Citizen Jane Film Festival kicks off 10th year Thursday

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COLUMBIA - Only seven percent of the top grossing films are directed by women and the Citizen Jane Film Festival hopes to help change that statistic and bring more women into higher positions within the film industry.

This year marks the 10th year of the annual festival in Columbia, put on by Stephens College.

"It’s a regular film festival, but it also has that mission of showcasing women in the area of film," festival director Barbie Banks said. 

The festival began in order to give students in Stephens College's digital film program more chances to meet women in the industry and see their work. 

"We are creating filmmakers here and we found that they weren’t really getting the chance to meet other female directors," Banks said. "Having a film festival and bringing those directors here and allowing them to interact with our students just made sense."

The festival will showcase around 30 films this weekend and will have other special events throughout. The films begin rolling on Friday, but the festival opens with a summit on Thursday night at Senior Hall with a panel of professionals discussing the state of women in the film industry. 

As for the 10th year celebration, Banks said Citizen Jane isn't doing anything too different, but just trying to build it more. 

"We’ve been doing this and been fighting for the same causes, and we’re probably going to have to keep fighting for a while," she said. "As for the 10th year, we're kind of doing a lot of the same stuff but just enhancing it a little, so bigger parties, bigger films and bigger names are coming."

Another thing that's new this year is the festival will be giving an award to the world's top grossing female screenwriter, Linda Woolverton, this weekend. 

"Now that we’ve done this for 10 years, we can start giving recognition and honoring the women that have been doing this long before we have," Banks said.

The festival is expected to bring in more than six thousand people, a number that's growing every year according to Banks. It's already sold out passes and some films as well, which Banks said is not an every-year occurrence. 

With only four of the top 100 films in 2016 directed by women, Banks said getting more young female filmmakers involved and educated on the industry can lead to positive change. 

"We want to see that change and we think if it does change, we’ll see better representation on film and we’ll see less of the sexual harassment that’s been coming out in the film industry as we get more women into those positions," she said. 

Available tickets can be found here on Citizen Jane's website