ROME — Gender inequality plagues Europe’s film industry on a comparable scale with Hollywood, according to a report released today by the European Women’s Audiovisual Network, a Strasbourg-based organization that champions women working in the entertainment industry.
Titled “Where Are the Women Directors?,” the study conducted across seven countries — including the U.K., France and Italy — found that a mere 21% of feature films produced in these European territories were directed by women. “This means four out five films are NOT directed by a woman,” it underscored.
Interestingly, the perception of this problem differed greatly in different parts of Europe.
In the U.K., 94% of respondents “felt that gender inequality exists,” said the study, which called the percentage “one of the highest results from the seven nations in the study.”
Although no national registry of directors is available in Britain, the report estimated that 12% of British indie pics are directed by females while that percentage estimate rises to roughly 22% for more commercial feature films.
By contrast, just 30% of female respondents and 37% of males surveyed in France “felt that there was gender inequality” in the French film business, one of the lowest results among the seven countries surveyed in the study. “The figures appear to be indicative of a relative lack of awareness concerning gender discrimination,” the study noted.
Accordingly, extensive research in France — where there is also no official registry of directors — showed that between 2009 and 2012 the number of female French directors rose from below 20% to 28.6%. Still, the percentage of female directors who received national film funding in France remained way lower than their male counterparts, with an average ratio of 80% male and 20% female.
In Italy that ratio is 89% male and 11% across all national film funding programs that provide coin for both feature films and docs.
The European Women’s Audiovisual Network study also found that across the seven surveyed European countries, 84% of funding resources go into male-directed films. “Low funding perpetuates the scarcity of female-directed films in circulation, in turn affecting the markets’ willingness to invest and thus creating a vicious circle,” it said.
It also pointed out “a significant difference” between the 44% ratio of female directors graduating from European film schools and the overall 24% ratio of female directors working in the industry. “That talent exists, but the potential is not exploited,” it underscored.
According to the most recent figures on females underrepresented behind the camera compiled by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media in the U.S., only 7% of directors, 13% of writers and 20% of producers are female, based on a sample of 1,565 American content creators.