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INDUSTRY / MARKET Germany

The FFHSH introduces diversity checklists

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- The most ambitious film fund in Germany is introducing checklists to encourage and ensure diversity in front of and behind the camera

The FFHSH introduces diversity checklists
Helge Albers, managing director of the FFHSH (© Jasper Ehrich Photography)

The Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein (FFHSH), the most ambitious film fund in Germany, is introducing diversity checklists to tackle the issue of diversity in the film industry. In line with the preamble of its funding guidelines, the FFHSH seeks to promote the representation of a diverse, multicultural and inclusive society without discrimination on the basis of age, appearance, disability, gender, skin colour, background, religion or belief, sexual identity or socio-economic status. It thus becomes mandatory for funding applicants to answer a series of questions when applying for development, production or distribution support.

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“We want to see our versatile, multicultural society in a modern and diverse way on screen,” says Helge Albers, managing director of the FFHSH. “With our diversity checklist, we want to sensitise our applicants for more diversity in film. Just as we put ecological sustainability on our agenda a few years ago, now it’s about time to question unconscious prejudices and clichés. Our diversity checklists and the more diverse team composition of our funding committee are a first step. Last but not least, it is an open secret that diversity and commercial potential are not a contradiction.”

To develop a better understanding of the extent to which these values are already present in the projects applying for funding, and as an incentive for a more detailed examination of the topic of diversity in front of and behind the camera, the FFHSH asks if topics such as gender roles, living with a disability, people of colour, migration and displacement sexual identities play a role in the development process. According to the Federal Statistical Office, a quarter of the population living in Germany has a migrant background. Furthermore, approximately 7.4% of the German population identified as LGBTQ+.

When it comes to production, the checklist will identify whether the cast includes people of colour as well as actors who share the experiences of people from relatively underrepresented population groups in Germany. Furthermore, it is recommended to avoid the use of clichéd role models. Diversity will also need to be considered when hiring crew members. In order to sensitise producers, the latter will have to disclose whether genders are equally represented across the team and whether the crew includes people of colour, people with disabilities or people with experience of migration. Another key question will be whether the employees have opportunities to reconcile work and family obligations during the production period.

Distributors who are applying for support will also need to consider several issues. The questions include whether an accessible version of the film with audio description and a subtitled version for the hearing-impaired is available. Last but not least, distributors will need to check if any marketing tools are used to appeal to a diverse, multicultural and inclusive society, and what the percentage of prints made accessible in rural areas is.

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