The Venice Film Festival has joined festivals in Cannes, Locarno and Sarajevo in putting its signature to a gender parity charter today. Biennale chief Paolo Baratta and fest director Alberto Barbera signed the pledge, begun at Cannes by French organization 5050×2020, with the associations Dissenso Comune and Women in Film, TV & Media Italia.
The pledge, whose inclusion here in Venice was first reported yesterday, outlines three objectives: transparency on film selection details; transparency about the structure of the selection committees and management; and an increase in the presence of women in the organization’s structure.
La Biennale says it “readily signed the pledge, also in light of the fact that it has for some time already disclosed statistics and details on such aspects, and has also seen an increased female presence. Moreover, it has been working towards nurturing new talent in this sector via Biennale College.”
As of next year, a panel on gender equality will be held at the film festival, in conjunction with the associations, to gain a full, updated picture of the situation of women in film.
Venice came under fire earlier this month from women’s advocacy groups after it only selected one woman director in Competition out of 21.
Barbera today allowed that with just one film by a woman in this year’s competition, “It is quite clear that women are under represented.” But, he added, “Our work as selectors is to try and identify the best in terms of quality. I don’t believe in quotas… what counts here is the quality. The only thing that matters is what is inside the frame not that which is out.”
Today, Baratta said as part of the pledge the festival will enhance the overall Biennale database with more transparent information. He did note that the film juries this year are evenly split between men and women, and that Barbera’s cinema arm is made up of 48% females. He stated that there is “a total lack of prejudice in the establishment and the organization of the festival.”
In Italy, he said, the cinema industry “is predominantly a male world. There are some strong prejudices that are very difficult to tear down. Some people believe don’t have the necessary control to direct a set. That has to change and will change.”
Italian actress Jasmine Trinca, representing Italy’s version of #MeToo, was asked about the recent revelations surrounding Italian filmmaker and actress Asia Argento and said, “Quite honestly, no movement has ever wanted to make a declaration on what has happened to Asia. The fact that we believe the word of women is something we can’t go back on. On the personal issues, I definitely will not make a statement.”