Gender equality and inclusiveness take center stage at this year’s Venice Production Bridge

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– VENICE 2021: Update on the state of play over the past 12 months has shown that progress has been made, but that there is still a long way to go to achieve true equality

On September 7, the Spazio Incontri at the Excelsior Hotel hosted a seminar on gender equality and inclusion in the film industry, as part of this year’s Venice Production Bridge (September 2-7) . The event was organized by The Venice Biennale, Eurimages and Women in Film, Television and Media Italia (WIFTMI).

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The seminar was opened by the President of La Biennale di Venezia Roberto Cicutto, who stressed that the themes of the seminar were more topical than ever, due to the current human rights crisis in Afghanistan. Then, artistic director Alberto Barbera acknowledged that this year’s edition did not take a big step forward in terms of the number of female directors presenting their films, but that the festival’s commitment to gender equality remains one of its top priorities. The floor was then given to the Director of the Council of Europe Office in Venice Luisella Pavan-Woolfe, who gave a brief overview of the consequences of the pandemic and underlined that the Council of Europe’s objective of supporting gender equality is pursued by a number of legislative provisions. She also touched on the issue of representation, and the body’s commitment to fighting stereotypes and sexism and protecting multiple identities, among others. Under-Secretary of State of the Italian Ministry of Culture Lucie Borgonzoni (who attended virtually) pointed out that beyond setting up reward mechanisms, women had to fight their fear of “always proving their skills” in a male-dominated industry and of “dealing with critics ”for having made, for example, films without commitment. She also argued that teaching children about great women in history is a necessary step in promoting equality.

Later, the general manager of La Biennale Andrea Del Mercato invited the next round of speakers to join. During her speech, the Deputy Director General of La Biennale Deborah Rossi has shown that the organization’s executive committee has already achieved a 50/50 balance, and that in many other departments, women even reach around 70%, with the exception of technical roles which are still predominantly occupied by men . Despite balanced juries and accreditation requests, Del Mercato stressed that the problem of equality starts at the level of candidates, which sees around a third of them led by women. Deputy Executive Director of Eurimages Enrico Vannucci illustrated how, although the 50/50 target has not been reached by 2020, the trend is at least moving in the right direction. It showed that the percentage of female directors rewarded by the body increased from 7% to 36% over the years 2012-2020 (from 1.5 to 7.9 M €). Speaking about the next steps for the period 2021-2023, Vannucci said the organization aims to increase the aid intensity for women-led projects to close the funding gap, encourage greater participation women in creative and technical roles and to support initiatives aimed at improving the skills of women. in industry.

Iole Maria Giannattasio presented the professor of the Università Cattolica of Milan Mariagrazia Fanchi, who presented the results of his recent research on gender equality. His case study, based on the analysis of 1,085 films and 13,094 professionals, demonstrates that male professionals in domestic productions and co-productions are predominant, both in highly skilled creative and technical roles, with the exception of the costume designer. and makeup artist. In detail, the roles with the greatest gender gap were music supervision, special effects and cinematographer, where the male presence exceeds 90%. Also, more generally, the gender gap widens as the length of the film increases.

Creative Europe Officer – MEDIA Maria Silvia Gatta introduced Gaia Bussolati, VFX supervisor at EDI Effetti Digitali Italiani, who spoke about her participation in CharactHeR, a project which aims to stimulate the participation of women in the many roles of the audiovisual industry, especially those traditionally occupied by men.

The session was followed by contributions from the president and former producer of Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia Marta Donzelli and Sahraa Karimi, director and former president of Afghan Film. Donzelli spoke about the efforts of the National Film School to achieve equality in the wider context of the Italian film industry. Karimi spoke of the troubled state of her country, and how culture and cinema have not been on the political agenda for the last twenty years: “They have invested in everything but have not built a single cinema. […] I pushed the government to give money to develop new films for five years. We created the first national film festival and the first national film awards. We have increased the production of fiction films, documentaries, short films, animation and experimental films. We have started to educate the new generations in the cinematographic language. We favored the participation of women in the cinema, which was previously close to zero. After all these efforts, someone in her country called her “a prostitute pursuing the Western agenda in Afghanistan”. “When we talk about these [European, Italian] numbers, I’m very jealous, ”she said, concluding her speech with a call for female directors to make films and create works of art, despite all the challenges.

The event ended with the closing notes from the President of WIFTMI Domizia De Rosa.

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