Sweden to Require Sexual Conduct Education for Companies Applying for Film Subsidies

Alicia Vikander - Getty - H 2017
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The move by the Swedish Film Institute comes after Alicia Vikander joined nearly 600 Swedish actresses to condemn harassment and sexual abuse in the industry.

The Swedish Film Institute (SFI) is looking to become the first public funding body to require production companies to undergo sexual conduct education in order to qualify for film subsidies.

The move, unveiled by SFI head Anna Serner, comes after last week's #MeToo moment where nearly 600 local actresses, including Oscar winner Alicia Vikander, wrote an open letter calling out widespread harassment and abuse in the Swedish industry.

Serner's idea, which still needs to be ratified by the SFI board, would require production companies to attend free educational seminars, likely one or two per year, that would cover issues, such as sexual harassment, gender equality and diversity. Only companies that have attended the workshops will be able to apply for film funding from the public body. If ratified, the policy would go into effect next year.

Writing on her blog, Serner said the #MeToo movement could only truly change the culture "if there are
consequences" and called for zero tolerance of sexual harassment.

The Swedish film industry is a pioneer when it comes to gender issues. Sweden was the first country, in 2012, to target full gender equality when it comes to film funding,  calling for half of all public film funding to go to films directed by women.

That goal was reached already by 2015. Last year, the British Film Institute launched a similar system in the U.K. Sweden also has a "feminist movie ratings" system, in place since 2012, which ranks films based on the Bechdel test, which only gives an A grade to movies that have at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man.

But equality-minded Scandinavia is not immune to the culture of harassment as seen by the Swedish actresses' letter and recent allegations against the ex-CEO of Danish film group Zentropa.

It is unclear whether other European funding bodies will follow Sweden's lead. There are already calls in the U.K. for similar moves and the British Film Institute has said it is looking to draw up a new set of guidelines to address bullying and harassment in the industry.