The Sundance Film Festival has long been the harbinger of Hollywood’s next wave, so it makes sense that this year’s festival, currently ongoing, is hoping to be ground zero for a whole new, much-needed shift in mainstream film: more female directors.
The #4PercentChallenge, named such after the shockingly low portion of female-identifying directors behind the 1,200 highest-grossing films over last decade, is a new collaborative movement between TIME’S UP and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative that’s challenging actors and producers across the film industry to make the pledge to work with a female director over the next 18 months. Actress Tessa Thompson (Creed, Sorry to Bother You), announced the movement last Friday night during her keynote speech at Sundance:
“Because only 4% of the top 100 studio films over the last DECADE have been directed by women, #TIMESUP is initiating a challenge, the 4% challenge, and I intend to take it: I commit to working with a female director in the next 18 months.” –@TessaThompson_x #TIMESUPX2 pic.twitter.com/GjsuqeryKj
— TIME'S UP (@TIMESUPNOW) January 26, 2019
An increase in female directors doesn’t just mean more diversity behind the camera: according to the challenge’s website, “studies show that women-directed films are more inclusive in terms of girls and women on screen, female characters 40 years of age and older and underrepresented racial/ethnic groups.” Not a hard decision to make, considering the further data showing that female-led films have led at the box office over the past five years.Hollywood’s lack of overall diversity is nothing new, but the near-immediate embrace of the #4PercentChallenge shows an industry filled with those eager for change:
I officially accept the #4percentchallenge to announce a project with a female director on a feature film in the next 18 months. No better time to start than now with my new film #Hustlers directed by @lorenescafaria@inclusionists #TIMESUPX2
— Jennifer Lopez (@JLo) January 28, 2019
I’m in 🙋🏼♀️ – who else is ready to step up? https://t.co/iJkMso206j
— Brie Larson (@brielarson) January 26, 2019
A full and growing list of media personalities who have already taken the pledge—including Amy Schumer, JJ Abrams, Jordan Peele, John Legend, and Reese Witherspoon, among others—can be found on the 4% Challenge website.