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NYC launches $5M grant program to help female filmmakers ‘shape their own stories’

The Women’s Fund aims to “combat gender bias” in the industry.

New York City has launched a $5 million

New York City has launched a $5 million grant project to back film and theater projects by and about women. Photo Credit: Dmitry Zhukov

New York City is backing diverse creators in the entertainment industry with a new initiative that will put millions behind movie and theater projects by and about women.

“We are determined to ensure that women are able to tell and shape their own stories,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement Wednesday.

The mayor, along with Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen, unveiled The Women’s Fund — a $5 million grant program that looks to “combat gender bias” in Hollywood by helping female filmmakers get their projects off the ground.

Women made up only 11 percent of the directors and writers behind the 250 top-grossing films released in 2017, according to a report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. It’s numbers like this that inspired the mayor’s office to offer up a way to insight an industrywide change, starting within the five boroughs.

“We see discrimination women face in the media and entertainment industries every day, and we say, enough is enough,” Glen said. “We intend to harness the power and talent of New York women to start business, grow jobs and industries — including the media industry.”

The Women’s Fund aims to put up to $50,000 behind a predicted 100 total projects that were produced within New York City, according to a release. Filmmakers will be eligible to enter their film and theater projects through the mayor’s office for consideration within a number of categories including long-form fiction and nonfiction. Since films need to be near-completion to be considered, the grants will go toward helping the filmmakers through the final stages of production, including distribution.

The only catch: The city has to have a predominant place in the project, whether it focuses on a specific neighborhood’s diversity or simply features Central Park as a backdrop is up to the filmmaker. Submission dates have not yet been announced.

“This fund is a huge step in the right direction and reflects this administration’s commitment to fairness and inclusion,” MOME Commissioner Julie Menin said. “It’s time for women to get equal representation on screen and behind the scenes.”

The Women’s Fund comes after the mayor’s office’s first-ever Greenlight Her screenwriting competition, which took place earlier this year. Open to female filmmakers within the city, the contest helped Patty Carey’s “Half Life” script get a four-episode run on the city’s TV channel, NYC Media.

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