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Fifth Workshop – Tuesday 29 September to Thursday 1 October 2015 in Santpoort, Netherlands

Module 5 – Gender / Quotas Issue – Update on Funds’ Strategies

During the Second MEDICI Workshop, the last module was devoted to "gender". Since then, various funds have set up working groups or even specific programmes to ensure women receive more support and are more present in the film industry. This module provides an opportunity to share statistics, views and steps already performed by the funds.

Or, in other words:

In a Nutshell



You only made one film

How they are working for Gender Equality in Sweden

Please also see Anna Serner’s presentation (PDF)

“I think it is better to be criticised for what you are doing than for what you are saying” (Anna Serner)

The SFI’s five-point action plan for establishing gender equality (2012-2015)

  1. There are few female directors that are competent enough.
    To counter this argument, the SFI started collecting the names of all female directors in the Nordic region. The project unfortunately was eventually reduced only to Sweden, because other Nordic countries withdrew.
  2. Women never get to make their second or third film.
    The SFI initiated the programme within which they invited 5 established female directors (one from Denmark and 4 from Sweden) and connected them with ten young female directors who had made only one feature film. This way young women directors created a network and did not feel so alone any longer. Most of them are releasing their second feature films right now.
  3. There are not as many young women as men who dream of becoming a film director.
    Why do so few female filmmakers apply for support from funds? To tackle this issue, the SFI decided that they needed to start from the film schools. They made a survey in their film schools. Both male and female students were asked whether they believe they can become successful film directors. Women said no, and men said yes. They concluded that women can apply when you offer them the possibility to get money, but they usually feel that there is no possibility for them to succeed and therefore they simply don’t apply.
  4. Counting the percentage of women as compared to men does not lead to equality.
    It is important to count all the time, analyse the figures on many levels and publish studies. However, counting and communicating figures is the easiest part. You need to set the desirable figures you want to achieve and act accordingly. In Sweden, they established the female schemes and thus put women on high demand. Producers now want to work with them. In 2005, for example, women directed only 19% of the films supported by the SFI. The situation was even worse when it came to market films without SFI support (10%). Some moderate measures were introduced, and some minor improvements happened, but quotas were out of the question. Then they tighten their policies in 2011 and finally fulfilled the 50-50% quota in 2015. However, they do not want to keep this quota all the time. The percentages do need to vary, but on the basis of quality not discrimination.
  5. Those in power do not want to see things change

The results of the SFI’s action plan in figures

Gender equality

Side effects and other implications

Gender equality within Eurimages

Please also see Isabel Castro’s presentation (PDF)

Eurimages must take care of gender equality because it is part of the Council of Europe where diversity is on the agenda” (Isabel Castro, Deputy Director of Eurimages)

To-date steps in Eurimages’ gender equality agenda

The question of gender equality in Eurimages was raised during a management meeting in Vilnius in 2013 (outcome of the third MEDICI Workshop). The following actions have been taken:


Gender analysis tools

1. Determining the gender of a project

2. Defining the gender of fiction films’ scripts

3. Gender-based budget analysis

Two categories of result indicators

  1. Measuring degree of gender equality (project gender, selection rate, support amount rate, film budgets, salaries of producers and directors)
  2. Measuring the representation and role of women on screen. In measuring this, they apply the Bechdel test, counting the number of female roles, pay attention to the age and responsibilities of the main characters, detect stereotypes, clichés, etc.

The results of Eurimages’ strategy in figures


Outcomes of the group discussion

The Situation in Other European Countries

FFA: German law requires a 50-50% gender quota. It is particularly emphasised in TV productions and the public broadcaster passed a declaration on the quota system. Regarding the film industry, there are a lot qualified female directors in Germany. 50% of students at film schools are women, but less than 25% of them actively enter the film industry.

Georgian National Film Center: In Georgia, female directors make most of the films, so they do not feel the need for any quota system.

Danish Film Institute: The DFI believes that it should work with gender equality to the extent that it can bring films of better quality. But they believe that film funds are not the right place for regulating gender equality quotas and policies.

Wallonia Brussels Federation: Gender equality in film is a problem in the French Community. The question in Belgium is not anymore “why” but “how”. There has been some improvement. The Eurimages gender grids should be used on a national level.

Icelandic Film Center: The problem in Iceland is that they have very few women that apply to their fund. Film schools are filled in with men, which makes any gender equality initiative on their part impossible at this moment.

Austrian Film Institute: In Austria, they are lacking female producers. Thus, the film institute has launched a training programme for emerging female producers or for women who intend to work within the sector independently, not in the shadow of a famous male producer. The idea is to find mentors and role models that would be in charge of the training. They also want to raise awareness within their selection committee because sometimes it is not enough just to have an equal number of men and women sitting on the committee.

Irish Film Board: What creates an additional problem in Ireland is the fact that they are also part of the Anglo-American film culture where gender inequality is even more pronounced than in Europe.

OMDC: Sometimes it is not only a male-female bias, but also female-female bias that leads to gender inequality. In some funds, 70% of people are woman but they still support only male-dominated projects.

International co-productions, Development, Gender and quotas

Illustrations by Gijs van der Lelij

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