The American Film Institute today received a $350,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to embark upon an unprecedented, landmark study of gender parity in the history of American film.
Named for director Lloyd Bacon’s lost 1928 film, “Women They Talk About,” the initiative seeks to explore how gender parity was nearly achieved in the early decades of film — an era in which more women held positions of power than at any other time in the U.S. motion picture industry. The project will be led by the research team at the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, the world’s most authoritative, freely accessible database of every American film released in the first 100 years of the art form. “Women They Talk About” will use cutting-edge technology to discuss gender roles in the AFI Catalog’s vast collection of more than 500,000 credits in the first century of the film industry, providing new empirical data to support women’s inclusion in the historical narrative.
“’Women They Talk About’ is a game-changer for the story of women’s roles in film,” said Sarah Blankfort Clothier, Manager, AFI Catalog. “This essential project will bring forgotten female film pioneers into the cultural vernacular, and secure their contributions in the canon of American cinema.”
“These new NEH-supported projects will help shore up the nation’s most valuable assets,” said NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede of today’s grant recipients. “NEH is proud to support the advancement of learning and sharing of knowledge nationwide.”
This research will provide groundbreaking opportunities to study employment and gender parity statistics during the first century of American film, while examining the place of women in film and television today — with the goal of contributing to a more inclusive entertainment community, as well as more diverse role models for younger generations.
“Women They Talk About” is one of AFI’s pioneering efforts to empower female filmmakers, including the AFI Directing Workshop for Women, the AFI Cinematography Introductory Intensive for Women and the Young Women in Film Intensive. Read more about these programs at AFI.com. The AFI Catalog and the “Women They Talk About” project are also supported by grants from J. Paul Getty Trust and the Lovell Foundation.