2013: A Look Back at a Year of Female Filmmakers

As we start a new year of women in film, it seems pertinent to take a look back and see how far we came in 2013.


The past year has definitely had its highs and lows. San Diego State University’s Centre for the Study of Women in Television and Film had the tough job of crunching the numbers, delivering the sobering news in their annual ‘Celluloid Ceiling’ report that 2013 was a huge low for women employed in film.

As Variety pointed out, 2013 represented the lowest levels of women employed in film production since 1998. Sixteen years of hard work, and women in film are still making high quality work, but not getting the support or credit they need to continue to make it in the film industry.

The Celluloid Ceiling survey showed that in the top-grossing 250 domestic pictures shown, employment of women for these films was only at 16%. Compare this to where we were are at in 2012 (18%), and 1998 (17%).

The findings of the study are grim indeed. Remarking on the report, the Centre’s Executive Director, Martha Lauzen noted,

“The film industry is in a state of gender inertia.  There is no evidence to suggest that women’s employment has improved in key behind-the-scenes roles over the last 16 years”

Given the industry’s state of stagnancy despite stellar work, it has become increasingly apparent that organizations which advocate for representation of women in film and their allies are crucial in continuing to advocate for the work of female film makers.


Interestingly, it pays to have the presence of women in films–big time. A report from Voactiv showed 2013’s top-50 grossing movies all passed the Bechdel Test. This includes blockbusters like Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Elysium, The Heat, Frozen, and The Conjuring.

Hopefully the presence of engaging and multifaceted women on screen will encourage the presence of women behind the cameras as well. Even though the top 17 grossing movies passed the test, just one of them-Frozen- was directed by a woman. In fact, only six percent of the top grossing films had female directors and just ten percent had female screenwriters.


Armed with the news that though women’s employment In the film industry is at a low, while  Bechdel Test-passing films rake in the big bucks, what can we expect for 2014?

One report predicts that 2014 will be equally frustrating for women in film. But it’s only January–here’s hoping we see some change.

Curious about the status of women in film and television in Canada? Be sure to attend a special panel exploring the latest Women in View on Screen report hosted by WIFTV President Rachelle Chartrand on Saturday March 8th from 10:00 am – 11:30 am.

1 thought on “2013: A Look Back at a Year of Female Filmmakers

  1. The good thing about a film like Elysium is how successful were women behind the scenes. E.g. in this action-oriented science fiction film, the looks were largely created by Vancouver (female) film colourist Andrea Chlebak from Digital Film Central.

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