Spanish Film Industry Embraces Gender Parity Pledge

San Sebastian Film Festival - curtain raiser - Publicity-H 2018
Courtesy of Festival de San Sebastian/Montse Castillo

The San Sebastian International Film Festival event coincided with a published study showing men represented 76 percent of the Spanish film sector in 2017.

Waving red fans and flashing big smiles, members of the Spanish film industry turned out in droves to witness the San Sebastian International Film Festival’s signing of the Charter for Parity and Inclusion of Women.

Men represented 76 percent of the Spanish film industry and women only 24 percent in 2017, according to a study made public at Sunday’s event by CIMA, the Spanish association of women filmmakers. The reporter showed an overwhelming domination of men throughout the film sector in Spain, with the exception of wardrobe — where women make up 86 percent — and hair and makeup with 72 percent.

Women held only 12 percent of the roles of director, a figure that dropped to 9 percent if documentaries are excluded.

"Equality between men and women is the epicenter and the most powerful weapon of democracy,” said Spanish Vice President Carmen Calvo, who was in town for the event. “Film is a powerful weapon. It is a space where life is told, but also where life is displayed. That is why when women find greater difficulties to access it, really real subjects are not handled. Without us, there is no democracy, and with us democracy improves.”

The Cannes, Toronto, Venice and Locarno fests have already committed to the historic pledge, which came out of the French movement 5050/2020 in May at Cannes.

In addition to festival director Jose Luis Rebordinos and CIMA president Cristina Andreu, who signed the pledge, culture minister Jose Guirao, Spanish Film Academy president Mariano Barroso, film directors Chus Gutierrez, Patricia Ferreira, Azucena Rodriguez and Virginia Yague and producer Esther Garcia were among the many personalities that packed the press conference in the Kursaal Auditorium.

“It is clear that the measures taken until now have not had effect,” Andreu said. “We have a detailed study and have proposed some measures, like calling for subsidies just for women and raising the amount of money one can receive in public aid if the project is led by a woman.”

The initiative calls on the festival to compile statistics by gender, regarding both the number of films received for the selection and those chosen and programed in order to obtain reliable data about projects headed by women.

San Sebastian also pledged to publish a list of members of its selection committee and programmers, as well as establish a calendar outlining changes to the festival’s executive bodies to achieve gender parity within the current period of mandate of those bodies.