Female representation among feature directors in this year’s Locarno International Film Festival program has declined compared to last year, according to figures presented by artistic director Giona A. Nazzaro at an event organized by the Swiss Women’s Audiovisual Network (SWAN). The occasion marked the fifth anniversary of Locarno’s commitment to the Programming Pledge for Parity and Inclusion in Cinema Festivals, with Locarno becoming the first A-list festival after Cannes to prioritize gender equality and inclusion in its programming.
This year’s submissions saw 26.3% of feature films coming from women directors, in contrast to 66.8% from male counterparts. The final official selection revealed 30.2% representation for women filmmakers, while their male peers accounted for 63.5% of the films screened over the 11-day festival. This is a drop of 6.5% for women-directed feature films compared to last year’s record of 36.7%, which was an increase from the 28% programmed in 2021.
Nazzaro praised Locarno’s efforts in promoting women filmmakers, stating, “Locarno single-handedly put more women on the map in the last year than more established festivals altogether.” He cited successful films from the previous year’s program, such as “Rule 34” by Brazilian director Julia Murat and “Nightsiren” by Tereza Nvotová, which won the Golden Leopard for Best Film.
Nazzaro proposed a shift in focus from mere statistical analysis, suggesting that alternative methods of achieving progress, like thinking creatively and pushing for exceptional quality, can be equally effective in advancing gender equality and representation. “Locarno can only survive if it makes a difference, and we’re trying to do that by supporting uncompromising voices,” Nazzaro affirmed, underlining the festival’s commitment to promoting diversity and unique artistic perspectives.