Filmmaker Alice Foulcher on gender imbalance within the Australian feature film industry

Alice Foulcher

Australian filmmaker Alice Foulcher addresses the gender imbalance within the Australian feature film industry. Her stats prove the industry is still in need of a massive wakeup call.

Cinema Australia invites all readers and the Australian filmmaking community to have their say on the matter by leaving comments in the comments section below, or by getting in touch via cinemaaustralia@gmail.com.

“We just want a seat at the fucking table.”


Article by
Alice Foulcher

A few days ago I came across an article (link: https://www.flicks.com.au/features/the-significance-of-stans-first-original-film-the-second-and-the-need-for-more-female-driven-australian-films/) referring to Mairi Cameron’s The Second as the first Australian film of the year to be “led by a complex female figure”. Although the article is paid for by Stan to spruik The Second, Ward raises some really good points here:

“Across the first six months of 2018, Australian features have explored the exploits of men trying to win barbecuing contests (The BBQ), teenage boys learning to surf (Breath), a father attempting to save his infant daughter from a zombie pandemic (Cargo) and two brothers plotting to kill their stepfather to secure their inheritance (Brothers’ Nest). A group of comedians, mostly men, have palled around at a party telling each other their funniest jokes (in That’s Not My Dog!). Three families have navigated the swinging ‘70s, each led by madcap patriarchs (Swinging Safari) and Australia’s colonial past, as well as the country’s historical treatment of its Indigenous population, came to the fore when an Aboriginal stockman tried to protect his wife from an abusive station owner (Sweet Country).”

I began searching for some stats on what Australian films have been released this year – to find what films might’ve been missed. I couldn’t find any such stats, so I began compiling them myself, and with the help of others on social media.

Here’s where we got to. I, and Cinema Australia, welcome additions, suggestions, feedback if you think we’ve missed a film or got something wrong.

AUSTRALIAN FICTION FILMS RELEASED/TO BE RELEASED* IN 2018:
* theatrically released at cinemas (beyond a handful of special event screenings)

MALE LEAD CHARACTER:
Breath (Simon Baker)
The BBQ (Stephen Amis)
Brother’s Nest (Clayton Jacobson)
Sweet Country (Warwick Thornton)
Cargo (Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke)
Boar (Chris Sun)
Chasing Comets (Jason Perini)
That’s Not My Dog! (Dean Murphy)
West of Sunshine (Jason Raftopoulos)
1% (Stephen McCallum)
Hotel Mumbai (Anthony Maras)
Slam (Partho Sen-Gupta)
The Merger (Mark Grentell)
Occupation (Luke Sparke)
Peter Rabbit (Will Gluck)
Akoni (Genna Channelle Hayes)
Acute Misfortune (Thomas M. Wright)
Upgrade (Leigh Whannell)

NB: Some of these films have supporting female characters, but the male leads are billed first and the story centres around their plot (eg The BBQ).

FEMALE LEAD CHARACTER:
The Second (Mairi Cameron)
Undertow (Miranda Nation)
The Flip Side (Marion Pilowsky)
Ladies in Black (Bruce Beresford)
Maya The Bee: The Honey Games (Noel Cleary, Sergio Defino)
Strange Colours (Alena Lodkina)
The Gateway (John V. Soto)
Just Between Us (Christopher Kay)

ON THE FENCE:
Swinging Safari (Stefan Elliot) – fairly evenly split, though still seen through the eyes of a young boy
Little Monsters (Abe Forsyth) – hard to tell from synopsis and material available whose story it will be predominantly

DIRECTORS
That’s a total of 28 films:
21 male directors, 3 male co-directors
VS
5 female directors, 1 female co-director

I don’t want to grand stand about what a boy’s club our industry is. I did that in 2014. (link: http://junkee.com/film-and-tv-remain-a-boys-club-and-it-needs-to-stop/32664) It’s exhausting trying to find the right language to convince people that this is a problem. The stats still speak for themselves.

We are still an industry made up of predominantly male directors telling stories led by male actors. This is why our funding bodies have implemented initiatives such as Gender Matters – because it’s 2018 and we aren’t seeing a damn difference. We just want a seat at the fucking table.

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3 thoughts on “Filmmaker Alice Foulcher on gender imbalance within the Australian feature film industry

  1. Perhaps more women need to be applying for film funding.

    Do you have any stats on number of men who apply for funding vs. number of women?

    This definitely needs to be taken into consideration, not automatic funding because of a perceived gender imbalance.

    • Page 17 of the document you linked (Successful Applications) suggests that women are generally OVER represented. Would you support more opportunities being given to men, since equality is what we are really seeking here?

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