A new conference out of Sweden hopes to start a dialogue around creating lasting structural changes across film and TV, uniting leaders such as Sundance director Tabitha Jackson and “Belle” and “A United Kingdom” filmmaker Amma Asante.
Organized by Women in Film & Television International, in association with the Carl International Film Festival, Carla 2020 will convene creatives, researchers, executives, financiers and activists to discuss on and off-screen representation and topics including the mechanisms of power in the industry, racism, unconscious bias, intersectionality, sexual harassment and safety on set.
The virtual festival will run Aug. 21-23. Attendance is free globally, with registration opening in July.
Keynote speakers include Asante and Jackson, as well as broadcaster Mo Abudu of EbonyLife — who recently struck a major deal with Netflix — and Anna Serner, CEO of the Swedish Film Institute. Other speakers include: directors Paul Feig and Julie Taymor, producer Gale Anne Hurd, actresses Yvette Nicole Brown and Shonali Bose and intimacy director Ita O’Brien, among others.
New research will be launched at the conference, while best practices and industry initiatives are also to be discussed. The event will feature virtual and interactive keynotes, panels, roundtables, networking events and workshops.
Helene Granqvist, president of Women in Film & TV International, tells Variety the idea for the festival grew out of a think tank that’s been running in Sweden for three years.
“We saw a clear pattern: there is a lot of knowledge in the academy that never reaches the industry,” says Granqvist. “If we want to have a sustainable industry, we need to talk about diversity and inclusion. You need to see a bigger picture. We can’t continue as we do, because it’s not sustainable.”
While Carla’s initial program was already set to examine pressing issues around race and gender, Granqvist says the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement globally has added “extra fuel” to the event.
“I wouldn’t say I’m bored of talking about gender equality, but for me, the word intersectionality is an important word,” she explains.
While the ambition was to hold a physical event this year in Karlskrona, Sweden, the digital offering has allowed Carla to gather more international figures.
“The Glorias” director Julie Taymor, who recently joined the conference, said of the initiative: “I’m very proud to be a part of Carla 2020 and to add my voice to the extraordinary women who are a part of this initiative in levelling the playing field. ‘The Glorias,’ my forthcoming film based on the life of Gloria Steinem, received its ReFrame stamp at the Sundance Film Festival this past January. It is a film that bridges women across cultures and races with a unifying call to justice, equality and activism.”
Carla will host the launch of Dr. Susan Liddy’s book “Women in the International Film Industry: Policy, Practice and Power.” Contributors from 17 countries will also present their research at the conference, providing a comprehensive analysis of the scale and impact of gender inequality in industries across the world.
Elsewhere, the Swedish Film Institute — which is supporting Carla alongside Eurimages and the Swedish Postcode Foundation — will also present its upcoming research report about racism and ageism in the film industry.
Partners for the festival include Women in Film & TV branches around the world, including the New York, India, Germany, Canada and Italy chapters; Times Up UK; Geena Davis Institute; Sundance Film Festival; Intimacy Directors UK; London Film School; Nordic Film Market/Gothenburg Film Festival; Reframe; Women and Hollywood/The Girl’s Club; Piramide Productions; and Sami Film Institute.
Pictured (L-R): Amma Asante, Mo Abudu, Tabitha Jackson