French Industry Group Launches Push for Gender Equality by 2020

Getty Images
Lea Seydoux

Lea Seydoux, Clemence Poesy, Jacques Audiard and Robin Campillo are among the high-profile players who have signed on.

A group of French film industry professionals have launched "50/50 by 2020," a new initiative aimed at gaining gender parity in film jobs.

Under the auspices of the group called Deuxieme Regard, or Second Look, the initiative is supported by 300 industry players, including actresses Lea Seydoux, Clemence Poesy, Adele Haenel and Celine Salette.

High-profile directors Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain, Bertrand Bonello, Thomas Cailley and Robin Campillo also have signed on, as have Houda Benyamina, Valerie Donzelli, Julie Ducournau and Rebecca Zlotowski.

On the heels of the #MeToo and Time's Up initiatives, the signatories said they were seeking a way to “turn a moment into a movement.”

“While French cinema has not been shaken by the shock wave of the Weinstein case, it seems essential to us to advance on concrete measures, which go beyond the subject of sexual violence," the group said. "We believe that parity reduces the abuse of power. … We believe that we must seize this opportunity to work for equality and diversity.”

Both the U.K.’s BFI and Sweden’s SFI have put in place strategies for funding parity, with the goals of half of public funding for films going to women by 2020.

While Second Look was created in 2013 with the support of National Cinema Center president Frederique Bredin and a charter signed by then culture minister Aurelie Filippetti and then women’s rights minister Najat Vallat-Belkacem, it is not a funding body and will instead push industry groups to create change from within their ranks.

It is not only high-profile industry jobs that will be in the group's sights, but festivals, juries and film schools will also be lobbied from the organization that bills itself an “action tank.”

Second Look will also produce a wave of in-depth reports in the coming year, looking at wage disparity and lack of diversity in film and TV.

In its first round of reports, the group showed that while wage disparity between men and women in the French industry is uniform across the board, it hits women directors the hardest, with female helmers making 40 percent less than their male counterparts. Actresses take home 9 percent less than their male co-stars.

Only script supervising makes more for women, with wages coming in at 9 percent higher, but that’s largely because they occupy most of the slots. Women hold 96 percent of the script supervising jobs in France, according to the study, but sit in the director’s chair just 24 percent of the time. Those numbers are highest in the documentary category, where 29 percent of directors are female, and lowest in animation, where they helm just 4 percent of cartoon projects.

The budgets for female-directed films also tend to be about 36 percent lower overall, with the majority topping out at the €2 million ($2.4 million) mark.

Ahead of Friday’s Cesar Awards, the group also published a comprehensive study of the French Academy, noting that only one woman has ever won the best director Cesar (Tonie Marshall for 2000's Venus Beauty Institute) and that female nominees have made up only 19 percent of nominations in all categories over a period of 42 years.