TV & Movies

French Female Filmmakers Gained Ground in 2020, Says Frances National Film Board

French female directors, crew members and film executives have gained ground in the last year, according to France’s National Film Board. The org said on Tuesday that a third of French film productions received a bonus subsidy for hiring female directors, cinematographers and/or heads of production in 2020 and 2021. The proportion grew from 2019 when only 25% of projects benefited from the subsidy.

Two of the films were Julia Ducournau’s “Titane” and Audrey Titane’s “Happening” which won Cannes’ Palme d’Or and Venice’s Golden Lion, respectively.

The scheme, launched at the start of 2019, is a 15% bonus given to productions that hired enough women in key roles, such as director, cinematographer and head of production. This bonus is distributed on top of the subsidy producers receive from the CNC.

Between 2011 and 2020, the number of French films directed by women rose by 5.4% to 59, while the number of movies directed by men dropped by 13%. But the CNC also said that female directors tended to work with smaller budgets (on average $2.5 million) than their male counterparts ($4.3 million).

France’s culture minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin said the scheme will likely be extended to TV productions going forward. She said the CNC will first conduct a study to examine the gender balance in audiovisual content produced in France.

With regards to improving the representation of minorities in film or TV content, France hasn’t been able to unveil hard statistics or create a bonus subsidy like the one launched to encourage gender parity because positive discrimination based on ethnicity is deemed unconstitutional. Instead, a modestly endowed fund called “Images de la diversity” was created in 2007 for projects “that contribute to representing French society as both diverse and united,” said the CNC.

Pap Ndiaye, a well-respected historian and managing director of the Palais de la Porte Dorée, was appointed to lead the fund and has been tapped to come up with concrete proposals to improve the diversity in French-produced content.

The CNC will also inject €250,000 ($283,310) in a new initiative to help disabled people get trained in films and TV productions and help them find employment in fields such as production, distribution and exhibition. A call for projects is being created, with French actor Sandrine Bonnaire overseeing the dedicated selection commission.

Aside from its measures to promote inclusion and gender parity, the CNC also teamed with the org 50/50 Future to launch mandatory workshops for executives in the film, TV and video games industry to prevent sexual misconduct in the workplace and on shoots.

Since January 2021, producers working on films, TV programs, technical industries and video games, have to prove that they have registered for the training in order to be eligible for subsidies. So far, 2,000 professionals have taken part in the workshop. The initiative, whose goal is to train a total of 6,000 professionals by 2023, has raised eyebrows among some professionals who noted that CNC president Dominique Boutonnat has remained in post despite the fact that he is being investigated for an alleged sexual assault on his godson.

Earlier this year, 50/50 Future tapped Hugo Rubini, a high-profile insurance broker who specializes in film and commercial productions, to get leading French insurance companies MAIF and AREAS to set up a clause to protect film productions in case of sexual harassment incidents during filming. As many as 400 productions have subscribed to the clause since its inception on July 1 and there hasn’t been a single case of sexual misconduct reported since then, according to the CNC.

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