BUENOS AIRES — Despite recent gains, namely the equality pledge towards 50/50-2020 signed at the Mar del Plata Film Festival on Nov. 12, producer Magalí Nieva, pointed out that no representative from INCAA was present following the apparent resignation of its vice-president Fernando Juan Lima. “We are left without an interlocutor to discuss gender policies at the Institute,” Nieva said.
The audiovisual industry in Argentina has a long way to go if it is to achieve parity by 2020: between 2008 and 2017, only 15% of films shown at the Mar del Plata Film Festival were directed by women. There was a heavy male presence in the jury for the international competition with only 15% of women participating over the same period.
“We work really hard to ensure there are more women in evaluation committees within INCAA,” said Nieva, adding: “We achieved the first all-women panel recently.”
She proposed a number of gender policies, including having a differentiated system of points for women to access finance: “Women often cannot produce three films in five years. Our ladder is much harder than men’s.”
Other proposals are: Giving incentives to productions employing at least 50% women in artistic and technical roles; and having special annual calls for projects led by women in directing, editing and writing roles.
“Our stories are different,” said Nieva. “We need female juries. We need to invent new spaces as well. We need to work within our institutions, in festivals, in our associations.”
It is an uphill task, as only 10% of audiovisual institutions are led by women. Nieva called on all women in the audiovisual industry to create gender equality commissions within their unions and places of work.
Julia Zárate, from Audiovisual Women (MUA) explained that while half of all students leaving universities with audiovisual degrees are women, only one in four professionals working today is female. She said that 50/50 was not only about labour parity, access to finance or to decision-making bodies, it was also being aware about the context in which women work, which currently boasts a drastic reduction in investment in the sector and dismantling of programmers supporting independent cinema, preventing a multiplicity of voices.
In order to contribute to the goal of 50/50 2020, MUA is launching an online platform for women to connect, exhibit their work and find job opportunities.
“The one thing that produces inequality is lack of work opportunities,” according to Zárate, “That’s where the most profound inequalities lie. It takes away our freedom to choose.”
There are no official statistics for large periods that give a complete picture of the situation of women in the industry over time. The MUA platform aims to host all women working in the industry countrywide, and to provide hard data on women and their needs.
“It will give any bill on gender equality in the audiovisual industry a scientific foundation, with real data. This is a change in paradigm, not a fad,” said Zárate.
In Bariloche, MuMA, the Patagonian branch of MUA devised a test for the local Festival based on the Bechdel and Mako Mori tests but also asking if there are dissident gendered or trans people in the films who do not die. Very few films pass the test.
From the audience, Rosario Palma, a MuMA activist in Bariloche, Patagonia, said, “We find a clear relation between how we are represented as women and if these narratives are constructed by women, men or dissident gendered people. We need more miradas – ways of looking – because if we don’t, we’ll continue reproducing the violence that makes girls die, that prevent us from accessing those spheres of power, where narratives are made.”
The final speaker, Angeles Anchou, from the INCAA program Gafas Violetas, explained that in the recent National Women’s Encounter in Chubut, the program was able to bring three female directors and six films by women to local cinemas in Trelew. A challenge for 2019 is for the Gafas Violetas program to be shown in commercial cinemas.
Julia Zárate closed the proceedings by saying, “We can also make films about zombies and war, and anything we like, not just stories about women.
She went on: “We are feminists making films and we can do whatever we want. But to sustain this, we need common agendas, demanding in our workplaces that agreements are signed and producers commit themselves to supporting these policies. In any case, we will achieve this sooner or later.”