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Venice Film Festival Signs Pledge to Address Gender Disparity

La Biennale follows the Cannes, Locarno and Sarajevo film festivals in signing pledge

The Venice Film Festival signed a pledge for gender parity on Friday, following suit with Cannes, Locarno and Sarajevo film festivals.

The pledge, initiated by French organization 5050×2020, was signed by the festival’s artistic director Alberto Barbera, president of La Biennale Paolo Baratta, and the Italian groups Dissenso Comune and Women in Film, TV & Media Italia.

“The pledge outlines three objectives, similar to those signed by other festivals,” read the official statement. “1) Transparency about film selection details, 2) Transparency about the structure of the selection committees, as well as management and 3) An increase in the presence of women in the organization’s structure.”

The Twitter account of 5050×2020 added that the Venice Film Festival has committed to “releasing statistics on submissions” and “being transparent about selection board gender makeups.”

According to Variety, festival organizers insisted that the practices outlined in the pledge are already in effect, although the festival was heavily criticized for only selecting one film by a woman — Jennifer Kent’s “The Nightingale” for the competition — for the second year in a row. Baratta scoffed at the suggestion that the festival was seeing the repercussions of Italy’s “toxic masculinity.”

“If the Venice festival is an example of toxic masculinity because they have just one film by a woman in competition, then I don’t understand why a festival that instead has two should not be considered toxic,” he said. “In that case, all we would have to do is have three women in competition next year and the problem would be solved. This would be ridiculous!”

Additionally, Baratta said the organization would publish internal numbers on gender, and that the festival would hold a seminar every year to analyze the statistics “in order to gain a full, updated picture of the situation of women in film,” according to the press release.