The feminist battle to tell great stories and funding

They were few film directorsit was always the same faces that were seen in the airports, festivals and screenings. That minority consisted of women with a first and last name: Agnes Paris, Chus Gutierrez, Iciar Bollain, Isabel Coixett, Josephine Molina, Helen Tavern; Cristina Andrew Y Daniela Fejermann, among other. When they realized that there was a lot untapped female talent in Spanish cinema lack of opportunitiesthis group of filmmakers created CIMA (Association of Women Filmmakers and Audiovisual Media) in 2006. The goal was very clear: promoting the balanced presence of women in film and television.

“CIMA was born to transform a situation that seemed unfair to us: that sex determined your professional career and that, moreover, seemed to us to be a problem for all the content, series and movies that we watched,” he says. Agnes Parisfilm director The night my mother killed your fatherwhich you have available on RTVE Play.

It seemed unfair to us that sex marked the professional career

Agnes Parispresident of CIMA until 2010, also says that the cinema then it was an almost exclusively men’s club. Just one piece of information: when CIMA was created there were 9 percent women directors. In its last annual report for the year 2020, “The representativeness of women in the Spanish feature film sector 2020”, female directors reach 19%.

a men’s club

In addition, the co-director of my mother likes womenreflects that it was not only about observing a systemic inequality in Spanish cinema, but also to be aware that in that ‘room’ in which things were decided important there was no woman. “There is a very good sequence, in the series Mad Menwhich talks about how it works that men’s club. Peggy Olson is going to make an announcement with her colleagues from the agency, they decide and when she finishes working she goes to her house, to do the shopping, to take care of her mother, whatever. The next morning, Peggy returns to the office and discovers that she has changed the ad. When has it happened? While she was at her house, the men had gathered in a bar and talked about it, without counting on her, ”he explains. Paris.

But it wasn’t about going against men. “It had to be a group with a positive outlook. We didn’t want to go into what women suffer, but we started to make a positive speech: how we miss female talent“, Explain Helen Tavernfilm director Yoys.

In the “Mad Men” series, there is a sequence that talks about how the professional men’s club works. Peggy Olson makes an announcement, then her classmates change it for her and she wasn’t there when she made up her mind.

Correct the inequality

-Why was CIMA necessary?
“What an interesting question,” he replies. Elizabeth de Ocampo– Why are human rights necessary? she adds, ironically. The director of the movie Evelyn It represents a younger generation from which he founded TOP, but which has also committed itself to the fight against inequality in spanish cinema and sometimes also has benefited at the time of directing his films of the repercussions of the so-called “CIMA method”. This method is based on analyze a professional context, write reports in which they are detected relative problems to the lack of iequality and propose very concrete solutions such as, for example, getting state cinema subsidies to value peer teams in films.

You have to take into account the unequal situation that still exists in spanish cinematography. In the latest CIMA report, it is reported that only one in three people working in the audiovisual sector in Spain is a woman. “CIMA is necessary when society itself is not capable of practicing social justice, so that half of Spain has our voice and the right to tell the stories as we like. That is to say: without insulting our intelligence”make sure of Ocampo and adds: “I have had to listen to so many nonsense throughout my life. I remember Paco Regueiro, who is a director I had studied, who loved his films, once said when I was present: “It’s just that nowadays even women want to make movies”. And I kept thinking why not? What problem do I have to do this that I love just like you love?”

I remember listening to Paco Regueiro, a director I greatly admired: “Now even women want to make films”

Women in Spanish cinema

Women, 80% of consumers

The appointment with four film directors, Helena Taberna, Inés París, Juana Macías and Isabel de Ocampo is at the “Rosi La Loca” restaurant on Cádiz street in Madrid..This last director enters stomping in the premises of almodovarian wallswith two floors in which stand out Floripondios, ‘vintage’ lamps and Warholian neons.

Ocampo it’s a tank inexhaustible energy and while tells the cameraman that he wants to see the shot, takes a ‘selfie’ with the whole team, to upload it to Instagram, and asks for the name of the program. “Objective Equality”, she replied while joking with the team, the director of the documentary You will be a man, in which she deconstructs traditional gender values.

When I met her, shooting shorts, Isabel de Ocampo had just won the Goya for Best Short Film for “Miente”, arousing the envy of many of her male colleagues. I remember that, at a dinner, I heard how one said that her cut was too much of a victimizer. Interestingly, whoever said it had never even been nominated for a Goya and later I felt angry with myself for not having stopped that colleague by profession.

But even then, in 2009, De Ocampo was flying free beyond what people thought and he had the vocation to direct big movies without fear, with fear, he didn’t care. At that time he said two great phrases who later influenced other young directors so much: “You suffer from more to less” Y “If you lead, it’s because you like problems.”

Prejudices must be overcome because 100% of the financing is in male hands

Anyone who has directed a movie, or several shorts, knows that both quotes are true as temples. And more if you are a woman. Because in the cinema there was the circumstance, especially a few years ago, that a woman directing, commanded technical teams made up of men, mostly. So, effectively, you had to like problems. “I would love to make blockbusters and I aspire to make blockbusters. And I am preparing for it. Yes, it is true that prejudices must be overcome because 100 percent of the financing is in male hands. And someone who puts money into a project wants to identify with it,” says Elizabeth de Ocampo.

“It must also be said that women are 80 percent of consumers. We have enormous power, a power that we are not aware of,” concludes De Ocampo.

Women represent 80 percent of film and television consumers

the key is money

“A novelist or a painter does her work in a more solitary way. You, on the other hand, are forced to enter an industry and be accepted in that industry. And the key to that is always money,” he says. Agnes Paris. Everything comes in line how important it is to access the club of those who decide and distribute the financing in the cinema, a club from which women are historically excluded. According to CIMA, the average costs of films directed by women are half lower than those of films directed by men (-51%).

The positive action measures in the granting of state aid -general and selective- are working and favor the start-up of films with authors and techniques in a larger proportion. But still much remains to be done because parity in the cinema is far from being achieved. “I think it was a very shocking and quite horrifying moment for us, when we realized that in addition to the other difficulties, if you do the average budget of the films that we direct, we usually have less than half the budget of what they have. our male colleagues. If the average for the year was one million two hundred thousand euros, those of women were 700,000 euros”.

We have half the budget compared to our male peers

another stereotype that the four directors disassemble is that women make an intimate cinema. “I think the issue of more or less intimate films has nothing to do with anything specific to women, it has to do with budgets. It has to do with the fact that the budgets that women manage are smaller than those of men. A times up to 50 percent,” says Juana Macias.

Looking for a mentor

Before beginning her interview, the director of Evelyn he had sat on the stairs that go down to the ground floor of the Rosi La Loca, listening to what he was saying Agnes Paris, quiet, discreet and calm. Inés was Isabel’s mentor, sharing experiences and knowledge. The oldest director has supported the youngest. Which brings us to an important point of CIMA’s work in Spanish cinema: recognizing the importance of having the support of a mentor for a young woman starting out.

What is happening today is also a consequence of a movement of support, of ‘mentoring’ in English, of directors dedicated to new filmmakers. It materialized in a program called “CIMA mentoring”. “In this way, you put young directors and screenwriters in contact with other directors with recognized careers. What you are looking for is to promote new projects, a representation of female talent,” he says. Juana Maciasdirector of the film “Pregnant”.

CIMA mentoring wants to promote new female talent

The lack of female references is something that has also marked the professional career of women filmmakers in Spanish cinema. “Why? Because historically there have been no female figures, we are not used to anything else. Because it also happens that when a sector is very masculinized, it happens that men talk to each other and exclude us.”

One of the pioneer female directors is Josephine Molinawhich was given the honorary presidency of CIMA, in recognition of her work paving the way for the young female directors who came after. “When more equal quotas are achieved, difficulties or even competition appear. At this time, female talent, which I thought had to come out, with more force, as it has been demonstrated. We are already several directors who have a trajectory, that we premiere the films and we have a following of the public. Above all, a group of new directors are appearing who come out of film school, with good preparation, and who are showing a look at the world that was unknown, “he explains. Helen Tavern.

New young directors come out, with a new look at the world

It is the so-called “Boom of young female directors”, sufficiently prepared and willing to tell different stories. Are Carla Simondirector of Summer of ’93; Lucia Alemanydirector of innocence; Pillar Dovecoteauthor of the girlswhich won the last Goya Award for Best Film. Without the work of the ‘tribe’ of women behind it, the journey would not have been possible.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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