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7% of films in Icelandic cinemas in 2016 were directed by women: A new Nordic evaluation of gender (in)equality in film screenings

The Icelandic Women’s Rights Association and Stockholm Feminist Film Festival has conducted an evaluation of gender (in)equality in films screened in Icelandic cinemas and on RÚV – the Icelandic Broadcasting Service in 2016.

The evaluation shows that of all the films screened in Icelandic cinemas in 2016 (187 films) :

  • 93% were directed by men
  • 84% of the screenwriters were men
  • 75% of the producers were men
  • 71% of the main characters were men
  • Only 4.5% of the films screened in Icelandic cinemas in 2016 were both directed by a woman and had a woman in a leading role.

The evaluation shows that of all the films screened on RÚV, the Icelandic Broadcasting Service, in 2016 (239 films):

  • 93% were directed by men
  • 31 Icelandic films were screened on RÚV in 2016, only 2 of those films were directed by women

What does it mean for gender equality in our society when the vast majority of the films shown on the big screen tell men’s stories and depict men’s experiences? How can we change the film industry to increase gender equality?

This gender disparity will be the discussion at a panel at Stockfish International Film Festival, this Friday, February 24th at 5 p.m. Joining the discussion are Ása Baldursdóttir programme director of Bíó Paradís, Dögg Mósesdóttir chair of WIFT in Iceland, Hlín Jóhannesdóttir film producer, Margrét Örnólfsdóttir chair of the Icelandic Dramatists Union, Laufey Guðjónsdóttir director of the Icelandic Film Centre, and Þorsteinn Víglundsson the Minister for Equality. Fríða Rós Valdimarsdóttir chair of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association will address the meeting. Brynhildur Björnsdóttir is the moderator.

The panel will be conducted in Icelandic but notes in English will be handed out. FREE ENTRANCE AND OPEN FOR ALL.

The evaluation also looked at films shown in movie theaters in Denmark in 2015 and in movie theaters and on Netflix in Sweden in 2016. Iceland has a significantly worse gender ratio in the cinema than the other two Nordic countries.

Denmark

  • The study included all films shown in Danish cinemas 2015.
  • In 2015, 238 films were shown on cinema in Denmark.
  • 87% were directed by men
  • 84% of all screenwriters were men
  • 74% of all producers were men
  • 69% of the main characters were men
  • 6% of all films had a female main character and was directed by a woman
  • 91% of the total visits to films on cinema was to films with a male director, and 9% to films by a female director

Sweden

  • The study included all films and tv-series premiered on Netflix in Sweden in 2016
  • 96% of films premiered on Netflix were directed by men
  • 87% of the screenwriters of the films on Netflix were men
  • 74% of  the producers of the films on Netflix were men
  • 78% of the main characters of the films on Netflix were men
  • 1.5% of the films on Netflix were both directed by a woman and had a female lead
  • 85% of tv-series premiered on Netflix were directed by men
  • The study included films premiered in movie theaters in Sweden between 1 January 2016 and 1 December 2016
  • 80% were directed by men
  • 90% of the total visits to films in movie theaters was to films with a male director
  • 74% of all screenwriters were men
  • 69% of all producers were men

This evaluation was done as part of the project “Öka jämställdheten inom filmbranschen i Norden”, a collaboration between Stockholms feministiska filmfestival, Kvinderådet in Denmark and Kvenréttindafélag Íslands. The projected is financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

The Icelandic Women’s Rights Association

The Icelandic Women’s Rights Association has fought for women’s rights and gender equality since 1907.

IWRA is a member of the International Alliance of Women and the European Women’s Lobby.

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