Photo © Pidz
Frédéric Corvez, president of Urban Distribution.
Nathalie Dennes, producer, the Living.
Trine Dyrholm, actress.
Clara Elalouf, director.
Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin, co-founder and C.E.O. of Les Arcs European Film Festival.
Claire La Combe, producer, Maybe Movies.
Xavier Lardoux, cinema director in the CNC.
Céline Sciamma, director.
Eric Vicente, ARP Sélection and head of the distribution/screen department in la Femis.
Annarita Zambrano, director.
Fabienne Silvestre-Bertoncini, co-founder of les Arcs Film festival, responsable of le Lab Femmes de Cinéma, coach.
Geoffroy Grison, scriptwriter, co-president of Le Deuxième Regard.
Lou Bes, journalist for Elle magazine.
Flore Brabant, assistant, le Lab Femmes de cinéma
Guillaume Calop, co-founder and general manager of Les Arcs European Film Festival
Véronique Vatinos, head of celebrities department in Elle magazine.
Across the testimonies
Data. The update of the Lab « Femmes de Cinéma »’s study shows a decrease in the number of female filmmakers’ films in some countries, despite the first intuition that a new generation of women directors was emerging. We have the feeling that things are changing, but data shows the contrary. Should we have to analyze on a longer term?
The lack of confidence. Female filmmakers wait until their project is almost completed to present it. It seems that they set themselves higher standards than male filmmakers, as if they were put to a test. This impacts the development of their career.
A requirement of modesty that has an effect on the films’ budgets. Female filmmakers are expected to be more patient and to demand lower funds. Thus, women directors film budgets amount to 3,3 million euros on average against 4,6 million euros for male directors films. When a female filmmaker asks for a higher budget, she is seen as pretentious.
A female filmmaker starting a big-budget film is under a strong pressure. Patty Jenkins, who directed the “Wonder Woman” film, told that she took a long time before agreeing to direct a blockbuster, because if she was to fail, the failure would have spilled over onto the whole category of women filmmakers who aspire to direct these kinds of films.
The feeling of being less legitimate. Women directors speak less effortlessly than men. They feel that the stories they want to tell are less legitimate than men’s and that the public is less interested. They do not dare to take the risk, but taking risks could be rewarding.
A chauvinist look which persists, well summed up by François Truffaut’s quote “Cinema is the art of getting pretty women to do pretty things”. This sentence was recently reintroduced at the heart of the French cinema industry. The idea that women filmmakers have a “sensitive look” and that they direct films on feminine themes remains. When Agnès Varda received her Honorary Oscar from the hands of Angelina Jolie and Jessica Chastain, she wondered in front of the all astounded public “So, there were no men in this room to pay me homage?”.
Animation is still a very masculine field. There is practically no female director. And even with a male director who is involved on the gender equality issues, it is difficult, even impossible, to hire teams respecting parity (particularly regarding the managing positions) because of the very small number of women in this field.
Difficulty to criticize a patriarchal system that has built the female directors. Women filmmakers are uncomfortable with the idea of criticizing the cinematic industry system to make things change. They feel that they are complaining and that interlocutors feel threatened when they do so. And this creates a bad atmosphere is the cinematographic field.
A far lower salary than male director’s. Female filmmakers are payed 34% less than men. At the same time, this leads them to not have a passive behavior anymore. On the contrary, it leads them to have a combative behavior and to become demanding and ambitious.
The problem of visibility. In a system in which most of the festivals and theaters are managed by 50-year-old and older heterosexual white men, it is difficult to make some films existing and circulating. Our look is conditioned. It must be diversified and the identity of the managers has to change.
A glamorization of female filmmakers. The women directors who are selected for the competition in Cannes Film Festival are most of the time also actresses. Thus, the political aspect they can claim is hidden behind an aesthetic aspect.
On the other hand, many women are in management posts in the cinema and audiovisual fields. Nathalie Cieutat programs the biggest theaters chain (Gaumont Pathé), Nathalie Costes-Cerdan directs La Femis school of cinema, Véronique Cayla directs Arte, Delphine Ernotte France television. There are changes.
Parity in public commissions. These commissions will imperatively be equal in 2018, it is written in the French law. In the CNC, the advance on earnings commissions already respect parity for years. And the president is a woman.
Questioning. Will the new sources of funding and diffusion platforms enable a diversification in film direction?
« Female filmmakers are payed 34% less than men. And we assimilate it like good pupils. »
« In the way we exist, we have to politicize our presence. It is our individual and collective responsibility. »
« We won’t earn success in anything as long as we can’t cross the points of view. »
« Create complex characters is a way to see women differently. It is a way to be woman and a way to be man. »
« I have a lot of women and men filmmaker friends. Legitimacy is a problem that is never mentioned in men’s conversations. »
« To walk on the red carpet, you have to be pretty. »
Photo © Pidz
Photo © Pidz
The idea box
- Create conventions of equality
- Create networking tools specifically for women.
- Men have a key role to play and an awareness to raise. We need more feminist men to speak on this topic.
- Integrate the diversity theme in collective bargaining agreements.
- Publish gendered statistics on films shown in cinemas.
- Invest more time and money in the writing and film development phase, in which women are more present.
- Establish a bonus system to favour parity in film crews (ex: the scoring scale in COSIP – Account in Support of the Audiovisual Programmes Industry)
- Parity in the selection committees of the festivals.
- Push the festivals receiving public funds to take into account the presence of women in their selection.
- Limit the number of mandates of the festival artistic directors and suggest the men and women alternation in the renewal.
- Implicate more strenuously journalists so that they can showcase the work of women directors.
- Parity in the recruitment of students and also professors in schools. Our teachers inspire us.
- Invite psychologists and sociologists in the workshops of le Lab Femmes de Cinema.
- Better finance the associations that work on the topic and support other structures to create and engage.
*For your consideration: confidentiality and publication rules of the Lab:
We use the Chatham House rule, from the famous British think tank.
This rule is used in order to regulate the confidentiality of the information exchanged during a meeting. The principle is the following: when there is a meeting under the Chatham House rule, the participants are free to use the information they collected on this occasion, but they’re not allowed to reveal the identities or affiliation of the source of that information. This allows a greater freedom of speech and stronger stances.
The list of the participants to the workshops is nonetheless public, in order to highlight the diversity and the quality of the attendees, and to give value to the ideas produced.