Interview with Tove Torbiörnsson and Kicki Kjellin

Interview with Tove Torbiörnsson (Head of Department Film/Society Swedish Film Institute) and Kicki Kjellin (Director)

As the Swedish Film Institute already has a film agreement in place, which stipulates that funding shall be divided equally between women and men why are more initiatives still required to ensure that there is greater gender equality in the film industry? (You can check here for the 2013 version)

In order to ensure that gender equality is firmly in place it is necessary to take actions on many different levels. One of these, for example, is revisiting the archive canon of films. The SFI currently has an archival project, which will unearth all of those films by female directors which have lied buried across the Nordic territories over the years. The website will include female filmworkers in many aspects. Not only directors. No-one should be able to say that there are no role models and so this website will also serve to create role models.

For example, when I (Tove Torbiörnsson) was working at film school there was a poster of the 100 films you had to see and one of them was directed by a woman! This must change. Another industry challenge for women is how to make their second and third films and continue their artistic lives. “Moviement” is a training course, initiated by the SFI, which educates professionals in gender and leadership and gives them tools and knowledge to see and differentiate what is a structural problem and what is not. An important part is also to create a strong collegial network. We call Moviement a collegial change programme. The programme involves 15 participants and they either meet as a whole group or in smaller groups of three.

How is “Moviement” different from traditional mentoring?

The choice of trainers is important. We have identified five more experienced film directors to make sure that the tripartite meetings are as successful as possible. Of the participants themselves, ten have made one film and five more than 3 films. The course has been running since last spring and director Kicki Kjellin is one of those filmmakers who have participated in the course. The course itself is organised on the basis of an initial 10-day training period and then follow-on gatherings. The moviementers also meet financiers and distributors in special sessions with the purpose of discussing findings and strategies.

Who is delivering the training?

One of the experts is Anna Wahl, a professor in gender and organization in the Institute of KTH, Royal Institute of Technology. She is a famous expert in Sweden and has been involved in gender training for many years. The participants also made a two day workshop called Man for a Day led by Diane Torr.

Kicki – how did you find the training course?

I feel the course has given me an enormous amount. That in a context of 15 female directors to get to be taught by one of Sweden’s foremost gender professors has been a privilege. We have all learned a lot about how we can build our own strategies on leadership in a very male-dominated world in which to interpretation unfortunately does not always fall in our favour.  And to get create this unique network with my talented colleagues is a favour. Alone we are weak, but together we are stronger.

What can we expect from the next round of “Moviement” training, Tove?

Instead of delivering the course to female directors only, it may now be delivered also to scriptwriters, producers, and both men and women. It is an excellent way of having a new platform to share information and raising awareness of the importance of gender equality with both sexes. Knowledge is the tool for a long-lasting change.

Could you tell me more about other gender training initiatives in Sweden?

Yes, for example Erna Sundquist has been delivering training to film commissioners, at the Swedish Film Institute but also to companies such as Volvo. Her pioneering work with commissioners includes training decision-makers to question their motivations for choosing a project.

Tove mentioned that she saw a difference in the way her decision-making colleagues interpreted projects after this useful training course, in particular vis-à-vis films directed by women. This is a best practice initiative that would be very powerful to export throughout Europe – namely making sure that decision-makers themselves are trained in gender equality and cultural diversity so that they can make the most enlightened decisions.