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Women take center stage at Santa Barbara International Film Festival Friday

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Women were in the spotlight on women Friday during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF).

The morning kicked off with a free seminar about women filmmakers, and ended with the American Riveria Award for outstanding achievement in American film being awarded to Kristen Stewart.

During the women filmmakers' seminar, the moderator, Claudia Puig, said 18% of the directors working on the 200 top-grossing films of 2021 were female. A number that women filmmakers said is far too low.

Kadri Koop was the cinematographer for "A Place In The Field". Her suggestion is simple, "Hire more women."

SBIFF organizers brought nine women filmmakers to Casa de la Guerra to lead the panel. They talked about their experiences and what the industry needs to do to get more female voices.

Two aspiring filmmakers were listening.

Hannah Hodges and Marion Suchowiecky are University of California Santa Barbara students who attended the event.

“It’s cool to see this side of it, you know that women are getting to positions of power," said Suchowiecky. "I think that’s really validating and inspiring.”

Koop added the best way to get representation is to make sure the people in charge are encouraging more voices and perspectives.

“Representation and how important it is for us women because we’re a minority in the film industry," said Koop. "And from personal experiences, I’ve been very much encouraged by seeing. Just by seeing other women kicking [butt]."

There were a couple of international filmmakers who spoke too. They said women are even less represented abroad, and changes made in the U.S. could send shock waves around the world.

Their goal is to a see an 50-50 split in female to male voices.

Later Friday evening, Stewart shined on the red carpet. And it was another woman praising Stewart, as Charlize Theron presented Stewart with the American Riviera Award.

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Scott Sheahen

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