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Diversity is a major part of our mission here at the Arab Film Festival. We work tirelessly to showcase strong alternate representations of Arabs that contradict the stereotypes seen in much of western media. AFF’s marketing director Aurora Meneghello has been doing diversity research for the festival and has gathered a number of reports which provide valuable insight into many aspects of diversity in both the independent and mainstream film and entertainment industries in the United States and the Arab world.

Race & Ethnicity in Independent Films: Prevalence of Underrepresented Directors and the Barriers They Face by Katherine M. Pieper, Ph.D., Marc Choueiti, & Stacy L. Smith, Ph.D. of the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism

This report focuses on the prevalence and experiences of directors from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in American film. The authors begin with a focus on the race and ethnicity of all directors of a number of US documentaries and dramas screened at the Sundance Film Festival (SFF). They then expand their research to include a number of high-grossing films along with independent SFF films and look at how diversity behind the camera affects on-screen diversity. Finally, they interview a variety of narrative directors from underrepresented groups about their experiences in the industry. Their conclusions show a clear disparity between the opportunities available to White directors and the representation of White people in the industry and on-screen, versus other racial and ethnic groups, especially in mainstream film. They also comment on disparities and barriers due to gender, age and class. 

 

Media Industries in the Middle East – Independent Films: Countries of Production by the Northwestern University in Qatar and the Doha Film Institute

This report focuses on the different countries of production of independent Arab films. The data is based on filmmakers who applied for funding through the Doha Film Institute. The report begins by looking generally at different countries and the percentage of Arab films produced in each. It then looks into which countries commonly produce films that are multi-national productions. This is followed by assessing which non-Middle Eastern countries are also common in the production of Arab films. Finally, the report determines the commonality of certain genres of film in different countries. The genres include: drama, social issues, comedy, women, identity and politics. This report leaves us with a better understanding of the types of countries, cultures and topic areas most represented within Arab independent film. 

2016 Hollywood Diversity Report: Busine$$ as Usual? by Dr. Darnell Hunt, Dr. Ana-Christiana Ramón & Michael Tran of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA

This report is the third in a a series that examines the “relationships between diversity and the bottom line in the Hollywood entertainment industry”. The report focuses on the representation of women and minorities both on-screen and behind the camera. The authors collected data from the top 200 theatrical film releases in 2014 as well as 1,146 different television shows presented on broadcast, cable and digital platforms between 2013 and 2014. The report discusses patterns found in these releases as well as the changes experienced by these groups since the last report. The report’s conclusions not only shows a lack of representation of women and minorities but it also shows a disconnect between what types of media are best received and the types of media that are most produced. Evidence shows that American audiences actually prefer more diverse content. 

Inclusion or Invisibility? Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity in Entertainment by Stacy L. Smith, Ph.D., Marc Choueiti, & Katherine Pieper, Ph.D. of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

This report is an extremely comprehensive look at diversity in the American entertainment industry. The report assesses inclusion both on-screen and behind the camera. Data was compiled from 109 fiction films and 305 series released theatrically, on television, and on digital platforms. All content assessed was distributed by at least one of 10 major media companies: 21st Century Fox, CBS, Comcast NBC Universal, Sony, The Walt Disney Company, Time Warner, Viacom, Amazon, Hulu and Netflix. The report looks at on-screen speaking or named characters and assesses their role, demographic, domesticity and hypersexualization. Behind the camera, the report looks at the gender, race and ethnicity of both the directors and writers of the content analyzed. The authors even expanded their research to the business side of the industry and evaluated the gender composition of the companies’ CEOs, members of executive suites, board of directors, and employees at the Executive Vice President and Senior Vice President levels. The authors’ findings are presented within four major areas: Gender, Race/Ethnicity, LGBT, and Company Inclusion. 

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