Workshop to probe statistics behind the debate on women in film.

The European Audiovisual Observatory is to run an event looking at the place of women in today’s film industry, entitled “Girls Just Wanna Have Film”, during the Cannes Film Festival (May 14-25).

“We know this is a hot topic but it’s clear that any discussion on this subject needs to be backed up by reliable facts and figures. It’s the Observatory’s role to provide these and that’s what we come to Cannes to do,” EAO’s executive director Susanne Nikoltchev told ScreenDaily.

“We made a study on female directors at the request of our Advisory Committee and we’d like to make this data available to add to the discussion.”

News of the conference comes amid the now traditional Cannes debate on the number of women in Official Selection as well as the parallel sections

There are two females in Competition this year – Alice Rohrwacher with Le meraviglie and Naomi Kawase with Still The Water – and another seven in Un Certain Regard. Parallel sections Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week each include two female directors, in the feature sections.

Referring to the debate as an “old Cannes chestnut”, Thierry Fremaux told ScreenDaily last week that he thought linking the debate on female equality in the film industry to Cannes was “idiotic” as it was an issue that should be tackled all year round. 

He spent part of Easter Monday locked in a Twitter debate with French feminists and producers who took umbrage at his attitude, at one point tweeting: “The Jury is equal. There will even be five women and four men.” The jury has yet to be announced.

At the day-long European Audiovisual Observatory event on May 17, the body’s film industry analyst Julio Talavera Milla will unveil a new study on admission figures of European films by female directors. Vivienne Avery, head of research and statistics at the British Film Institute (BFI), will present the study “Succés de Plume? Female Screenwriters and Directors of UK Films 2010-2012”.

Benoît Danard, head of research at France’s National Cinema Centre (CNC) will give a presentation of the body’s recent study “The place of women in the film and audiovisual industries”, which was released in France last month.

The presentations will be followed by a panel discussion on the challenges facing woman working in film today and “how to even the odds”.

Speakers billed to participate include Sanja Ravlić, Eurimages representative for Croatia and head of development at the Croatian Audiovisual Centre and producer Jani Thiltges of Samsa Film and head of studies at training body EAVE. Director Pascale Ferran, whose Bird People is premiering in Un Certain Regard is also down to attend but has yet to confirm.