The Black List for Female Directors? New Survey to "Shine a Spotlight" on Rising Talent (Exclusive)

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images; Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic; Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images
From left: Gamze Erguven, Marielle Heller, Jennifer Kent

The Alice Initiative includes 20 women who have directed at least one (nonstudio) feature and 10 who have earned attention for their work in TV or short films.

Think of it as the Black List, but for up-and-coming women directors.

On Wednesday, a group of female film executives launched The Alice Initiative to highlight 30 promising untapped talents, as voted on by more than 40 top industry players. The list — which includes 20 women who have directed at least one (nonstudio) feature and 10 who have earned attention for their work in TV or short films — comes after a report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film concluded that female filmmakers directed just 9 percent of the top 250 movies in 2015.

The group members, who are so far remaining anonymous but who represent mid- to top-level film executives at every major studio and several top production companies, had found that when searching for directors for their projects, they ended up calling one another for suggestions of talented women, hence the desire for a formal list. Inaugural honorees include Sundance breakouts Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl) and Sian Heder (Tallulah), promising genre talent Jennifer Kent (The Babadook) and international helmers like Deniz Gamze Erguven (Mustang).

The Alice Initiative is named after French filmmaker Alice Guy-Blache, who is widely considered the first female director. She was a pioneer in the field and helmed more than 1,000 films during her career in the early 1900s.

The women behind the Alice Initiative have chosen to not reveal their names in hopes of avoiding any campaigning by agents or other groups to get certain names on the list. The Black List, the influential annual survey of top unproduced screenplays as voted by industry executives, has become subject to heavy lobbying. The Alice organizers plan to make sure that the list is curated purely by other producers and notable execs working in film.

And the list doesn't end at 30 names: The Alice Initiative's website, thealiceinitiative.com, also includes a master list of hundreds more women directors currently working in TV and film. The group tells The Hollywood Reporter in a statement, “By sharing this list, our hope is to shine a spotlight on this talented next wave of female directors. We hope producers and executives will use it as a reference as they build lists to fill open directing assignments to ensure no capable woman is left off."

See the complete list from the the Alice Initiative below:

Directors With Feature Work

Alice Winocour (Disorder)
Ana Lily Amirpour (Girl Walks Home Alone at Night)
Andrea Arnold (American Honey)
Anna Rose Holmer (The Fits)
Dee Rees (Pariah)
Deniz Gamze Erguven (Mustang)
Gillian Robespierre (Obvious Child)
Hannah Fidell (6 Years, A Teacher)
Jennifer Kent (The Babadook)
Julia Ducournau (Raw)
Lake Bell (In a World ...)
Leigh Janiak (Honeymoon)
Michelle MacLaren (Population 436, Game of Thrones)
Marielle Heller (Diary of a Teenage Girl)
Nisha Ganatra (Cake, Transparent)
Rachel Goldenberg (Deadly Adoption)
Rebecca Johnson (Honeytrap)
Rebecca Thomas (Electrick Children)
Sian Heder (Tallulah)
SJ Clarkson (Toast, Jessica Jones pilot)
 
Directors With Non-Feature Work
 
Amy Seimetz (The Girlfriend Experience)
Amy York Rubin (Foursome)
Emily Carmichael (Stryka short)
Emily Kai Bock (Grimes music videos)
Frankie Shaw (SMILF short, Too Legit short)
Katja Blichfeld (High Maintenance)
Melina Matsoukas (Insecure pilot)
Pippa Bianco (Share short)
Ryan Case (Wrecked, The Mindy Project)
Sarah Getrude Shapiro (Sequin Raze short, UnREAL creator)

A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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