At this year’s 63rd Berlin International Film Festival, the Dortmund | Cologne International Women’s Film Festival and the Athena Film Festival in NY have been calling on national and international representatives from film festivals, networks and the film business to raise further awareness of the issue in the media and to draw up an international agenda that will ensure sustainable progress and ultimately lead to gender equality for women directors in the industry.
“You Cannes Not Be Serious” was the cry of the first international protest in 2010 for a fairer representation of women in the main competition section at Cannes. “We are raising our voices in protest in hopes that in future this will never happen again. We are watching. We will not be silent”. And indeed the women are not remaining quiet. In 2012, the Cannes Film Festival again became the focus of worldwide criticism for repeatedly disregarding women film directors and their work – a characteristic shared by other top-tier festivals. Only once during the entire history of the festival has the Palme d’Or been awarded to a female director, in 1993, to Jane Campion (she shared the award that year with Chen Kaige.) To date, only four women have picked up first prize at the Berlin and Venice competitions, and only Kathryn Bigelow has won an Academy Award for Best Director.
Despite these sobering statistics, the organizers of the panel discussion are as convinced as ever that films made by women meet the international standards as defined by the big-name festivals. During the Women’s Film Festival held 2012 in Cologne, a number of women’s film festivals, women’s film networks and organizations joined forces to create the International Women’s Film Festival Network (IWFFN).
Diverse activities have started at a number of organisations in Europe, the Middle East, North and South America and Asia to research the status of women directors. For example, the co-ordinator of the European Women’s Audiovisual network – Francine Hetherington Raveney – compiled a report containing new statistics relating to box-office and art-house successes of female directors throughout Europe. In addition, one of the goals of the Swedish Film Institute (SFI) is to achieve gender equality in the workplace with the Film Agreement for 2013-2015, stating: “funding shall be divided equally between women and men”. And in a new partnership in the USA, the Sundance Institute and Women in Film has set up the Women Filmmaker’s Initiative to address the scarcity of women directors and “to accelerate that change by discovering, spotlighting and forging more effective ways for women to succeed as the storytellers who shape our cultural landscape.”
The first research report was published at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The European Women’s Audiovisual network is also working alongside research institutes such as Birkbeck College, University of London, and Stockholm Academy of the Arts to devise new programmes of study on gender and media in Europe.
Never before have women’s films festivals and supporters of a more equitable playing field for women-directed work joined together to raise our voices in unison and address this problem. The goal of gaining an equal place for women must remain the vision until a fair and properly balanced proportion is achieved.
”You Cannot Be Serious – A Discussion on the Status of Women Directors“ is a co-operation of the Dortmund | Cologne International Women’s Film Festival and the Athena Film Festival in NY. All panelists are available for interviews before and after the discussion.
For press information and interview inquiries, please contact:
Silke Lehmann (Greenhouse PR) +49 178 525 9874
Stefanie Görtz (Dortmund | Cologne IWFF) +49 231 5025490, +49 170 2037198
With the Support of: