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Locarno Film Festival Set to Sign Gender Parity Pledge (EXCLUSIVE)

Following the Cannes and Annecy film festivals, Locarno is the latest international fest whose chiefs have agreed to sign a pledge ensuring gender equality and inclusion in programming.

Organized by the Swiss Women’s Audiovisual Network (SWAN), the pledge will be signed by Locarno festival president Marco Solari and Vice President Carla Speziali on Sunday. The film festival begins Wednesday.

The pledge-signing event will be attended by prominent Swiss industry figures and members of SWAN, notably filmmaker Ursula Meier, along with producer Pauline Gygax, and SWAN’s three co-presidents and authors-directors Gabriel Baur, Laura Kaehr, and screenwriter Stephane Mitchell.

“The fact that Locarno Festival signs the pledge, only months after Cannes, is absolutely thrilling. When we approached them with SWAN, the Locarno Festival was immediately open to meeting with us and signing the pledge,” said Kaehr, who will introduce the pledge-signing at the Spazio Cinema in Locarno along with federal office of culture director Isabelle Chassot.

“As one of the three presidents of SWAN and as a filmmaker born in Locarno, this first meeting with the festival was a crucial and exciting moment,” Kaehr added. “Not only the biggest festival in my country was showing enthusiasm and collaboration for SWAN’s cause, but on top of that, I felt proud that my hometown hosts a festival that understands the paramount importance of this pledge, not only for our industry but also for the progress of the culture in our country.”

Initiated at Cannes by 5050×2020, the French sister movement of SWAN, the pledge calls on the festival to issue statistics on the number of films submitted; be transparent about the members of the selection and programming committees in order to prevent any doubt about a lack of diversity or parity, while allowing festivals to make their editorial and strategic choices; set up a timetable of goals to ensure an even gender ratio within the respective terms.

Like Cannes, Locarno is a category A festival, meaning that it boasts a competition lineup. This year’s Locarno roster comprises 19.5% of women directors in the Piazza Grande section (four films from female directors out of 18 films), 16.5% in the international competition (three out of 15 films) and 46.5% in the Cineasti dei Presenti (seven out of 15).

The gender ratio of this year’s edition, which marks the last outing of Carlo Chatrian as artistic director, is significantly better than 2017, especially in the international competition lineup, where only 11% of female-directed movies were included. Chatrian is leaving to join the Berlin Film Festival in 2019.

SWAN was created as a network group for Swiss women in 2016. It brings together 1,300 people coming from all fields in the cinema and audiovisual industry.

The Locarno Film Festival runs from Aug. 1-11.

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