“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”
– Shirley Chisholm
Tomorrow, on International Women’s Day at 8:00 a.m. GMT, Celluloid Junkie will publish its third annual “Top Women in Global Cinema” list.
The list was launched in 2016 to highlight the major role played by female leaders in cinema operations both large and small, as well as in related fields around the world. The list signifies the importance of sustaining gender equality throughout the industry, particularly when it comes to senior leadership roles.
With the emergence of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, it is imperative to not just acknowledge the systemic imbalance and subsequent abuses of power in the workplace, but to also create change by allowing room for a more diverse and inclusive decision-making process. According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film, only 13% of directors and 19% of executives at the senior level of the film industry are women—despite the fact that women make up 52% of the moviegoing population (MPAA Report, 2016). Knowing this discrepancy in representation, women must not only have a seat at the table—they must be at the forefront of the conversation.
The women featured on this year’s list will go on to inspire those from younger generations, including myself, to take initiative. They prove that the only way our industry moves forward is if we take on leadership roles, becoming a catalyst for positive change. However, we also hope that this year’s candidates compel current industry leaders to practice transformational leadership and focus on gender equality not as a ‘check in the box’ but as a mandate to shape the future of our industry.
Changes to the 2018 Selection Process
Once primarily comprised of the Celluloid Junkie team, the selection committee has expanded to include a wider array of industry executives, including representatives from the Film Expo Group and the former CEO of the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC). The committee went from being 100% male up to 2017 to being 40% female in 2018. The goal next year is for a 50/50 gender balance, which we will maintain for as long as the list continues.
This year the pool of candidates was widened to include more women from the vendor, concession and service sectors of cinema, as well as exhibitor relations candidates from leading theatrical distributors.
We received a record number of nominations and submissions, making the selection process longer and more labor intensive than in the past. This means that some women who were included last year are not on the list this year. This may be due to changes in the industry or simply because they had a lower profile during the past year. It is not because their work became less valuable in any way.
When compiling the list we considered abolishing the ranking system and just highlighting 50 candidates. However, we recognize that some have worked in the industry longer and have shown stronger accomplishments. We feel it was only fair to acknowledge that some have achieved more than others within the past year. However, we have opted not to include last year’s ranking, as we do not believe that information is necessary or beneficial.
Some women have left their companies so while they might have achieved a great deal in the past 12 months, if a candidate is not currently employed by a cinema-related company or is departing the industry, we did not include them in this year’s list.
We realize that there are numerous women who are either starting out their careers in the industry or have not yet made their big mark. This is why we created a special ‘Ones to Watch’ category, recognizing those that haven’t yet made the list but have the potential to in the near future.
2018 Selection Criteria
What makes a ‘top’ woman in global cinema? It is not her title, the size of the company she works for, or how many times she’s been on a stage in the past year. We focused on women who inspire, innovate, and influence. These three I’s are what guided the nomination and selection committee in its difficult task. The process involved extensive conference calls between the committee members spanning no fewer than three continents and four time zones: New York, Los Angeles, Singapore and Cologne.
2018 Research and Findings
When nominations from major cinema territories such as Japan, South Korea, Turkey, and India were not submitted we searched for candidates without any luck. Perhaps we overlooked one or more deserving woman, but through our research we came to suspect that women have simply not been promoted to senior cinema positions in these territories. This unfortunate finding holds true for much of Latin America and many other regions as well.
Though nominations helped with the selection of those included in the list, ultimately the rankings are subjective, but were arrived at through long internal discussions and external consultations.
We acknowledge the argument that a “women-only” list runs counter to the goal of equal representation by focusing on only one gender. However, we believe the lack of that same equal representation in industry-specific “power” lists necessitates the creation of a female-only counterpart. Our goal is that industry lists will show fairer representation in the future as a result.
The selections for the Top 50 Women in Global Cinema and the Ones to Watch will be published tomorrow March 8th on Celluloid Junkie at 8:00 a.m. GMT on International Women’s Day.
Because of the length of the list and the short time we’ve had between compiling the finalists and announcing the results, we will not have in-depth profiles of each of the 50 candidates.
Instead we will be looking more closely at many of these women in collaboration with Film Journal International over the coming months.
We hope you will join us in celebrating and congratulating those on the list, as well as every woman who has worked tirelessly to promote the cinema experience.