Alison Emilio to Head New Project to Tackle Gender Gap in Film Industry

Women In Film and Sundance Institute make Emilio director of Systemic Change Project

The Sundance Institute and Women in Film Los Angeles have hired Alison Emilio as director of the newly created Systemic Change Project, which is aimed at improving gender parity in the filmmaking industry.

Announced this week, the role was created to help spark change in the industry. After four years of research, WIF and Sundance have amassed an arsenal of evidence of about the nature of the problem.

Now, Emilio is armed with powerful data and is aiming to bridge the gender gap in the film industry.

Emilio has spent more than 25 years in entertainment, with expertise in marketing, communications, branding, strategic partnerships, media relations, fundraising, cultural arts advocacy and nonprofits in both the U.S. and Canada. She will begin working with WIF in July.

The Systemic Change Project grew out of a two-day meeting among industry leaders who shared research with the goal of making plans for concrete action. The aim is to build a coalition of industry leaders to take tangible steps that will bring about measurable progress in achieving gender equity, with an initial emphasis on female directors in film and television.

“In Alison Emilio we have found the leader we need to manage our multi-faceted project, and we look forward to building momentum as we engage and unify decision makers in Hollywood,” said Keri Putnam, executive director of the Sundance Institute, in a statement.

“She has the programmatic experience, management skills and film industry relationships to oversee the dynamic systemic change strategy we seek to advance gender equality in media,” said Kirsten Schaffer, Executive Director of Women In Film Los Angeles.

Sundance Institute and WIF initially partnered on the project to conduct research to better understand the systemic causes of the gender parity gap in Hollywood. They commissioned their research from USC’s Annenberg School. Their studies succinctly identify barriers and the most consistent “fall out” points for female filmmakers from the earliest development of projects at Sundance Institute Labs, through the festival experience, and then into the marketplace.

Emilio’s hire represents the next step in the project: to seek solutions.

Also from the statement:

[Emilio’s] film industry career spans 25 years working as an entertainment executive at film companies in the US and Canada, including Norstar Releasing, Lorimar Filmed Entertainment, and as Senior Vice President, Marketing and Publicity for New Line Cinema. She ran the US office of the Toronto/Ontario Media Development Corporation for 10 years. Most recently, Alison served as Vice President, Marketing and Strategic Partnerships for CreativeFuture where she was instrumental in expanding the coalition, establishing strategic partnerships, and advancing the organization as an independent voice to advocate for artists’ rights. Her social justice experience includes working with the homeless at the Weingart Center and with Optimist Youth Homes on youth at risk. Her environmental work includes Oceana, CBS EcoMedia, and Big Sunday/LAUSD projects. Alison serves on the Advisory Board for the Horizon Award whose mission is to advance gender parity in media and provide sponsorship and mentorship for the next generation of female filmmakers.

“I look forward to working with both established and new industry advocates, regardless of gender, on this program that is vital to the equal rights and opportunities of women in the entertainment industries,” said Emilio.

The Systemic Change Project is funded by BMW of North America and Women at Sundance leadership supporters The Harnisch Foundation and Refinery29. Added support comes from Kering, The Jacquelyn & Gregory Zehner Foundation, Morgan Stanley Global Sports and Entertainment, Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy, IMDbPro, Abigail Disney and Pierre Hauser, and Ann Lovell.

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