What role do women directors play in the European film industry?
by Fabien Lemercier
- Trends, film budgets, countries taking positive steps, and others that are slower on the uptake: a review of the 2017 statistics published and analysed by Lab Femmes de Cinéma
The first conference on parity, equality, and diversity in cinema starts tomorrow (18 to 20 September in Paris, organised by the 50/50 collective, Le deuxième regard, the CNC and the French Ministry of Culture, as well as stakeholder directors Céline Sciamma, Rebecca Zlotowski, Marie Amachoukeli and Jacques Audiard, producers Carole Scotta and Caroline Bonmarchand and Minister Françoise Nyssen) and while the debate regarding the presence of women at major international festivals kicked off again at Venice recently (with only one woman director in competition), Lab Femmes de Cinéma has published an update to its annual survey (which Arcs Film Festival began in 2016) on the role of women directors in the European film industry.
21.7% of the 1,462 feature films released by 30 European countries in 2017 were directed by women (compared to 20.4% in 2016). Finland was the highest-ranking country, with 43.4% of films by directed by women, followed by Slovakia (41.7%), the Netherlands (38.7%), Austria, Denmark and Sweden. Sweden had the highest overall score (30.9%) for the period from 2012 to 2017, followed by the Netherlands (30.4%), Austria (29.2%), Norway, Germany, Finland and Denmark.
In 2017, the countries with the lowest percentage of films directed by women were Slovenia (0% of the 12 films produced), Turkey (8.1% of the 118 films produced), Romania (8.7% % of 23 films), Spain (10% of 75 films), Italy (10.4% of 103 films) and the United Kingdom (13.7% of 106 films). Over the last six years, the worst performing countries were Latvia (9.3%), Turkey (10%), Italy (10.1%) and the United Kingdom (12.1%). There is also a strong divide between northern and southern European countries (with the exception of the United Kingdom).
In 2017, the proportion of women directing a first or second feature film stood at 25.4%, indicating a favourable trend. Nevertheless, it should be noted that while 50% of film school graduates are women, they make up only one-third of short film directors and the proportion of women directors who have directed a third feature film or beyond is only 17.8%. Furthermore, with an average budget of €3.06 million (calculated based on the productions of five countries with a decent proportion of women directors: Wallonia, Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria), male directors were allocated an average budget of €3.75 million compared to the €1.8 million allocated to women directors.
Some countries have been more proactive than others in combatting the industry’s unequal treatment of men and women, the most proactive being Sweden, where the proportion of films by women directors increased from 16.7% in 2012 to 36.1% in 2017 thanks to regulatory policies (parities, quotas). It is followed closely by Norway. Then come the countries with good results but a slightly slower uptake (Francophone and German-speaking Europe) – countries with slow and lasting changes where women directors are on the rise but are also well represented among the older generations (Denmark, Netherlands, Austria, Ireland). However, there are still various countries in stagnation (Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary).
It should be noted that many Eastern European countries have not yet established institutional measures for women directors and that some southern European countries (Spain, Portugal, Italy) and the United Kingdom – which tend to have lower proportions of women directors – have recently established policies that demonstrate a real desire for change. Finally, committee parity requirements – responsible for examining applications and allocating funding – are now in place in almost a third of all European countries (Spain, Poland, France, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Portugal).
(Translated from French)
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