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Australian Directors Guild Proposes 50-50 Quotas at Screen Australia for Women Filmmakers

Australian Directors Guild Proposes 50-50 Quotas at Screen Australia for Women Filmmakers

Last year, the Swedish Film Institute reached 50-50 gender parity in its funding distribution between male and female helmers.  

Some in Australia, including noted filmmaker Gillian Armstrong, are hoping that the land down under can follow in the Scandinavian nation’s footsteps. The Australian Directors Guild has proposed that Screen Australia institute a gender-equal quota system for directors, writers and producers in that country.

Formed in 2008, Screen Australia describes itself as “the federal government’s primary agency for supporting Australian screen production.” 

Calling the film industry’s sexism “ridiculous,” Armstrong noted, “It’s been 30 years since Jane Campion and I went through a glass ceiling and I feel there haven’t been enough people following us.” She continued, “There has to be positive action because it’s just so obvious there are just as many talented young women coming out of film schools, winning short films awards, yet there’s still not the same numbers up there directing dramas, being selected for Cannes and so on.”

The “My Brilliant Career,” “Starstruck” and “Little Women” director also observed that 80% of Swedish films selected for this year’s TIFF were helmed by women. “It just made people think, well, when we’re deciding on the director, maybe we’ll have a look at the list of young women as well as men.”

Women directors have a much better track record in Australia. Five female-helmed films — Jennifer Kent’s “The Babadook,” Kate Woods’ “Looking for Alibrandi,” Elissa Down’s “The Black Balloon,” Sarah Watt’s “Look Both Ways” and Cate Shortland’s “Somersault” — have won the Best Film and Best Director prizes in the Australian Film Institute and Academy Awards, that country’s most prestigious awards ceremonies. 

Yet the number of women Aussie filmmakers remain low. 

“Nothing has changed: that’s the problem. The imbalance is so huge,” Australian Guild Director executive director Kingston Anderson said. “We all felt that unless we pushed a hard agenda, nothing would change,” 

[via Sydney Morning Herald]

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