Venice Film Fest 2017: Artistic Director Barbera on Lack of Female Directors

The 2017 Venice Film Fest, which kicks off August 30, has shown a special penchant for showcasing the world premieres of films that go on to become Oscar winners and/or Oscar nominees.

According to the Hollywood Reporter:

Seventy-two Oscar Award nominations and 23 wins is Venice’s tally since fest director Alberto Barbera’s streak began in 2013, with either a best picture or best director win from each of the past four years, for Gravity, Birdman, Spotlight and La La Land.

Birdman and Spotlight have won the Best Picture Oscar, in 2014 and 2015, respectively, and Gravity and La La Land have been nominated for Best Picture and have earned the Best Director Oscar for their helmers, Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity) and Damien Chazelle (La La Land).

This year’s edition, with new entries from George Clooney (Suburbicon), Darren Aronofsky (Mother!), Alexander Payne (Downsizing) and Paul Schrader (First Reformed), Venice’s 2017 mix of studio and independent fare still is impressive, compared to most festival lineups.

Of the 21 films screening in competition this year in Venice, only one — Vivian Qu’s Angels Wear White — was directed by a woman. By comparison, Cannes’ lineup this year included three female directors out of its 18 competition films.

“I don’t think it’s our fault,” says Barbera, who adds that he screens films without knowing who the director is. Moreover, he believes there isn’t anything wrong with showing only one female-helmed movie that’s good enough to make the competition cut.

Barbera is against any moves to introduce a female quota when it comes to his festival lineup. “I don’t like to think in terms of a quota when you make a selection process,” he says. “I’m sorry that there are very few films from women this year, but we are not producing films.”

Director Qu agrees with Barbera that the Venice male-dominated lineup is a symptom, not a cause, of the problem.

“Of course I wish there were more female filmmakers presented in the festival,” she says. But, “to go to the root of the problem, if more women were encouraged to work in film and had the opportunity to take on major creative roles, I’m sure we will see more and more films by women.”

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