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Gender equality: How would your film or company perform on a self report?

As ever, the Nordics are leading the way with gender equality in film.


I was intrigued to learn about how the Danish Film Institute is partnering with the Danish Producers Association there to launch a ‘self-report form’ for production companies. You can find more info here.


We all know we can’t fix a problem until we have the right data to see the starting point. It’s about awareness of what’s going on that help us see what needs to change.

The self-report form was introduced as an optional form starting in October, and will first be tested on DFI-funded feature films. Based on the results from the test run, the self-report form will be introduced as a requirement for all DFI-funded projects, starting 1 January 2020.


Even if it just means a producer sits down and thinks about the gender split on their production’s cast and crew for just a few minutes, I think that’s an eye-opening few minutes.


The idea came from one of Denmark’s leading producers, Meta Louise Foldager, Lars von Trier’s former producer, who now runs her own company Meta Film. Two years ago, Foldager introduced statistics about the gender balance of her productions in terms of the crew, dialogue and salaries, and was surprised by her own blind spots.

"I thought I was going to be a pioneer in this field and was shocked to discover that I was actually below average in several respects, including the balance of male and female directors and writers, and the distribution of dialogue and bit parts in my own productions," Foldager told the DFI. "That moved me to change things, in my own house.”


Over in Iceland, film and TV production company Sagafilm becomes the first company to win the country’s Motivational Award for Gender Equality; it marks the first time that a media company has won the prize (previous winners include Vodafone, for instance).

The jury said, “Sagafilm operates in an industry where men have been more dominant and therefore it is crucial to have the determination to change it. Conscious decisions have been made to promote female directors and scriptwriters. Decisions which affect the company's production, where it can be clearly seen that the gender gap has minimized. The stories that are told reflect this reality better than before.”


Sagafilm recently produced the TV series Stella Blómkvist (pictured below), which features a strong female lead, and the company’s new series The Flatey Enigma (which will be previewed at Content London this week) also has a strong female protagonist.




It’s not the first time Sagafilm has been recognised for their equality measures – as you probably already read, the new Equal Pay Certification law in Iceland came into effect earlier this year and Sagafilm was the first film/TV company to get its equal pay certificate.


Iceland has a lot to celebrate in this regard -- Iceland elected the world’s first democratically directly elected female president way back in 1980; the country still comes top in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index. Let’s salute these strong Viking women (and the strong Viking men who are treating them as equals).


And at the EFAs in December, I will be once again be hosting a talk with that gender equality rock star, Anna Serner of the Swedish Film Institute.

Wendy Mitchell is a film and entertainment journalist, film festival consultant, and panel and Q&A moderator.