Vimeo is taking a stab at Hollywood’s glass ceiling as the video-sharing website launches a new three-part initiative to support and empower female filmmakers. Vimeo announced the new program, called Share The Screen, at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival on Thursday; according to an official press release, Share The Screen “aims to foster gender equality with a financial commitment to invest in female-led programming, educational workshops, and onsite promotions spotlighting female voices.”
“One of the best things about our platform is that it’s open to everyone, and we’re proud to say that we have many amazing female filmmakers building their careers on Vimeo,” says Kerry Trainor, Vimeo’s CEO. “It’s extremely unfortunate that the traditional industry has allowed things to be out of balance for so long, in terms of equality of opportunity for men and women, but it’s very exciting that Vimeo can do something to help correct that imbalance.”
Share The Screen already has its first original short lined up, called Darby Forever. The short was written by and stars Saturday Night Live’s Aidy Bryant as Darby, a shopgirl at a small-town fabric store. Luka Jones, Retta, and Natasha Lyonne also star. Darby Forever is currently available for pre-order and will debut on Vimeo on Febraury 18.
According to a report from the Center For The Study Of Women In Television And Film at San Diego State University, in 2015, women only comprised 9 percent of directors for the top 250 domestic-grossing films and 12 percent of directors for the top 500 domestic-grossing films. Those numbers increased by 2 percent from 2014, but don’t let that “improvement” fool you into thinking progress actually occurred: The numbers for 2015 indicated the same level of representation for women as 1998, so that glass ceiling is still very much in place. Jessica Chastain has spoken out about the barriers to female filmmakers, and Meryl Streep funded a screenwriting lab for women over 40 last year. In October, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) began investigating Hollywood’s systemic failure to hire female directors, contacting women in the film and TV industries in order to learn more about the discrimination they face.
In launching Share The Screen, Vimeo is attempting to do something about the problem. Through the initiative, Vimeo has committed to investing in a minimum of five projects from female filmmakers this year. Taking its cues from the Sundance Institute—which hosts educational labs for filmmakers and writers—Vimeo will also host educational seminars throughout the year at Sundance workshops. Share The Screen has also put together a curated list of female-directed projects available on VOD on the website. The collection currently includes Crystal Moselle’s The Wolfpack, Mélanie Laurent’s Breathe, Lucy Walker’s The Crash Reel, Penny Lane’s Our Nixon, and Céline Sciamma’s Girlhood, among others.