The BFI has said it expects to allocate 50% of its funding to women directors by 2020 - and is considering covering childcare costs for some writers and directors.

BFI exterior

Speaking in Cannes, the British Film Institute (BFI) has said that it expects 50% of its funding to go to women directors before 2020.

BFI CEO Amanda Nevill and BFI Film Fund director Ben Roberts were among industry taking part in a diversity panel hosted by Directors UK, which earlier this month released a report calling for 50:50 public funding for women directors by 2020.

According to the report, in the decade from 2004 to 2014, only 13.6% of working film directors in the UK were women. It claimed an “unconscious, systemic bias” towards male directors in UK.

“We agree with the 50:50 [target]” said Nevill in Cannes. “In terms of the films we fund, we will do it together before 2020.”

“Targets are important because they help message to the world that we are open and equal,” added Roberts. “But we are limited in that we rarely put in more than 50% of a budget.”

In 2015-16, 34% of the films the BFI backed were from women directors.

Roberts called on festivals and voters to be more mindful of diversity: “Suffragette is a great example of a film made by women with women in mind and it made £10m at the UK box office. But it didn’t get a single nomination at the BAFTAs. That’s really depressing.

“I do think that anyone who votes for BAFTA or anyone who selects for festivals shouldn’t just be thinking about what’s best but should also be thinking about what feels like an opportunity to send out some positive signals.”


In a bid to increase the number of women writers and directors active in the industry Nevill told the Cannes audience that the organisation is also mulling covering childcare costs for some writers and directors:

“We’re very interested to know whether us funding creches, for example, could help,” she said. “Would it help, when we’re funding women - or men - who are sole carers of children and who have optioned books - if they could apply to have childcare [costs covered]? 

“We would be really open to this and it’s something that we’re looking at very hard in Film Forever 2 [the BFI’s next five year plan for film].” 


The comments came ahead of today’s launch in Cannes of Boudica, a film finance initiative aimed at female-centric films. 

The Women in Film & TV-supported scheme is led by Rebecca Long and Ian Davies, who have helped finance films including The Falling and Iona.

According to Long and Davies, Boudica will consider the gender of director, screenwriter, producer, protagonists and the overall gender balance of the crew.