Danish Film Institute: Building Diversity in the Danish Cinema Culture
The Film Agreement lays down the economic and film-policy framework for the activities of the Danish Film Institute for a four-year period. The Film Agreement is approved by the Danish parliament, the Folketing.
The latest Film Agreement runs from 2015-2018. For the current period, the Danish Film Institute has an annual operating budget of about 500 million kroner (67 million euros).
The Danish Film Institute actively works to strengthen and develop a vibrant and diverse film culture. In 2014, the DFI, in partnership with the industry, took the initiative to enhance these efforts, focusing on ethnicity, gender and social background.
Having a diverse film culture is vital for Danish film to sustain its quality and cultural importance. For films to remain relevant to audiences, we need more and different voices.
Among new talents and established filmmakers alike, efforts must be made to ensure broader representation in terms of ethnicity, gender and social background. The stories that are told, and the ways in which they are told, must be built on diverse experiences and artistic visions.
The Danish Film Institute has worked closely with the industry’s organisations since 2014 to ensure greater diversity in Danish film, both in front of and behind the camera. This work includes initiatives to document, raise awareness, educate and help change attitudes and unconscious patterns of behavior – with a focus on these areas:
A 2015 study detected an imbalance in ethnic representation in Danish film. A number of initiatives were launched to ensure that Danish film is developed and enriched by the cultural diversity found in the general population.
Casting directors have held workshops for amateurs and professional actors of non-Danish ethnicity and created a bank of names to be used by casting directors throughout the country.
A mentor programme has been set up, where experienced filmmakers, including producers, directors and screenwriters, help young colleagues get a foot in the door of the business. Plans are also being drawn up for a special internship programme at production companies.
The DFI has worked with the film industry’s organisations since 2016 to improve the gender balance in Danish film. Among other things, a qualitative study has been launched to examine why fewer women than men get the opportunity to direct their first feature after graduating from the National Film School of Denmark. Plus, a voluntary self-reporting form is being devised for production companies to indicate the gender representation in completed productions.
Several initiatives have been launched to raise awareness of gender stereotypes in Danish films and TV series. In one notable case, the Danish Playwrights’ and Screenwriters’ Guild (Danske Dramatikere) got the public’s attention with ManusFestet (external link), a satirical guide pointing out 40 gender clichés in Danish films and TV series.
The DFI moreover works on gender issues in-house, including training employees whose work involves the awarding of funds to recognize and understand unconscious patterns of behavior.
Furthermore, efforts to prevent sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior have become part of the partnership work between the Film Institute and the film industry’s organisations.
Social and geographic diversity
In 2017 collaboration with Copenhagen Business School, a focus is also directed on social and geographical diversity by way of a survey highlighting employees in the Danish film sector in terms of age, income, education, residence and family background.
Among the study’s main conclusions is that younger people are over-represented in the film industry compared to the overall Danish labour market, and that film workers mainly live in the capital city. However, these features are familiar from other countries and from research into the cultural economy in general.
The study, the first of its kind, will help to uncover whether structural barriers are keeping talented people out of the industry.
Published March 2018