Fusion: A Proud Partner of Sundance Film Festival’s Women Filmmakers Initiative

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Though undeniable strides have been made in the last 50 years in the realm of women’s rights, the film and television industry has unfortunately lagged behind. The Fusion Film Festival has teamed up with other film festivals and institutions to remedy this lag. There were a total of 3,879 feature films submitted to the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Of those, a meager 16.9% listed female directors. Keri Putnam, the Executive Director of the Sundance Institute was quoted as saying “…What we’ve already found is that if statistics tell us a story, the story being told about women filmmakers today needs work.”

To combat this gender discrepancy, the Sundance Institute and Women in Film have partnered up in the hopes of promoting secure careers in the film field for women. The Women Filmmakers Initiative was thus born.

In getting The Women Filmmakers Initiative on its feet, the Sundance Institute collaborated with USC Annenberg by jointly researching the prevalence of women in the film industry. The Initiative has aligned with many other innovative partners such as the AFI Conservatory, Athena Film Festival, Paley Center for Media, PGA, and Women Make Movies among others. The chief aim for The Women Filmmakers Initiative in garnering information was to determine just what the first areas of concern to be addressed should be. In the end, four main goals for the 2012 year were stated as primary areas of focus: Mentorship, Finance Education, Training, and Access and Raising Awareness, and Facilitating Collaboration.

Women in Film and the Sundance Initiative hosted a one-day Forum on November 12, 2013 to provide female writers, directors, and producers in the film industry with current film financing models, information on what investors are seeking, and information on examples of properly financed films. The conference also provided information about how to have more confidence necessary when fundraising for a film project. Fusion’s Allied Partner status to the Initiative granted Fusion the opportunity to send a filmmaker/fellow to attend the Forum. Tisch UGFTV alum Misha Green attended in this position. Additionally Lauren Ciaravalli, a previous Fusion co-director, attended the Forum in the role of spokesperson and spoke about Fusion’s history at the Paley Center for New Media in Los Angeles.

As a part of The Women Filmmakers Initiative, various schools of status within the entertainment realms have been named Allied Partners of this initiative. As NYU’s very own Fusion Film Festival continues to grow, it has had the honor of being named an Allied Partner as another step towards gender equality in the film industry. Putnam has been quoted saying, “Sundance Institute has long believed in the value of diverse storytellers contributing to a vibrant culture.” Undoubtedly, this Mentorship Program is just another step closer to achieving the ultimate goal of diverse vibrancy in storytelling culture.

By Elizabeth Groth