Sunday, June 24, 2018
  • Friday, Oct. 27, 2017
Director Sonja Sohn
Progress Report

While the sample size in some cases is limited, there are signs of advancement for female directors that have emerged in recent months. For one, 9 of the 11 films slated for the upcoming AFI Fest’s New Auteurs program are directed by women. And in SHOOT’s Up-and-Coming Directors fall season collection covered in this issue, three of the five filmmakers are women—Mary-Sue Masson, Sonja Sohn and Leonn Ward.

It’s also been a year since the launch of the Free The Bid initiative which recently issued a progress report showing that, for example, the number of female directors invited by BBDO to participate in its bidding process has increased 400%, and the actual number of women directors hired by the agency has doubled.

Last week the AICP announced an expansion of its Commercial Directors Diversity Program which seeks to increase directing opportunities for women and other historically underrepresented groups of people.

And according to a DGA study published last month, the pipeline of new episodic television directors grew larger than ever before and became markedly more inclusive in the 2016-’17 television season – with the percentage of ethnic minority first-time TV directors more than doubling since 2009-’10 and the percentage of women nearly tripling.

While there’s still much to be done, encouraging signs go beyond recent steps forward towards the goal of leveling the gender playing field. Also inspiring is the quality of the voices that are getting the opportunity to be heard.

Consider the case of SHOOT up-and-comer Sohn, known for her role as Detective Kima Greggs on the HBO series The Wire. Sohn has made her directorial debut with Baltimore Rising, a documentary set to debut on HBO next month. The film follows activists, police officers, community leaders and gang affiliates who struggle to hold Baltimore together in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, a 25 year-old African-American who was arrested by the police in April 2015. While being transported in a police van, Gray fell into a coma and was taken to a trauma center. He died a week later due to spinal cord injuries. Sohn felt a compelling need to tell Baltimore’s story. Baltimore Rising sheds light on the incident, its impact on an already damaged community, and the long simmering issues involved.

About the author

Robert Goldrich is an editor for