Berlin: Film Industry Explores Diversity's Challenge, Opportunity

European Film Market, Berlin - H 2018
Courtesy of European Film Market

A series of panels and discussions on issues raised by #MeToo and Time's Up kick off Saturday in Berlin with a panel hosted by The Hollywood Reporter, McKinsey and Company and the European Film Market.

The stars didn't wear black on the opening night of the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival, and organizers didn't switch the red carpet for a black one, as one #MeToo activist had suggested, but the debate about sexual harassment and the need for greater equality in the film industry is in focus at multiple events happening across the city.

On Saturday, from 4-6 p.m. at the Berliner Freiheit on Potsdamer Platz, The Hollywood Reporter, together with McKinsey and the European Film Market, will host a debate on "Why Diversity Matters."

Dame Vivian Hunt, managing partner for McKinsey in London, will present the findings of the group's annual Delivering through Diversity report, which makes the financial case for great gender and racial parity, noting that companies with more diverse workforces outperform their less diverse competitors. Strand Releasing co-president Marcus Hu, who was one of the 25 AMPAS members that signed an open letter in 2016 condemning anti-Asian racism at the Oscars, and Indigo Film's Carlotta Calori, a producer of Oscar winner The Great Beauty and one of the few women in the male-dominated Italian film industry, will join THR's European bureau chief Scott Roxborough to debate the causes, and possible solutions, for the industry's diversity gap. 

On Saturday morning, the Swedish Film Institute, which has achieved a 50/50 balance between female and male directors in its industry, without introducing a quota, will present a case study of how they did it. “Sweden is in some ways a unique case because of its culture, and history of gender equality,” Swedish Film Institute CEO Anna Serner told THR, “but I think what we did is relevant to other countries, because it was done by focusing on quality. We not only increased diversity, we increased box office and award success (for Swedish films).”

Sweden aside, figures published this week by Eurimages, Europe's top public film funding body, show women's participation still falls far short of true gender equality. Only 25 percent of European directors are female, the study found, and female participation in key roles — in front and behind the camera — was just 31 percent last year, compared to 23 percent in 2012.

But Francine Raveney, a project manager specializing in gender equality at Eurimages, said new recommendations on gender equality adopted by the human rights group Council of Europe provide “a road map for change” and that, with the right policies and political will, “greater equality should just be a matter of time.”