International film festivals boast lineups that include projects imagined by quirky industry newcomers as well as seasoned creators — but not, apparently, if they're directed by women. At least, that seems to be the case with the Venice Film Festival, which has just one female-directed project in its roster of 21 movies. It's called Angels Wear White, directed by Vivian Qu.
"I don't think it's our fault," Alberto Barbera, director of the festival, told The Hollywood Reporter about the gender gap. "I don't like to think in terms of a quota when you make a selection process. I'm sorry that there are very few films from women this year, but we are not producing films."
Qu, the sole female director, also doesn't blame the festival.
"Of course I wish there were more female filmmakers presented in the festival (or in any festival)," she told the outlet. "[But] to go to the root of the problem, if more women were encouraged to work in film and had the opportunity to take on major creative roles, I'm sure we will see more and more films by women."
Back in May, Jessica Chastain, who called out a similar disparity during the Cannes Film Festival, pointed out just how far-reaching the effects of this underrepresentation can be.
"This is the first time I’ve watched 20 films in 10 days," she said at a panel during the festival (which, for the record, had only three female-directed films in its lineup). "I love movies, and the one thing I really took away from this experience is how the world views women from the female characters that I saw represented. It was quite disturbing, to be honest.”
When women aren't behind the camera, the women in front of the camera suffer.
"There are some exceptions, I will say. But for the most part, I was surprised with the representation of female characters on screen in these films," she continued. "The women that I recognise in my day-to-day life — ones that are proactive, have their own agencies, don’t just react to the men around them — they have their own point of view."
It's not enough to just encourage women to get involved — the people who hold the keys have to change their attitudes as well.