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22 May 2017

WFTV (UK) brings together international voices at Making a Difference conference

WFTV, in association with the BFI, hosted more than 30 representatives of the international chapters of Women in Film at BFI Southbank, London last week.

Part of the event was a one day conference – Making a Difference – which looked at best practice in gender equality initiatives in film and TV around the world. More than 100 delegates joined the international chapters to contribute to a series of thought-provoking sessions.

Projects in the UK were discussed by Jennifer Smith, BFI; Seetha Kumar, Skillset; Nina Bhagwan, C4; and Paul Ashton, Creative England.

A worldwide perspective was provided by Patricia Watson, Executive Director of Women in Film, New Zealand; Alexis Alexanian, President of WIFT, New York; Monique Simard, President of SODEC, Canada; Yaba Holst, Feature Film Commissioner, Swedish Film Institute; and Amanda Neville, CEO, BFI.

In the afternoon, grass roots activism was explored with contributors including Hope Dickson Leach, Co-Founder, Raising Films; Holly Tarquini, Founder, F-Rated and Director, Bath Film Festival; Corrina Antrobus, Founder and Director, Bechdel Test Fest; Polly Kemp, Co-Founder, Equal Representation for Actresses; and Sophie Mathisen, Director, For Film’s Sake Festival and President WIFT, New South Wales.

An inspiring session on personal experiences followed with TV director Charlotte George talking about the schemes which had helped her break through (and those that didn’t); Dr. Emma El-Badawy, a Middle East specialist, spoke of benefitting from the BBC Academy BAME Expert Voices training, and  feature film producer Fiona Gillies spoke of her productive experience on the WFTV mid-career Mentoring Scheme.

Finally, WFTV CEO Kate Kinninmont chaired a panel to discuss looking at the way forward, with contributions from Anne Morrison, ex-Head, BBC Academy and Deputy Chair, BAFTA; Ali Bailey, Head of Campaigns, Directors’ UK; Amy Walker, Founder, Media Parents; and Jennifer Smith, Head of Diversity, BFI.

A highlight of the day was the launch of the Research Institute for Gender in Media (RIGM). Founded by Lyndsay Duthie and Kim Akass of the University of Hertfordshire, with Kate Kinninmont of WFTV,  and Dr. Jane Roscoe of the London Film School, the Institute aims to be a global network focusing on contemporary research on gender issues across the creative industries. Its Executive Board will also include Professor Sue Turnbull of the University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia and Professor Martha Nochimson of New York, USA.

As always at such events, many of the women present felt that the opportunity to network between sessions was almost as valuable as sharing the experiences and initiatives discussed during the sessions themselves. Overall, it was a fantastic and productive day and our thanks are due to the BFI for helping us to put the conference together.

Images by Laura Radford.