Women Make Up Only 35 Percent of Film Market Decision Makers, Study Finds

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Female filmmakers in Cannes this year walked the red carpet in protest of gender disparity in cinema.

A report by Britain's Birds' Eye View agency reveals the gender gap of attendees at the American Film Market, Cannes' Marche du Film and Berlin's European Film Market.

Women made up just 35 percent of “high-status employees” or decision makers at the world's top film markets in 2018, a new study commissioned by British gender equality organization Birds' Eye View has found.

The report looked at attendance at Cannes' Marche du Film, Berlin's European Film Market and the American Film Market in Santa Monica over a 10-year period from 2009 to 2018.

It divided attendees into three categories: high-status, meaning company CEOs and directors; mid-status, for heads of departments and managers; and low-status employees, including interns, assistants and coordinators.

Women accounted for 64 percent of low-status employees and 51 percent of mid-status employees over the 10-year period, but the top tier showed a sizable gender gap. On average, just 22 percent of high-status attendees to the Cannes, AFM and Berlin markets were female over the time period. In 2018, that figure was 38 percent.

Researcher Stephen Follows compiled the report, tallying up the 48,845 total attendees from Berlin and Cannes from 2009 to 2018, and from the AFM from 2009 to 2017.

Birds’ Eye View head Mia Bays said the conversation about gender inequality at the “coal face” of the film industry, in sales and distribution, was under discussed.

Of the top 18 countries represented at the three markets, Russia and China had the best record in terms of gender parity, with women in high-status roles accounting for 49 and 47 percent, respectively, of executives attending. At the opposite end were Germany (27 percent) and India (24 percent). India also had the highest percentage of men in low-status positions, at 50 percent.

Broken down by subsector, distribution and production companies showed the biggest gender gap at the top, with 71 percent of high-status jobs at distribution firms held by men, and 69 percent of those at production companies. Of the 12 subsectors analyzed in the report, only film commissioners were majority female, with women accounting for 52 percent of high-status employees.

Bird's Eye View is a leading advocate for gender equality in film, focusing on increasing industry investment in the production, marketing and promotion of films by women or gender nonbinary people. The group recently launched its Reclaim the Frame project to support four films by female directors with a limited release in five cities in the U.K. The first two films backed under the initiative were rape retaliation thriller Revenge from French director Coralie Fargeat, and the mother-daughter drama Pin Cushion by Brit director Deborah Haywood.

U.K. industry publication Screen Daily first reported on the Bird's Eye View report.