GENDER EQUALITY
AND THE EUROPEAN FILM INDUSTRY

The European film industry called for an end to gender disparities this month during the Sarajevo Film Festival, with a declaration to adopt policies that will see women fill “key job roles” in all levels of the audiovisual industries.

By Nicole Boyd

European cultural and funding agencies presented and signed the “Women in today’s European film industry: gender matters. Can we do better?” declaration. Stating that – “a true democracy must make full use of the skills, talents and creativity of women and men alike”.

Citing studies and reports, the declaration made three stand-out disparities it currently sees within the AV industry. That women:

  • are considerably underrepresented in key job roles in the film industry;
  • that they are at a significant risk of receiving less favourable treatment than men, in terms of both pay and film funding opportunities;
  • that their work achieves less recognition than that of men.

It plans to address these issues by adopting a range of policies, that will see ‘Euroimage Fund’ raise awareness of the status of women in film, appoint women to more decsion-making roles, and to enhance the prospects for women in film. Whilst also encouraging new film funding opportunites and festival prizes for women. You can read the full declaration, here.

Director Amy Kohn feels at home with a camera mounted on her shoulder image: Even Eames)

Director Amy Kohn feels at home with a camera mounted on her shoulder (image: Even Eames)

Gender equality has been a contentious issue of late within the film industry worldwide.

In the world of celebrity, Hollywood actors Meryl Streep and Patricia Arquette have publically discussed age discrimination and the wage-gap in the media. Emma Watson addressed the UN, in her role as Ambassador to the HeforShe movement. Along with the ‘Ask Her More’ campaign, which confronts the media’s obsession with women’s clothing, hair, nails and even weight during red carpet interviews.

It’s not only celebrities who are making a noise about gender equality. This year saw legendery Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut and partner Lydia begin the Hurlbut Visuals Female Filmmaker Mentorship (HVFFM) program, stating “in a world of male dominance, we wanted to pause and re-direct“.

The time really is past due for the film industry to address these issues. Taking a look at the statistics, the disparity becomes evident.

A recent study undertaken at San Diego State University, The Celluloid Ceiling, found that women occupied only 17% of leadership roles within the top 250 domestic grossing movies of 2014, the same number found in 1998. Of that 17%, women accounted for only 7% of directors, which was worse than the previous study (in 1998 women accounted for 9% of directors).

The numbers dwindle to only 5% for cinematographers and sound designers, with only 1% of women as composers for film. Women were better represented in roles as producers (23%), editors (18%) and writers (11%).

"Milk and Sorrow" director Claudia Llosa image: unknown).

“Milk and Sorrow” director Claudia Llosa.

Writer/producer Stephen Follows twenty-year research into What percentage of a film crew is female?” found that out of the 2,000 top-100 US grossing films between 1994-2013, that women made up a total of 23% of crew roles, with female directors sitting at a diminutive 2% of the US industry.

To give you an idea of what those numbers mean and to see how these disparities play out on real filmsets, take a moment to visit the hilarious and heartbreaking Shit People Say to Women Directors Tumblr page.

Where you’ll see gems like this:

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 5.15.20 pm

And this,

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 5.16.31 pm

The declaration is good news for the European film industry and for European women in film, but it’s not the first of its kind. A similar declaration “Making gender equality a reality” took place in Madrid, May 2009 – since then, women still only make up 20% or less of crew roles in European films.

Whilst it’s encouraging that these gender disparaties are finally being addressed, there’s still a long way to go until we see more women filling crew roles traditionally held by men, or accessing film-funding opportunies.

Sophia Copola behind the lens.

Sophia Copola behind the lens.

Feature Image: Susan Sheldman on the set of ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’.

1 Comment

  • Reply September 8, 2015

    Mad Mats Helgesson

    Cinematographer / Director Reed Morano in the second picture…

Leave a Reply

five × three =