Locarno Festival Commits to Pledge for Gender Parity and Inclusion

Ursula Meier - H 2018
Courtesy of Cannes film festival

The Swiss event will be the first A-list festival after Cannes to sign the pledge.

The Locarno Festival has agreed to sign the Programming Pledge for Parity and Inclusion in Cinema Festivals after being introduced to the measure by the Swiss Women's Audiovisual Network (SWAN). 

Locarno will be the first A-list festival after Cannes and the first Swiss fest to sign the pledge, which came out of the French movement 5050x2020 during Cannes in May. 

The pledge will be signed by Locarno president Marco Solari and vice president Carla Speziali on Sunday at a special ceremony along with SWAN co-presidents Gabriel Baur, Laura Kaehr and Stephane Mitchell, Swiss Director of Federal Office of Culture Isabelle Chassot and SWAN Advisory Council members director Ursula Meier and producer Pauline Gygax. 

The pledge covers three main goals: It agrees to compiling submission statistics according to gender and to providing SWAN with reliable data; it agrees to disclosing the list of selection committee members and programmers, with the goal being to eliminate any suspicion of a lack of diversity while allowing festivals full editorial and strategic choices; and it commits to a transformation schedule to reach parity in executive leadership of festivals at the earliest opportunity. 

The pledge also allows for SWAN to produce an annual progress report. 

The signing by Locarno is a huge achievement for the pledge and should bring on board many more European festivals. 

To date, Venice Film Festival head Alberto Barbera has said he does not plan to make any changes with the the Italian showcase for awards hopefuls, which in recent years has received scrutiny for the number of female filmmakers it has featured. But Barbera has made his own calls to gather more statistics. Along with the Berlinale, Venice would be the other top-tier Euro fest yet to sign onto the pledge. 

The 71st Locarno Festival is set to run Wednesday through Aug. 11.