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How the Major Film Festivals Are Faring on Gender Parity

The world’s top-tier film festivals congratulated themselves last year when, one by one, they signed a pledge on gender parity drawn up by the French women’s organization 5050×2020. The protocol commits the fests to greater transparency about the number of films submitted and the makeup of their selection and programming committees, and calls for an even gender split in senior management ranks.

Since Cannes became the first to sign in May 2018, both Toronto and Berlin have named women as festival co-directors for the first time in their history: Joana Vicente and Mariette Rissenbeek, respectively.

But when it comes to the hot-button issue of female-directed films chosen to compete for the big prizes, progress has been uneven at best. Parity is a rarity. The pledge does not demand gender-based quotas for the festivals’ official lineups — a move that the chiefs of Cannes and Venice have in any case explicitly rejected.

With the lineups having been revealed for Toronto and Venice, here’s a report card on how female filmmakers have fared at the elite festivals. (Spoiler: Only Sundance has managed to achieve or exceed parity for women, a feat it first attained in 2013, while Venice remains worst in class for at least the second year in a row.)

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