AFI Gets $350K NEH Grant for Gender Parity Film Study

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The project will use the 'AFI Catalog of Feature Films' to look at women's employment during the film industry's first century.

The American Film Institute has received a $350,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study gender parity in the history of American film.

Taking its name from director Lloyd Bacon's lost 1928 film, Women They Talk About, the study will 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 AFI said. 

The project will be led by the research team at the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, the freely accessible database of every American film released in the first 100 years of the art form. 

Women They Talk About will use what is described as cutting-edge technology to discuss gender roles in the AFI Catalog's collection of more than 500,000 credits in the first century of the film industry, providing new empirical evidence about employment and gender parity in the film industry.

"Women They Talk About is a game-changer for the story of women's roles in film," said Sarah Blankfort Clothier, manager of the 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," NEH chairman Jon Parrish Peede said of Thursday's grant recipients. "NEH is proud to support the advancement of learning and sharing of knowledge nationwide."