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For the European film industry, gender parity is still a long way off. Despite pledges by festivals, funding bodies and industry associations to work to narrow the gender gap, fewer than one in four working directors in Europe are female, a new industry report has found.
A survey of crews that worked on European feature films produced and released in Europe between 2016 and 2020 found that women “only represented 23 percent” of all directors. Behind the camera, women accounted for slightly more than a third (33 percent) of working producers and just under a third (27 percent) of screenwriters, the study, published Tuesday by the European Audiovisual Observatory (EAO), shows.
The gender gap was most pronounced among cinematographers and film composers, where women make up only 9 percent and 10 percent, respectively, of active professionals. Even on screen, there is a significant imbalance, with the EAO finding that women account for 39 percent of lead roles in European films over the five-year period.
The presence of female directors was higher for documentary films, where women accounted for 29 percent of helmers, compared to a mere 19 percent for live-action fiction films and 16 percent for animated features.
Given the very public efforts in Europe to achieve 50/50 parity among filmmakers, the report’s figures are sobering and should give ammunition to those calling for more activist measures, including gender quotas for film financing.
Many of the most acclaimed European films of 2021 were female-driven, including Julia Ducournau’s Palme d’Or winner Titane, Maria Schrader’s German Oscar contender I’m Your Man and Audrey Diwan’s abortion drama Happening, which won the Golden Lion for best film at the Venice Film Festival. Quo Vadis, Aida?, a female-focused look at the Srebrenica massacre from Bosnia director Jasmila Zbanic, won the best film, best director and best actress honors (for star Jasna Djuricic) at the 2021 European Film Awards.
Many major European film festivals have also signed up for gender parity pledges, promising to try to achieve a 50/50 balance between male and female directors for films in their official selections.
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