To launch the Kering and Festival de Cannes Women in Motion programme, Variety magazine sat down with actor, producer and director Jodie Foster to hear about her experience as a woman in the entertainment industry. Having had roles since the age of three, Foster has witnessed over fifty years of industry shifts and developments. She spoke of the gender gaps which shape the industry.
Having not been aware of women on set for so long, apart from those playing her mother character, Foster says: “Everything changed... It felt like real life when women came on movie sets; they became healthier”.
She speaks on what is missing in the industry in terms of equal gender representation, why it is missing, and where we are today. Foster states that “Studio executives are scared, period,” because hiring a woman is perceived as a financial risk. “Film is where art and commerce come together, and it really is just risk development.”
Nevertheless, she notes the expanding opportunities for women in television production due to the relatively low financial risk compared with film. She believes we should foster a complex discussion on gender issues because of a lack of diversity in the industry. This would expand both opportunities for women in the industry and deeper narrative construction in film and television.
Foster quips, men have an inability to connect with the female characters they create, subsequently leading to a less diverse range of character arcs. She acknowledges the deep relationships women can establish with others (a motherly characteristic) and attributes these features to women’s ability to develop powerful characters.
Therefore, she proclaims that “If you bring a woman into the process and make it a comfortable arena, they will be able to be successful.” She believes, however, that while many more women have joined the scene, there is definitely room for expansion.
Overall, while Foster acknowledges the importance of these issues, she encourages us to persevere: “If what you are is an artist, you just do it and you go on.”
The aim of the ‘Women in Motion’ programme is to stimulate discussion and encourage reflection on the place of women in the film industry, both on and off the screen. Launched in May 2015 as part of the partnership between Kering and the Festival de Cannes, ‘Women in Motion’ is now an integral part of the Festival’s official programme. The programme features two fundamental components: the Talks, which are a series of open interviews with one or several guests, which take place throughout the duration of the Festival, to create a platform for considering and exchanging views on the multi-faceted issue of women in the film industry; and the ‘Women in Motion’ Awards, presented each year to an iconic figure and to one or several up-and-coming talents at the Festival de Cannes “Presidential Dinner”.
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