Whilst the film industry has certainly come on leaps and bounds in terms of gender equality since the end of the 20th century, it is clear that there is still a long way to go as detailed in a report from the Venice film festival.
The “Annual Seminar on Gender Equality and Inclusivity in the Film Industry” is the third time the event has taken place at the Venice Film Festival, with the meeting taking a closer look into the gap of gender equality in the industry. “Aiming for 50:50 by 2020” was the slogan from a Council of Europe target on gender equality in the film sector, and was the figure of much criticism from the meeting that proved his goal had not been reached.
“20:20 by 2050,” was the response of one panellist during the event that was punctuated by a moving speech by the first female film director from Afghanistan, Sahraa Karimi, who recently fled the country after the return of Taliban rule. “I’m not a victim. I’m a fighter. They said, ‘Just stay at home and we will call you.’ I didn’t. I came out,” reported Karimi. Continuing, she noted, “You know what they called me at the end?” making reference to the names the Taliban called women’s marches, “‘She is a prostitute who pursues the Western agenda in Afghanistan.’ I took years of my life to develop film policy for Afghanistan”.
“There were many struggles. When they say you cannot and you show you can do more than they think, it makes them unhappy. They say, ‘She is a woman. She cannot face corruption. She cannot. She cannot. She cannot.’ Everyone looked at me like a piece of meat they should have sexually harassed,” she concluded.
At the 78th edition of the Venice film festival, from over 3,500 submissions, 29% were from women and 69% from men. The board were also presented with a statistic from 2012 that showed 93% (€20.2 million) of funding from the Council of Europe went to male directors whilst only €1.5 million Euro going to female directors. This did improve, however, in 2020 where 64% (€14.2 million) of funding went to male directors compared with the €7.2 million that went to female filmmakers.
Take a look at Sahraa Karimi moving speech below, and to read more of our features on the need for egalitarianism in art, click here: