TIFF Is Raising $3 Million to Get More Women in Film

Seven percent of 2016's highest-grossing films were directed by women. The Toronto International Film Festival wants that to change.
Drew Schwartz
Brooklyn, US
July 11, 2017, 5:42pm
Patty Jenkins (left) and Gal Gadot (right) at the 'Wonder Woman' premiere in LA. Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic.

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is launching a $3 million fund to combat Hollywood's long-standing problem with gender inequality in filmmaking, Variety reports.

Over the next five years, the festival hopes to raise the funds to cover a three-month residency for female filmmakers, classroom tools for educators interested in studying gender in cinema, and create a speaker series tackling gender equity both behind the camera and on-screen. Those three areas would form TIFF's "Share Her Journey" campaign and aim to challenge the staggering disparity between male and female creators in the film industry.

Even with prolific female directors like Ava DuVernay, Sofia Coppola, and Wonder Woman's Patty Jenkins stepping behind the camera to make challenging, critically acclaimed films, Hollywood still has a long way to go when it comes to closing its industry gender gap. In 2016, just 7 percent of the 250 highest-grossing movies were directed by women, a San Diego State University (SDSU) study found. Additionally, a recent Women's Media Center study found that women behind the camera—like directors, producers, and writers—only accounted for roughly 20 percent of all the non-actor Oscar nominations in 2016—a 2 percent drop from 2015.

"We acknowledge that gender inequity is systemic in the screen industries, so change has to happen at every level. That includes getting more women into key creative roles," TIFF's artistic director Cameron Bailey said in a statement. "Our mission is to transform the way people see the world through film. One of the most powerful ways to do that is to foreground the perspectives of women."

To generate the $3 million it's after, TIFF is asking folks to donate to the cause. A few female filmmakers have already thrown their support behind the campaign, including Oscar-nominated Deepa Mehta (Anatomy of Violence), documentarian Jennifer Baichwal (Manufactured Landscapes), and actor/director Omoni Oboli (Okafor's Law). Philanthropists Betty-Ann Heggie and Anne-Marie Canning plan to match the first $80,000 the festival garners, according to Variety.

At TIFF, one of the largest and most highly-regarded film festivals, roughly 30 percent of the films selected in 2016 were directed by women. If the festival can get the Share Her Journey campaign off the ground, hopefully that number will climb and provide resources for those who'd like to make Hollywood a little less straight, white, and male, both on-screen and off.