Soft-quotas : If two applications are identical in quality the selection committee would privilege the one with a female director

The Wallon Centre, in Belgium, is a pioneering institute concerning the adoption of hierarchical policies as it has implemented a series of soft quotas at the stage of “advance on recoupment” funding. The aim is to privilege films directed by women, when the applying projects are of equal quality. There is however no particular objective in terms of the proportion of films directed by women.

In Norway, with the aim of arriving at 50% funding applications coming from women, the Norway Film Institute decided to incentivise women to apply for funding through a privileging of their projects, which are given priority in the evaluation period.


Implementation of evaluation and selection criteria that reflect the degree to which a dossier contributes to diversity

Among the privileging policies we included policies of evaluation that are used in many countries. These generally require the directors applying for institutional funding to indicate the distribution of key roles, in front and behind the camera, of the projects they are defending.

In Spain article 25 of the Ley del Ciné states that the commissions that award funding must take into consideration, at the moment of their decision making, not only the quality of the project, its commercial viability and the financial stability of the production company, but also gender equality among the director and screenwriter(s). A decree has just been added to this law that defines the proportions of gender distribution of roles that the committees are obliged to take into consideration at the moment of their decision making.

They implemented a first grading scale to deal with automatic support, attributed according to a score out of 100 that a film obtains following a certain number of criteria. Among the criteria of “socio-economic impact” we find the following: female director (1 point), female screenwriter (1 point), female executive producer (1 point), further female creatives (0.5 points), female head of department (0.5 points), for a total of 4 points out of 100. This shows that the presence of women in key positions in a film has a 4% impact on the choice of films funded through automatic support.

A second grading scale concerned selective funding bodies. While the final decision about the awarding of these funds is indeed left to the criteria of a committee that has examined the artistic and financial coherence of a project, only those films that have received a certain number of points in this grading scale pass the first stage of “natural selection” and are submitted to the committee. This grading scale has a total of 71 points, and, using the same points system as the previous grading scale, the presence of women in the crew of a film can add up to 4 points, meaning that women in key posts have an impact of 5.6% on whether the film passes the first step of evaluation for these selective funds.

In Italy a similar law governing films, approved at the end of 2016, brought about some changes in the awarding of state funding. There is, however, a system of points attributed to projects where the creative team is principally composed of women, especially if a female director is attached. In this case 15 points (maximum) can be awarded to the project. As in Spain there is a grading scale for selective funding and a grading scale for automatic support.

As of January 2017 the Netherlands also implemented a system of selection criteria for funding. When a project applies for funding the committee evaluates not only the quality of the project but also its potential contribution to diversity, in order to ascertain whether it should qualify for support or not. This measure is not applied to gender equality but also more generally to diversity (age, gender, culture, disability).

The situation is similar in the UK where films applying for funding from the British Film Institute must apply norms of diversity (in terms of gender, ethnicity, age etc, both in front of the camera, behind the camera and in terms of target audience). In practice the directors have to show that their project fulfils at least two the three following criteria: opportunities for interns to progress in their careers, at least two heads of department from a socially diverse group, and at least 30% of characters positively reflecting diversity.

In the Netherlands and the UK it can be seen how the issue transcends that of gender equality.

In Ireland, as of September 2017, cumulative funding of up to 100,000 euros can be awarded to feature film projects directed by women.

In Poland the new president of the Polish Film Institute, appointed at the end of 2017, has just signed a resolution requiring that projects applying for funding must indicate whether their projects pass the Bechdel Test or not.

In Denmark it was decided to implement measures as of 2018. The film institute is therefore currently working to establish an evaluation system that producers will have to fill in to apply for funding, and in which they would indicate the gender composition of their teams.

We also find, a similar original measure adopted in Austria in 2017, the Gender Incentive. If a project applying for funding has enough women in certain specific head of department positions (production, direction, script, camera, sound…) then a following project is automatically awarded 30,000 euros development. This measure joins a so-called “Bechtel Test” policy which has been in place since 2016.