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Berlin: Powering up women

Network aims to get more femmes in the biz

A new European organization for women working in the film industry launches in Berlin today.

The European Women’s Audiovisual Network, headed by Spanish director Isabel Coixet, whose “Yesterday Never Ends” is playing in the Panorama Special section, aims to create more opportunities for female directors, crew and specialists across the creative industries, including film, television, games and online media.

It’s particularly keen to bring on more femme directors, particularly in features, and up the overall representation of women in the industry.

Coixet said she had experienced difficulties raising money for her films and felt strongly that it was related to her gender.

“Every time I teach in a film school I face the same challenge: how to teach girls to believe they really can be film directors, when I know it is going to be much more difficult for them then for boys,” Coixet said. “I always use a very graphic example: the film industry is like a rocky mountain; boys climb with boots and sticks, girls must climb naked except for a pair of really high heels and suitcase full of stones.”

The cultural dismissal of women was so ingrained that many people, including some women, did not see it as a problem, she added.

“We need female superheroes; big budgets; the right to be bitchy if we feel like it and to stop apologizing for being bitchy; and an alert audience who, if they are not watching films directed by women, are missing the point of view of the other half of ‘mankind.’ ”

The EWA also wants national film funds and European institutions to gather more gender-specific information, which currently only a handful of film institutions collect.

Francine Hetherington Raveney, Strasbourg-based general coordinator, said: “There are no pan-European studies on women in this industry; the data is just not available.”

Hetherington Raveney took a sabbatical from Eurimages, where she was a coproduction project analyst, to work with EWA.

She is working with universities including London’s Birkbeck, Spain’s Zaragoza and the Stockholm Academy of Arts, to set up research projects into how female directors can overcome obstacles to raising coin for their films.

EWA was initially founded with the backing of Spanish government money and ICAA, the Spanish film fund 2010; Hetherington Raveney came on board to broaden its scope across the 47 countries that are members of the Council of Europe.

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