Venice Film Festival moves on gender equality, but no sign of quotas

FILE PHOTO: The 75th Venice International Film Festival - Juries photocall - Venice, Italy, August 29, 2018 - Director of the Venice International Film Festival Alberto Barbera poses. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

VENICE, Italy (Reuters) - The organizers of the Venice Film Festival signed a pledge on Friday to work toward gender equality, hoping to mollify critics who have accused them of sidelining women filmmakers.

Venice follows other European film festivals Cannes and Locarno in pledging to get an equal number of men and women in its top management by 2020 – but it has ruled out any quota system for selecting films to compete.

Of the 21 films vying for the Golden Lion this year, only one was directed by a woman, “The Nightingale” by Australian Jennifer Kent.

The pledge does not go anywhere near what some are demanding. In an open letter to Alberto Barbera, Venice’s artistic director, campaigners called for tough action to end a “rigged system which favors mainly white males”.

“Alberto Barbera, will you pledge 50/50 gender equity for female directors? Will you have your team trained in Unconscious Bias?” read the letter from the European Women’s Audiovisual Network and Women in Film & TV International.

The Venice Film Festival runs from Aug. 29 to Sept 8.

Reporting by Robin Pomeroy, editing by Andrei Khalip