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Nordic Film Project Wants to Break the Male Dominance

WIFT Nordic wants to improve the situation of women in the film industry. Today, men are benefiting from a disproportionate share of the available production support and overall space, which affects both the stories told and the characters displayed in the films. How can the situation be improved for women in this sector?

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When it comes to gender equality in the film industry, there is some variation across the Nordic countries. In some countries, such as Sweden, the issue has been on the agenda for a longer time and there are state interventions to divide the production support more equally between women and men. In contrast, in Denmark male filmmakers receive four times as much support as their female counterparts. All countries, however, share the same underlying problem. According to Jenni Koski, producer and project manager for WIFT Nordic, the problem cannot be solved without well-coordinated efforts. WIFT (Women in Film and Television) started in the U.S. in the 1970s. Today the organisation is represented in about 40 countries. WIFT in Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Denmark have a total of 700 members.

Can you describe the organisation’s work?

‘By sharing experiences, we can help each other bring attention to the issues in each country and put pressure on the policy makers. If one country takes the lead, the rest of us can use it as a good example. I’m for example thinking of the Swedish film agreement, which says that the national production support must be distributed equally between women and men. It must be split 50-50 between women and men in each of the three staff categories directors, screenwriters and producers. The agreement has been a great success and has contributed to more voices being heard. It’s a good example of how positive change can be accomplished at the political level. Iceland is about to implement a similar agreement. The other Nordic countries also need this type of reform.’

Which structures are obstructing the development of gender equality?

‘The film industry has been male dominated throughout its entire century-long history. It has always been easier and that’s exactly what we do in our network. At our meetings, everybody can share their ideas without being judged or criticised, and beginners can get professional support from the more experienced film workers. It’s about supporting each other, not competing. Together we’re strong.’

What events are you arranging this spring?

‘In 2015, we participated in eight festivals all over the Nordic region. In March, we were at BUFF, an international film festival for children and young people in Malmö, Sweden, where we had a workshop on female representation in film. Whose stories are told and what characters do we get to see – do the films we watch reflect reality? We have also been at Season Film Festival in Helsinki in late March, where we did a seminar on what it is like to be a woman and write comedies.’

for men to get funded and advance their careers. They are more likely to have a platform and the self-confidence to make their presence known and to make things happen. It’s a tough business with fierce competition, and you’re always being judged. Women have to work harder and perform better to make their voices heard. We see that women in the film industry need to be strengthened,


This is an article about one of the projects granted funding through the Nordic Gender Equality Fund.

Updated 2 October 2020