The Origins of the Lab

The history of the Lab is linked to Les Arcs European Film Festival’s. It is the result of a partnership that was developed and has grown for five years between the Festival and the Sisley Foundation, and later on with the association Le Deuxième Regard, focusing on women’s position, especially female directors, in the world of cinema. The creation of the Lab in 2017 is the outcome of a path initiated by Les Arcs film festival in 2013 with the creation of the “Les Arcs- Sisley Femmes de cinema” prize.

Les Arcs – Sisley “Femmes de cinema” prize

Since 2013, Les Arcs – Sisley “Femmes de cinema” prize has been awarded during the festival.

Four years ago, while the subject wasn’t under the radar yet, Les Arcs European Film Festival decided, through the creation of this prize, to honour each year a female director especially representative of the independent European cinema.

The purpose of this prize was to raise the awareness of the media, the professionals and the broad audience about the discrimination women still faced in the world of cinema.

It was also a simple method to make the work of a female director known and to encourage the broadcasting of her films.

The first three winners were:

Jasmila Zbanic, Bosnian director, for “Those who can tell no tales” (2013), Lucie Borleteau, French director, for “Fidélio: Alice’s Odyssey“(2014), Malgorzata Szumowska, Polish director, for “Body” (2015).

Jasmila Zbanic
Femme de cinéma 2013

Lucie Borleteau
Femme de cinéma 2014

Malgorzata Szumowska
Femme de cinéma 2015

Iram Haq
Femme de cinéma 2017

With the subject growing bigger and bigger, the team of Les Arcs wanted to take it further in 2016, replacing its traditional focus on a country by a focus on the “Nouvelles femmes de cinéma”.

In 2016, the “Nouvelles femmes de cinéma” were celebrated at Les Arcs.

The programme had four main components:

10 emerging and talented female directors came to present one of their films and talk about it.

A study on the position of the new generation of female directors in the European cinema was initiated by the team of Les Arcs, in partnership with the Sisley d’Ornano Foundation, France Televisions, the CNC and Le Deuxième Regard association, which concluded that a new dynamic was on the rise.

Nouvelles Femmes de cinema study

Two roundtables were organized during the Festival with high-profile personalities:

  • One roundtable as part of our professional events, moderated by Geoffroy Grison, from Le Deuxième Regard association. Public figures from the industry debated the role of public European institutions in supporting female directors. With the participation of: Jessica Hausner, Austrian director and producer (“Lourdes”, “Hôtel”…), Anna Serner, director of the Swedish Film Institute, and Diana Elbaum, Belgian producer (Entre Chien et Loup) also presenting “Boost Camp”, an education programme she initiated, dedicated exclusively to women filmmakers.
  • One roundtable for the broad audience entitled:  “To be a female director or to climb the Everest?”, moderated by Véronique Auger, editor in chief at France 3, with directors Danièle Thompson, Catherine Corsini, Houda Benyamina, Alanté Kayaïté, Florence Ben Sadoun, editor in chief for the cinema column at ELLE magazine, and the president of Sisley Philippe d’Ornano.

And finally the “think tank cafés, organized every morning of the Festival, in partnership with Le Deuxième Regard, based on the “coaching – idea box” method, gathered more than 50 women and men from all the branches of cinema around the matter of gender equality.

…And something occurred during these “think tank cafés”. Each morning, for more than two hours, men and women from all over Europe were attending, representing all the sectors of the industry, from actors/actresses to distributors, technical fields, specialized journalists etc. Each morning, the process was the same: quit acting as it’s the thousandth roundtable on the matter, but instead listen to each other and search for ideas and actions together, to generate change. They were organized into two parts: one for sharing experiences and one to stir the idea box.

Was it the diversity of the profiles participating, their nationalities or their gender that made the discussions so rich? Was it thanks to their rare ability to listen that the speech got liberated? In any case, participants seemed to enjoy it so much, and the outcome ideas were so rich, that the team of Les Arcs, in partnership with Sisley and Le Deuxième Regard, came to the conclusion that it couldn’t end there. This is how we came up with the “Femmes de cinema” Lab.

In 2017, the “Femmes de cinema” Lab is created

If the origin of the Lab is linked to Les Arcs European Film Festival, 2017 is the year of its official creation, and the Lab manages to gain its independence from the Festival. The two are closely linked due to the Lab’s history and its teams, often joined, but its funding, its governance and its operating mode are now independent.