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New website acknowledges female Nordic filmmakers

The contributions of women in the film industry are often marginalised. Therefore, the Swedish Film Institute, Stockholm University, the National Library of Norway and the University of Copenhagen have decided to bring attention to the contributions of female film workers in the Nordic countries by launching a new website titled Nordic Women in Film.

The first version of the website, which focuses on the role and importance of women in the film industry, was originally launched by the Swedish Film Institute in April 2016. It raises awareness about Swedish female filmmakers and film workers through in-depth articles, portraits, interviews, news and film clips. Within the framework of a project titled Women in Nordic Film History, funded with a grant from the Nordic Council of Ministers’ gender equality fund, the website will now be expanded with information about Norwegian and Danish women’s contributions in the film industry.

’The website is needed in order to counteract the marginalisation of women’s contributions in Nordic film in both history books and today’s cultural debate,’ says Ingrid Stigsdotter, project leader and researcher at the Section for Cinema Studies, Stockholm University.

Ingrid Stigsdotter, project leader

Why have you chosen to focus on female film workers in Sweden, Denmark and Norway?

’We are hoping to eventually include Finland and Iceland as well so that the website will be a Nordic platform for research on women and film. We chose to initiate the cooperation in three languages, where the project participants and the online visitors can understand each other without a need for translation,’ says Ingrid Stigsdotter.

How is the website being built?

The project partners use their networks to contact freelance writers and researchers, who then contribute articles. The idea has been for the articles to feature photographers, screenwriters, directors, film editors and other film workers who have worked behind the camera. It’s all about acknowledging individuals who have made significant contributions without being very well known. Women have often found it easier to get jobs in areas with lower status, such as scenography and costume design. You can find many interesting names in those fields.’

Also within the framework of the project, public seminars are arranged in the three countries. The seminar in Oslo focused on the silent film era, and the one in Copenhagen on research about female screenwriters and actresses. In Stockholm on 20 November, the programme will include a presentation of a new gender equality report.

’The purpose of the seminars is to develop the cooperation among researchers in Sweden, Norway and Denmark so that they can contribute with material to the website about women in Nordic film history.’

Who is your target group?

’Anybody who is interested in film or gender equality issues. We also hope that researchers will use the website as a platform for dissemination of research findings.’

How gender equal is the Nordic film industry?

‘The industry is not gender equal. High-status domains such as film directing and photography remain male dominated. A very small share of female filmmakers work with productions that reach a larger audience.’

What are the key differences between the Nordic countries when it comes to women and film?

‘Historically, women became involved in the film industry later in Norway than in Denmark and Sweden, as the production of films started later in Norway. Today, there are more similarities than differences, but if you listen to the public debate in the three countries, you will hear a harder push for gender equality work in the form of government cultural policy in Sweden and Norway. In Denmark, there is a tradition of criticising targeted gender equality measures, such as gender quotas,’ says Ingrid Stigsdotter.

Updated 29 February 2024