Presence of Female Directors Still Lacking in Film Festivals Around the World

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Why are film festivals still so dominated by men?

With the start of the Venice Film Festival and Toronto Film Festival, the discussion of film selections is back in the news. Earlier in the year, the Venice Film Festival took criticism for scheduling only two female-directed films out of twenty-one films in main competition.

The argument, coming from Venice, as well as Cannes earlier in the year, is that if the quality of the work is not there, then they will not showcase it. Venice director Alberto Barbera said he was offended by the idea of it.

“If I had found fifty percent of films directed by women to include in competition, I would have done it, without the need to introduce quotas.”

However, organizers at the Toronto Film Festival feel this is simply a lazy excuse from people who are not trying hard enough to include female-directed films in their competitions. Kiva Reardon, programmer for TIFF’s Contemporary World Cinema (CWC) says, “It suggests that the word ‘quality' or even ‘best’ is objective, and not something that’s been created over a long time, through the way that the film cannon has been shaped which predominantly has been by white, European men and their tastes.”

So, what's the solution? Perhaps it is simply a matter of "quality" over quantity. But it is widely known that women are not given the same opportunities in film as their male counterparts. Training, funding, producers, production companies--all of these things help make the "quality" of a film. Yet these things are harder to obtain for women starting out, as well as seasoned veterans.

On the other hand, women don't submit as much as men. Is this because women aren't making films? I think we can agree that's not the case. Are women afraid of rejection? Or perhaps have been led to believe that their films lack the "quality" of their male peers.

Whatever the case, it is a subject worth discussing. We can look forward to a future that examines problems such as this lingering in the film world as those searching for solutions are working tirelessly in the background.

Send in those films, ladies.