Beyond the Habitual: Gender balance in the Nordic Film releases

Alexia Muiños Ruiz
Alexia Muiños Ruiz

New statistics presented at the Gothenburg Film Festival show that among the 98 Nordic films that premiered in 2012, only one had women in all key positions, behind and in front of the camera.

Here we share an excerpt of Terese Martinsson's thesis: Beyond the Habitual Studying the gender balance in the Nordic feature film releases of 2012


"With the feature film releases of the Nordic countries in 2012 as a starting point, the thesis tentatively disserts the gender balance among lead roles and key positions of 98 films. A quantitative method is used for data on gender shares. The qualitative part of the study is a narrative analysis of the plot summaries. Both the quantitative and qualitative material proved gender imbalance, according to who made the films, as well as who were portrayed. Men held an average of 78% of the key positions and 64% of the lead roles. In general, women were depicted in more passive positions or were active subjects in relation to men. The dominant and active male subject are found in all discourses in the qualitative study, which may connect to the dominance of male filmmakers and the normalisation of men as both consumers and narrative protagonists.


The starting point of the study is data on the releases of feature films in the five Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) during 2012, and plot summaries totalling of 98 films. The result is a comparing study of the Nordic countries: on the one hand a quantitative, looking at the gender balance among the key positions (director, producer and scriptwriter), related to the balance among the lead roles. On the other hand a qualitative; what is shown on the silver screen3 analysed through narrative analysis of plot summaries.

Apart from the gender distribution on key positions and in lead roles, the problem statements to be examined are as follows:

 What similarities, differences and patterns can be found in the quantitative material?

 Which discourses on gender can be deduced by themes, stereotypes and/or motives in the qualitative material, and what depictions stay in the margin?

 How can an uneven gender balance among the key positions be related to the content of the films?


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