Women They Talk About

In 2019, the American Film Institute’s AFI Catalog of Feature Films embarked upon a three-year initiative titled “Women They Talk About” to support unprecedented empirical research about the role of gender throughout the first century of the American film industry, 1893-1993. With generous grant funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and The David and Lura Lovell Foundation, the project repurposed AFI’s uniquely comprehensive, academic data to secure early female filmmakers in the historical canon. “Women They Talk About,” named after the 1928 feature film, was specifically designed to use data as a narrative tool to engender the true story of women as forerunners in the industry.

In addition to creating a curricular resource for grades 9-12, “Women They Talk About” will present user-generated and application-driven reports with data visualizations on the AFI Catalog homepage and at AFI.com to illustrate, and authenticate, women’s contributions, and to position gender parity as a foundational element of cultural, economic, and labor history.

Read more about the project and see the final results on the WTTA website.

Filmmaker Lois Weber on the set of The Dumb Girl of Portici (1916). Courtesy of the Library of Congress.