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Venice Film Festival Set to Sign Gender-Parity Protocol (EXCLUSIVE)

The Venice Film Festival’s parent organization, the Venice Biennale, is set to sign the same protocol on gender parity that the Cannes, Locarno and Sarajevo festivals have recently agreed to.

Initiated at Cannes by French organization 5050×2020, the protocol involves pledges to practices that Venice officials say are already in place at their event: issuing statistics on the number of films submitted; being transparent about the members of the selection and programming committees; and reaching an even gender ratio in the organization’s top management.

The pledge is to be signed at a news conference Friday together with Italian organizations Dissenso Comune and Women in Film, TV & Media Italia. The agreement follows what the two organizations say have been friendly and constructive discussions that were protracted in part because the Biennale is a multidisciplinary organization extending to other arts beyond film, such as architecture and dance. The protocol that the Biennale will sign is expected to apply to those sectors also.

The Venice pledge — which, like those signed by Cannes, Locarno and Sarajevo, does not involve mandatory quotas — is expected to have slightly different wording stating that the Biennale “will continue to” practice the policies contained in the protocol, in recognition that the organization already has such policies in place.

Venice is also expected to announce that, starting next year, they will hold a panel at the film festival on gender equality, based on statistics they will gather to gain a full picture of the situation.

Festival artistic director Alberto Barbera has come under fire for selecting just one film by a female director for the 21-title official competition lineup for the second consecutive year. This year’s lone competition film by a woman is Australian director Jennifer Kent’s period thriller, “The Nightingale.” Overall, entries directed by women account for about 20% of Venice’s official selection, including the main competition and the sidebars, which is roughly the same percentage as the submissions made by female directors. 

Barbera and Biennale chief Paolo Baratta have vehemently ruled out quotas.

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