Venice Film Fest 2018: Del Toro, Jury President, Urges Gender Equality

The lack of women directors was the urgent topic addressed during the opening press conference of 2018 Venice Film Fest, which has yet to sign a pledge for gender equality as did Cannes and Locarno earlier this year.

Jury president Guillermo del Toro spoke about the need for gender equality and his commitment to women filmmakers. “I think the goal has to be 50/50 by 20/20, if it’s 50/50 by 2019 that’s even better,” said del Toro.

The Oscar winner attended the presser with fellow Jury members, Christoph Waltz, Naomi Watts, Sylvia Chang, Trine Dyrholm, Nicole Garcia, Paolo Genovese, Malgorzata Szumowska, and Taika Waititi.

“We have a real problem now. It’s a real problem in our culture in general. Many of the voices that need to be heard have to be heard. It’s not a matter of establishing a quota, it’s a matter of in this time, precisely this type of conversation to call it out and make it known. I think it’s necessary because for many decades, if not centuries, it has not been called. It’s not a controversy, it’s a real problem,” said del Toro, adding that more than half of the projects he’s developing have female directors or screenwriters attached.

As to whether there was a risk he could favor “Roma” by fellow Mexican Alfonso Cuaron in the race for the Golden Lion, del Toro said: “I’m not dictator of the jury, just president!”

Del Toro said he was currently producing 5 movies — 3 of which will be directed by a woman, a pair of whom are feature debuts.

For the second year in a row, Venice’s competition included a single film directed by a woman, Jennifer Kent’s “The Nightingale.” The festival’s artistic director Alberto Barbera, who has been criticized for failing to select more women filmmakers in the lineup, did not make any comments about this issue during the presser.

Paolo Baratta who presides the Biennale, told journalists “the submissions of films by women directors is relatively low, 21%, on average.”

“I hope that other festivals will disclose their data on this, so we can have a reference point for a more objective examination of the situation… As far as the suspicion that the festival has bias…and that we need to check this. I am absolutely open to this, but I am also against there idea that quotas are the solutions to fix film festivals,” added Baratta.