The Tribeca Film Festival Makes History for Female Directors in 2015

This year, 30 female directors out of 119 are showing feature-length films, the highest percentage ever at the Tribeca Film Festival (TFF). Nine of these directors, as well as two screenwriters, are eligible for the Nora Ephron Award. Norah Ephron transformed romantic comedy in film through her productions of When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail. Sponsored by Coach, the award recognizes a female director whose film reflects the vision of the legendary filmmaker and writer. TFF hopes that with this award they can inspire future generations of filmmakers to bring compelling stories to the screen. The Festival created the award in 2013, and in it’s inaugural year the Prize went to Meera Menon, the writer and director of Farah Goes Bang. The winner of the prize receives $25,000.

Being 14, directed by Hélène Zimmer. Photo from

Being 14 by Hélène Zimmer.                                                                                                                              Source:

The Tribeca Film Festival was created in 2002 by Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro and Craig Hatkoff, supposedly to revitalize the Tribeca neighborhood in Lower Manhattan after the September 11th attach on the World Trade Center.  It now generates 600 million and draws about three million people to the festival each year.

Twelve of the forty first-time filmmakers this year are female directors based out of New York City. Check out the list of all the films presented by these female first-timers on the TFF website here.

Highlighting female filmmakers at TFF is encouraging despite the fact that the percentage of women directors working on top grossing films has actually declined for the last seventeen years. According to Dr. Marth M. Lauzen, executive director for the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film in San Diego State University, in an article by Downtown Express, the number has dropped from nine percent in 1998 to seven percent in 2014. However, over the last seven years the percentage of women directing documentary films has remained stable at 28 percent, while the percentage of women directing independently-produced narrative features has increased slighting from 15 percent in 2009 to 18 percent in 2014.

Mary J. Blige: The London Sessions, directed by  Sam Wrench. Photo from

Mary J. Blige: The London Sessions, directed by Sam Wrench. Source:

Some of this year’s female filmmakers at TFF include Ivy Meeropol, who is returning to the Festival to show Indian Point after her 2004 documentary Heir to an Execution. Four time festival alumnae Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg return this year with In My Father’s House. Making her directorial debut as this year’s festival is Leah Wolchok with Very Semi-Serious. Cinematographer Reed Morano is making her directorial debut with Meadowland, and French actress-writer Helene Zimmer directed Being 14. Additionally, the subject matter of documentaries this year include the strong women Misty Copeland, Mary J. Blige, and Roseanne Barr.

Meadowland, directed by  Reed Morano. Photo from

Meadowland, directed by Reed Morano. Source:

The festival begins this week on April 15th and ends on April 26th. The “Saturday Night Live” documentary “Live from New York!” will open the festival this year. Check out the TFF website for the screening schedule and tickets.


IMG_9202I’m the Senior Editor of Women’s iLab and the Director of Operations for Kite, an app that allows you to share news and articles. One of my labors of love is co-organizing #ArtsTech meetup, which focuses on the intersection of art and technology. One of my greatest passions is world travel: when I’m not home in New York City, you’ll find me somewhere in Europe, Asia, or Latin America. I graduated from the George Washington University with a BA in Art History. Get in touch with me on twitter @amaiou.
Read more about and from the author: Amanda’s WiLab Profile