Turner Classic Movies (TCM) premieres its Trailblazing Women initiative this month and it's the kind of multi-year initiative I hope we see a lot more of.
Aimed at tackling gender equality, the project incorporates a prosocial element while providing legitimately entertaining content that when put all together and contextualized is even more compelling.
Hosted by actress, producer and director Illeana Douglas, Trailblazing Women airs every Tuesday and Thursday in October (starting Oct. 1), showing more than 50 films by female filmmakers, from the early days of cinema through today's era.
The project is in partnership with the organization Women in Film, Los Angeles and is the brainchild of Charlie Tabesh, senior VP of programming for TCM, who says the comprehensive initiative "will highlight the impact of female filmmakers throughout history and encourage future female filmmakers."
The slate, as detailed in TCM GM Jennifer Dorian's blog Wednesday, takes viewers from the short film The Birth, the Life and the Death of Christ (1906) directed by Guy-Blaché--considered the first female writer and director of narrative films--to The Hurt Locker (2008), directed by Kathryn Bigelow, the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Director.
TCM describes the programming as spotlighting "women who challenged gender stereotypes while carving out successful careers in an industry where men hold the bulk of the power."
The "bulk of the power" is perhaps an understatement. The statistics on women in film are shocking, even for someone like me who makes efforts to be informed about gender diversity. Dorian quoted WIF data in her blog indicating just 6% of directors working today are women. Also:
• 15% of writers working in film are women
• 20% of editors are women
• 2% of cinematographers are female
Initiatives like Trailblazing Women, which encourage and inspire while they also entertain, underscore the power of our medium and exemplify what it means to own up to the responsibility that goes along with the power of the platform. It sets the network apart amid the absolute avalanche of choices viewers have by having both a theme and a powerful message.
And such projects really can make a difference.
To see the impact these female filmmakers have made while enjoying such a minuscule percentage of the opportunities to make movies is astonishing, and sure to be inspiring.
Go here tcm.com/trailblazingwomen to check out the schedule.