 up-and-coming filmmakers. Of those 30, 20 have directed at least one non-studio film, and 10 have been recognized for their contributions to television and short films. The film list includes directors like Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl), Dee Rees (Pariah) and Jennifer Kent (The Babadook), while the TV and shorts list features names like Amy Seimetz (The Girlfriend Experience) and Sarah Gertrude Shaprio (UnREAL). You can see the full list at the bottom of this post.
In addition to those names, the official website features a growing master list that contains the names of hundreds of female directors. As the group tells THR:
By sharing this list, our hope is to shine a spotlight on this talented next wave of female directors. We hope producers and executives will use it as a reference as they build lists to fill open directing assignments to ensure no capable woman is left off.
Today’s launch coincides — perhaps not coincidentally — with the results of a lengthy study from the Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The study, which began in 2007, analyzed the cultural demographics of directors, writers, actors and more from the top 100 films released each year through 2015. The AP has a full report on the results, and they aren’t optimistic, to say the least.
Hollywood has made very little progress with regards to diversity in front of and behind the scenes, which echoes the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University’s own annual reporting. USC’s new report (which offers a more inclusive minority analysis) found that of the 107 directors of 2015’s top 100 films, just eight were women, while San Diego’s survey of the top 250 films found that only nine percent of those titles were directed by women.
Things are still pretty disappointing according to both studies, but The Alice Initiative is setting a great example by establishing itself as both a showcase and resource for female talent. Ideally, the executives behind The Alice Initiative would partner with others to create an intersectional network similarly promoting minority and LGBTQ filmmakers.
Here’s The Alice Initiative’s inaugural filmmaker list:
Directors With Feature Work
Alice Winocour (Disorder)
Ana Lily Amirpour (Girl Walks Home Alone at Night)
Andrea Arnold (American Honey)
Anna Rose Holmer (The Fits)
Dee Rees (Pariah)
Deniz Gamze Erguven (Mustang)
Gillian Robespierre (Obvious Child)
Hannah Fidel (6 Years, The Road)
Jennifer Kent (The Babadook)
Julia Ducournau (Raw)
Lake Bell (In a World...)
Leigh Janiak (Honeymoon)
Michelle MacLaren (Population 436, Game of Thrones)
Marielle Heller (Diary of a Teenage Girl)
Nisha Ganatra (Cake, Transparent)
Rachel Goldenberg (Deadly Adoption)
Rebecca Johnson (Honeytrap)
Rebecca Thomas (Electrick Children)
Sian Heder (Tallulah)
SJ Clarkson (Toast, Jessica Jones pilot)
Directors with Non-Feature Work
Amy Seimetz (The Girlfriend Experience)
Amy York Rubin (Foursome)
Emily Carmichael (Stryka short)
Emily Kai Bock (Grimes music videos)
Frankie Shaw (SMILF short, Too Legit short)
Katja Blichfeld (High Maintenance)
Melina Matsoukas (Insecure pilot)
Pippa Bianco (Share short)
Ryan Case (Wrecked, Mindy Project)
Sarah Getrude Shapiro (Sequin Raze short, UnREAL creator)