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Less than one fifth of European films were directed by women in 2017

European Audiovisual Observatory publishes new report on gender of directors of European films.
Strasbourg, France 22/10/2019
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Less than one fifth of European films were directed by women in 2017

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Key insights:

  • Female directors represent 21% of all directors of European films produced between 2003 and 2017. Women tend to direct fewer feature films compared to their male counterparts: 49% of all women directors included in our sample only directed one single feature since 2003.
  • Overall, only 17% of European feature films were directed by women between 2003 and 2017.
  • The share of films by female directors in Europe is growing slowly, reaching 19% in 2017.
  • The prevalence of female directors is higher in documentary than in fiction and animation.

The report aims at helping to quantify the gender imbalance among film directors in Europe. It first provides a general overview of the gender of directors of European films. Then, it looks at the volume and share of films by gender of director, including information on film genres.
The analysis draws on data from the European Audiovisual Observatory’s LUMIERE database, which collates annual admissions to theatrically released films from a variety of sources, including national film agencies.
The study sample comprises a total of 21 054 European feature films produced between 2003 and 2017 and theatrically released between 2003 and 2018.

1. 21% of directors of European films are women

Cumulatively, female directors only represent 21% of all directors in our sample, which corresponds to a total of 2 997 female directors.

Female directors tend to direct fewer films than their male counterparts: 49% of women included in our sample directed only one single film between 2003 and 2017, compared to 40% for men. Only 30% of female directors worked on more than two films during the same time period, compared to 39% for male directors. On average, each female director shot 1.4 films between 2003 and 2017, compared to 1.6 for male directors.

Comparison of output of directors by gender, in % of directors (2003-2017)

Source: European Audiovisual Observatory\ Lumière

 

2. Films by female directors represent 17% of films produced between 2003 and 2017

The analysis identified a total of 3 618 European films directed by women, corresponding to 17% of all films in the sample. This compares to 80% for films by male directors and 3% for films by a group of directors of both genders.

Number of European films produced and released by gender of director (2003-2017)

Source: European Audiovisual Observatory\ Lumière

 

3. The share of films by female directors struggles to take off

Although the number of European films by female directors has been growing, their share of the total number of films is progressing slowly, rising from 15% in 2003 to 19% in 2017. This share has been comparatively stable across the last five years for which data was available.
Significant differences can be observed across Europe: while France is the country with the highest number of films directed by women, the share of female-directed films is higher in medium-sized production countries, led by the Netherlands and Sweden.

% of European feature films by gender of director and year of production (2003-2017)

Source: European Audiovisual Observatory\ Lumière

 

4. Documentary is the film genre with the highest presence of female directors

Among films produced in the period 2013-2017, an average of 25% of documentary features were directed by women, compared to 15% for fiction films and 11% for animation.

European films by gender of director and film genre (annual AVG 2013-2017)

Source: European Audiovisual Observatory\ Lumière

 

Even if the majority of films directed by women are works of fiction, the annual average share of documentary films among films by female directors has significantly increased since 2003, reaching 42% in 2017.

Breakdown of European films by female directors by film genre and by production year (2003-2017)

Source: European Audiovisual Observatory\ Lumière


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