Award-winning director Jasmila Zbanic has echoed Jane Campion’s call to mandate that 50% of all films should be made by women.
Zbanic, the Bosnian director of Berlinale winner Grbavica and For Those Who Can Tell No Tales, has received the inaugural Femme du Cinema award at the Les Arcs European Film Festival (Dec 14-21).
The honorary award recognises a female director, producer or actress deemed to be “particularly emblematic of European cinema”.
Accepting the honour, Zbanic thanked Les Arcs for creating an award that “raises awareness of the unjust treatment of women in cinema”.
In her speech, the director slammed the “fascistic” portrayal of women on screen and repeated a call by Jane Campion, the New Zealand director of The Piano and Top of the Lake, to impose quotas on production.
“When I go to the cinema, I don’t care if the film is made by a man or woman as long as it tells me stories and offers me pictures that put light on my existence, characters I can identify with, jokes I can laugh at,” said Zbanic.
“Unfortunately, not many films do so and some films offend me, showing old fashioned and sometimes fascistic images of women that I cannot identify with and especially not laugh at.
“Money involved in filmmaking is distributed mostly to men. US research shows that only 9% of women share this cake and are allowed to tell their stories, although 50% of us women are the audience in cinemas and we are not happy with what we are offered to see.
“Jane Campion said we should mandate that 50% of films produced are made by women. That should be possible with public money. Instantly the culture would change. It can be done.
“She also gave advice to young, female filmmakers. Please do not play the lady card. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Just do your work and let someone else deal with politics. “
However, Zbanic did not side with all Campion’s demands.
“I don’t know who is the authority that should deal with politics in our name. We shouldn’t give our husbands or fathers rights to represent us,” Zbanic added.
“The main work is still on us. We should do it with love and dignity, not feeling sorry for ourselves, but demanding a change in the presentment of women in films, demanding rights to stories we want to share, passionate needs, fantasies, jokes that we can laugh at because the current situation is not funny.”