Sister acts pack one-two punch in Hollywood

When we think of siblings making movies, amazing sets of brothers usually come to mind : Warners, Marx, Coen, Farrelly, Hughes and Wayans, to name a few. They have lit up Hollywood time and again.

But brothers aren’t the only sets of siblings entertaining us. A recent study by Dr. Stacy Smith, who researches on gender and media at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, has brought into focus the female talent on display in the film industry.

The study covered 1,565 behind-the-scenes employees from a total of 122 films and found only about 7 percent of directors, 13 percent of writers and 20 percent of producers were female — translating into a rather skewed ratio of 4.88 males to every 1 female. However, when it comes to siblings working together, the study discovered a fair number of sister pairings doing well in the same industry.

Some of the more famous names are Nora and Delia Ephron, who co-write romantic comedies; co-producers Sandra Bullock and Gesine Bullock-Prado; and Julia Roberts and sister Lisa Gillan.

But if you thought the sister pairs are limited to those with one big star, you were widely mistaken. The industry also has the Burton sisters — Maria, Jennifer, Ursula, Gabrielle and Charity — who run a family business called the Five Sisters Productions.

As for the Ephrons, all four of the sisters are accomplished writers in their own right. The eldest two, Nora and Delia, began collaborating once the former began directing in the early 1990s. The pair were the writer-director duo behind the 1993 mega-hit Sleepless in Seattle.

Albania-born Greta and Vilma Zenelaj have also made their presence felt in Los Angeles since moving here in 2003. Their first film, What Do I Do Now?, won best comedy at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival in 2009. Their second, a thriller called In the Woods, is making the festival rounds, and Greta is winning awards for her dramatic performance.

Anthropologist Margaret Mead had studied girls in Samoa in the 1920s and concluded that sisters endure the most competitive relationship within the family. However, once the sisters are grown, this relationship becomes the strongest. It is no wonder, then, that quite a few sets of sisters are making a name for themselves in Hollywood.