Quotas work. Despite criticism and objections from the extreme right, the data makes it clear that thanks to the measures installed in Spanish cinema, representativeness has improved and the gender gap has narrowed. It is one of the main conclusions that emerge from the annual report of the Association of Women Filmmakers (CIMA), which in this document confirms the positive consequences of the measures to correct inequality taken by the Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts ( ICAA) in public aid.
“It is insane that they congratulate us for bringing five women, it is not something to be proud of”
From 13% of women directing films that received general production aid (those aimed at the most popular films) in 2018, it has gone to 38% in 2021. This has been done thanks to measures such as reserving a part of the fund exclusively for women (in 2021 that reserve was 30%). The same measure that was taken in the selective grants (those that go to a more authorial cinema and to the discovery of new talents), where the reservation of 35% of public money has meant that 23% of women who led projects in 2018 will reach 51% in 2021. Parity has been achieved in this type of grant.
“Measures to support the promotion of women in the granting of state aid are working and favor the start-up of films with female authors and techniques in a greater proportion,” says the report. The measures taken do not refer only to the reserved quota of public money, but also to the fact that extra points are awarded to obtain aid for those films that have women at the head of their creative teams (such as directors or screenwriters).
However, the report indicates that this progress in representativeness has not been transferred to the entire industry. Outside the cinema that receives aid, the presence of women continues to be lower. In 2021, women represented 32% of the professionals in the sector, a percentage that decreases in management, where it was 21%, and in sectors where inequality is still too great, such as musical composition, where there is only 12% of women; or the direction of photography, where there is 16%.
Another of the document’s conclusions is that the economic gap between films directed by women and those directed by men, one of CIMA’s constant struggles, continues to exist. The average costs of films directed by women are half lower than those of films directed by men. The average cost of a film directed by a man in 2021 was 2,077,904 euros compared to 1,036,870.44 euros for a film by a female director.
Looking at the economic gap in public aid confirms again that quotas work. In general aid, a difference of 17% between the budgets of films directed by men and those with a woman in front has gone from 7% in 2021. In the selective ones, that gap is reduced from 23% to 6%. However, higher-budget films remain less accessible to female directors, something that is also seen in the number of films made by the film subsidiaries of private television networks that have a female director at the helm.
The measures to support the promotion of women in the granting of state aid are working and favor the launch of films with female authors
Last year Telecinco produced two films. None directed by a woman. Atresmedia Cine produced one film with a female director and three with men. They are not exceptions, the report explains that “in the seven years studied, they add a percentage of support for women’s leadership of 7% and 9% respectively”. “Your support for these projects, specifically Telecinco Cinema, appears almost anecdotally in both specific histories. In this objective, economic gaps are not studied, only representativeness is addressed, but it would be very interesting to be able to incorporate this information”, they add.
RTVE, for its part, has improved the percentage of women at the head of the projects it supports since 2015, where so
14% had female directors compared to 32% in 2021. However, from CIMA they point out that despite the “increasing support over the years studied” it continues “without complying with equitable support in terms of leadership by sex”. The report also analyzes regional aid and shows that, of the 13 lines of subsidies studied, in four Autonomous Communities politicians in favor of equality have not yet been introduced, such as Aragón, Comunidad Valenciana, Madrid and Castilla y León.
The importance of references
A study that puts figures from last year to what the collective book pointed out Gender gap in the Spanish audiovisual (Tirana Humanities), in which Concha Gómez, Sara Álvarez Sarrat, Susana de la Sierra, Mario de la Torre, Carlos F. Heredero, María José Higueras, Natalia Martínez Pérez, Nieves Rosendo and Bárbara Zecchi, underlined the great gender differences that still exist in the sector, but they also put their emphasis on making visible those female references that the official historiography erased or ignored for decades in order to understand the role that women currently play in fields of the industry that continue to be highly masculinized.
Some references that are fundamental, as Belén Funes commented at the CIMA meeting in Valladolid in 2019 and that the book collects: “when I was little and a woman came out in the little square of the nominees, I thought: I can also be there”. Funes won the Goya for Best New Director in 2020 for The daughter of a thief and there are already five women who have won the award consecutively, demonstrating the importance of these referents and that something is changing in Spanish cinema, whose future is clearly linked to that of female directors.
This may reduce the imbalance between women who are already studying at film schools and those who later enter the labor market. Gender gap in the Spanish audiovisual shows that in the ECAM they have a student body in which 55% are women. At ESCAC this percentage is 43.5%, while at the Elías Querejeta film school, 60% of its seats are occupied by women. Therefore, the figures from the CIMA report show that there is a gap between the number of female students and that of directors and technicians. A gap that shows that quotas and active policies are still needed to reach a parity that is closer but still remains.