Women's Cinema in Russia. Round table at Festival de Cannes

One of the main events of the Russian pavilion was the round table ‘Women’s Cinema in Russia’, held in partnership with the European Women Audiovisual Network (EWA).


The number of women involved in the Russian film industry is growing every year. Projects created by female directors, producers, cameramen, screenwriters and editors are winning prestigious awards and gaining recognition in Russia and abroad. Producers Natalya Drozd, Victoria Lupik, Tamara Bogdanova, director Ella Manzheeva, actress and director Svetlana Ustinova, CEO of ROSKINO Evgenia Markova discussed the role of women in the traditionally "male" industries of cinema and content production, as well as the evolution of the term "female cinema" in Russia. The discussion was moderated by Tamara Tatishvili, EWA Strategy Manager.

Conference in the Russian pavilion

Tamara Tatishvili (EWA Network), opening the panel, said:

‘Sometimes, especially outside Western Europe, people think that the problem of inequality is made up. However, female professionals face real difficulties in their work, for example, in obtaining funds for a project. The content creation process needs to be improved in line with the ideas of equity and accessibility. Not only in Russia, but in other countries as well, and fortunately, we can make this progress.’

Evgenia Markova, CEO of ROSKINO, stressed the importance of discussing the issue of women’s cinema:

´The tradition of female leadership in the Russian industry exists, and it is strong. Historically, women have played a very important role in filmmaking. However, nowadays I am getting more and more questions about female presence in the sphere of Russian content. It means that the time has come to open a new page in the history of women in cinematography, giving them the opportunity to talk about their own achievements and experiences. The solution to any problem begins with a discussion of its roots and key aspects. That is why we will talk about the role of women in the industry out loud, involving professionals who are ready to share their vision. The truth and the best solutions are always born with different points of view, allowing us to get the most complete picture of the topic. This is what we are striving for, and so far, one thing is certain – the global importance and significance of this agenda.’

Natalya Drozd, producer and mentor at EWA Network's Mentoring Programme for Women's Producers:

‘Speaking from a feminist point of view, there is certainly no gender balance among Russian producers and directors. But the trend towards increasing the professional presence of women in the industry is certainly noticeable. It doesn't matter to me whether the author of the film is a woman or a man. But there is no doubt that it is more difficult for women to make a breakthrough in our industry. A few years ago, all the key positions in Russian cinema were occupied exclusively by men. I am for rationality, that is, for reasonable feminism.’


Ella Manzheeva, director:

‘I think that talent is not defined by gender. Everyone has his own path. In art cinema, there are no rules or recipes. It is common to say that female directors earn less, but at the same time in Russia, they can afford not to work and live at the expense of men because of a patriarchal society. At the same time, it seems to me that women now have more opportunities to create, seek, doubt, observe. But gender definitely has nothing to do with the author's statement and does not affect his film language. «Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. There is no emptiness apart from form, and there is no form other than emptiness». These are the lines from the Heart Sutra, I think they are the best answer.’


Tamara Bogdanova, producer:

‘My company works with women very often. There are currently four projects in production, with women directors, screenwriters and cameramen involved. The time of women has come in the world cinema, which is a completely new approach to comprehending and creating history. We are all at the beginning of change!’

Svetlana Ustinova, actress, director:

´I would compare today's prime of female roles in cinematography to the Silver age of female poetry. Poems have become the ideal form of expression for women. And cinema is becoming the real poetry of our days. It is a great happiness to see more and more talented, unique women in the traditionally male professions of cameraman, director, production designer. Women are full of enthusiasm, ideas, courage and desire to reveal themselves in creativity, to be heard.’

Victoria Lupik, producer:

‘First of all, I would like to note how the situation has changed over the years – now there are many more women among students of cinema universities. Personally, I have never had the difficulty of misunderstanding my career choice, but I know that linear production is a rare profession among women. I must admit that I used to hear questions that cast doubt on my ability to work, but as soon as we sat down at the negotiating table, they disappeared. By chance, I really do work mostly with women – we made three films and started a company together – but I don't do it on purpose.’

Victoria Lupik_ElenaGlickman_NataliaDrozd_EvgeniaMarkova_SvetlanaUstinova_Tamara