Cate Blanchett launches female, trans and non-binary film fund after being ‘only woman on set’

Cate Blanchett launches filming fund for female, trans and non-binary people.

Hollywood star Cate Blanchett has partnered with University of Southern California to uplift stories created by women, trans and non-binary people in the film industry.

The Oscar-winning actor, who has starred in acclaimed LGBTQ+ dramas such as Carol and Tár in recent years, launched the Proof of Concept Accelerator Program alongside the co-founder of her independent film company, Dirty Films, Coco Francini, and Dr. Stacy L. Smith, who founded the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. The initiative has also received backing from Netflix’s Fund for Creative Equity.

Inspiration for the vital fund struck Blanchett when she walked onto an undisclosed movie set and witnessed its woeful lack of diversity.

“I was not only the only woman in front of the camera, I was the only woman on set. My shoulders sank. I wasn’t angry, I was disappointed,” she told People.

Determined to not be “complacent”, Blanchett founded the new fund in the hopes of providing aspiring marginalised filmmakers with three things they are often lacking: money, mentorship and exposure.

Dr. Stacy Smith, Cate Blanchett and Producer Coco Francini.
Left-right: Dr. Stacy Smith, Cate Blanchett and producer Coco Francini. (Getty)

Blanchett explained that although it seems like things are “shifting” within the film industry, it is simply “not moving quickly enough.”

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Described as a “really functional, turbo-powered” project which tackles “the challenges we see”, Blanchett added: “This initiative is really, really exciting.”

The news comes after the 2023 Oscars ceremony sparked outrage among film fans when no woman was nominated for the Best Director category.

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Data from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found only six per cent of the top-grossing films between 2007 and 2022 had female directors. Even more shockingly, less than one-third of all speaking characters in those films were girls, women, trans or non-binary people.

Francini hopes the fund will serve as an opportunity to fund “daring and diverse perspective.”

“Despite the success of films like [Greta Gerwig’s] Barbie, [Lulu Wang’s] The Farewell, or [Celine Song’s] Past Lives, it is as challenging as ever to launch audaciously authored work from new creators,” Francini noted. “Particularly those who tell stories from the perspective of marginalised gender identities.

“Proof of Concept is an actionable step to create meaningful and sustainable opportunities for these filmmakers.”

Up to eight filmmakers will be chosen to receive $50,000 (£39,497) to create a proof of concept for their feature film or TV series. They will also have one-to-one mentorship from industry insiders.

For Blanchett, it’s particularly important for these budding filmmakers to not see their work as a “risk” or as part of a wider box-ticking exercise.

She concluded: “We’re missing an enormous creative opportunity by not diversifying. We deplore creative laziness, we deplore financial laziness, and so we should therefore deplore a lack of inclusivity.

“Homogeneity in any industry is the death of progress and innovation.”

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