The BFI London Film Festival has teamed with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (GDI) and Women in Film and Television (WFTV) for the Institute’s first Global Symposium on Gender in Media outside the US on October 8, the day after the festival opens with Sarah Gavron’s awards hopeful “Suffragette.”
Geena Davis present the opening keynote speech at the inaugural Global Symposium. “Media images have a huge impact on our perceptions, and on our social and cultural beliefs and behaviors,” said Davis. “Our new global study, explores how global films may be reinforcing negative gender stereotypes with movie audiences of all ages.”
The Institute is among Hollywood’s only organizations working to create gender parity, reduce stereotypes and increase visibility of rich female characterizations onscreen. The Global Symposium will present her new research, with further investigates the representation of women for audiences in the UK, India, Nigeria, France and Brazil.
Davis has not just played strong women onscreen, but helped created them. Her studies have offered actual tangible impetus for change. She wrote, for example, in The Hollywood Reporter last year that the ratio of male to female characters, according to one of the Institute’s studies, has stayed the same since 1946. So her suggestion to screenwriters was to change several of the characters’ first names to women’s names.
“With one stroke you’ve created some colorful unstereotypical female characters that might turn out to be even more interesting now that they’ve had a gender switch.” She also said that when setting up a crowd scene, screenwriters should simply write, “A crowd gathers, which is half female.”