October 4, 2018 / 5:57 PM / a month ago

Oscars body launches new initiatives to support women filmmakers

FILE PHOTO: An Oscar statue is seen outside the Dolby Theatre during preparations for the Oscars in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. March 3, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The organizers of the Oscars announced a string of new initiatives on Thursday aimed at encouraging female filmmakers.

Called “Action: The Academy Women’s Initiative,” the program will include a one-year fellowship for women filmmakers and executives, a lunch that will bring together women across the industry, and a directory aimed at improving female networking and hiring opportunities.

The announcement by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences follows pressure from women in the movie industry for stronger voices, better pay and more jobs behind and in front of the camera.

“As we continue to advocate for inclusion, we are honored to bring Academy members and the filmmaking community together to support women in all stages of their careers,” Academy Chief Executive Dawn Hudson said in a statement.

The Women of the Academy lunch will take place in London and Los Angeles later this month. The one-year fellowship will be awarded to an emerging woman filmmaker in the United States, and in Britain.

The Academy, whose 8,000 members vote on the annual Oscars, has made efforts in the past two years to diversify its mostly white, old, and male-dominated ranks by inviting hundreds of women and people of color to join its ranks.

In 2016, the Academy vowed to double its number of women and diverse members by 2020.

According to a June report by the Directors Guild of America, only 16 percent of the 651 movies released in the United States in 2017 were directed by women.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Tom Brown

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