LUNAFEST® Study Reveals Many Female Filmmakers’ Careers Begin and End with Short Films

Leading Short Film Festival for Female Filmmakers Spotlights
Importance of Diversification in Film

a national fundraising film festival that showcases short films by, for,
and about women, celebrates its 15th year of supporting
female filmmakers with a new study executed in partnership with Stacy L.
Smith, Ph.D., and USC Annenberg’s Media, Diversity, & Social Change

“LUNAFEST has featured a unique group of female filmmakers over the last
15 years that provided a compelling group for us to study,” said Dr.
Stacy L. Smith of USC Annenberg. “Looking to the challenges these
filmmakers face after graduating from short filmmaking to independent or
mainstream fare sheds light on the importance of finding ways for female
filmmakers to share their stories.”

The study, “Gender & Short Films: Emerging Female Filmmakers and the
Barriers Surrounding Their Careers,”
examined the independent
film landscape and the group of LUNAFEST female filmmakers since the
festival’s beginning. The study found that women comprise only 32
percent of directors of short and mid-length films overall at 10
worldwide festivals. In comparison, women directed 18 percent of
independent feature films at one festival across 13 years, and just four
percent of top-grossing Hollywood movies in the same time frame.

“We started LUNAFEST 15 years ago to address the gender disparity in
filmmaking,” said Suzy Starke German, LUNAFEST Program Manager. “Yet, in
the broader film industry today, the challenges for women in film still
remain. By working with Dr. Smith’s team at USC, we’re trying to
understand what we can do as a film festival to continue to be a strong
ally to female filmmakers and help elevate the incredible work they are

One outcome of limited career opportunities for women may be skewed
representation on screen. Top findings that showcase LUNAFEST’s
dedication to providing a platform for women on-and-off the screen

  • LUNAFEST directors amplify the number of women on screen. Across
    115 LUNAFEST short films, a total of 63 percent of the 744 speaking or
    named characters evaluated were female and only 37 percent were male.
    Nearly 81 percent depicted a female lead/co-lead driving the plot.
    These findings are in stark contrast to the 100 top films of 2014,
    where 28 percent of speaking or named characters were female and only
    21 percent of leads or co-leads featured a girl or woman.
  • LUNAFEST filmmakers lead to more diversity of character
    . Of the 715 characters that could be evaluated in
    LUNAFEST shorts, 38 percent were from underrepresented racial/ethnic
    groups. A full 37 percent of the short films’ leads or co-leads were
    from an underrepresented racial/ethnic group. This deviates from
    mainstream content, as nearly 27 percent of characters and 17 percent
    of leads or co-leads in the 100 top films of 2014 were from
    underrepresented racial/ethnic groups.

“The study provides further evidence that when we have diversity behind
the camera, on-screen depictions better approximate the diversity we see
around us off-screen,” said Smith. “The Media, Diversity, & Social
Change Initiative at USC Annenberg and the LUNAFEST team are inspired by
the work of these filmmakers and our hope is that all of these women
garner the audience they deserve, and the caliber of their work is
recognized by a broader, more mainstream audience.”

LUNAFEST’s goal since its inception has been to generate interest and
excitement for content created by women, whose voices and vision are
largely absent from mainstream cinema. To date, the film festival has
received over 10,000 short film submissions, worked with over 100 female
directors, and had female-directed films viewed by more than 300,000
people across the U.S.

“The results from this study reveal why supporting female filmmakers and
their work is one step toward changing the landscape in media,” said
Starke German. “We are proud that LUNA and LUNAFEST are committed to
being by, for, and about women every year.”

For more information on this year’s LUNAFEST season, and to find out
about upcoming screening locations, please visit,
To read the larger findings, please visit the study.

About LUNA®

LUNA® nourishes women with delicious snacks. LUNA connects, supports and
champions women with programs such as LUNAFEST®, a national traveling
fundraising festival of short films by, for, and about women, and Team
LUNA Chix, an all-women’s sport group inspiring women to learn new
sports and be active. LUNA proudly donates one percent of its sales to a
variety of women’s nonprofits and the Breast Cancer Fund through the
Clif Bar Family Foundation. (


Clif Bar
Meaghan Praznik, 510-596-6592