The ‘unfair’ gender neutral film awards get a second chance tonight

So tonight again no prize for best actor or actress, but best leading or supporting role. And next week the Televiziergala will also have a gender-neutral prize for television presenters.

‘Moving along with the zeitgeist’, was what the organization of the Golden Calves called it last year, after which a major discussion broke out in the film world. This is too soon, critics keep saying, there is still too much inequality between men and women.

‘More chance for white straight man’

For example, Fedja van Huêt, last year’s winner of the most important Golden Calf, best leading role in a feature film, made himself heard. Last month he said in Het Parool that he thinks the recognition for his acting is ‘great’, but that he would approach the award ceremony differently.

“I understand the idea of ​​no longer distinguishing between roles for women and men, it was decided with good thought, but I would have preferred more awards. […] Most roles still go to straight white men. If you are a woman there are fewer, if you are black even less. That really needs to change.”

Last year, actor Katja Herbers wrote off her frustration on Twitter. Her tweet was often quoted afterwards.

Very slight shift

Recent research into the position of women in the Dutch film and television sector confirms that inequality still exists. Utrecht University counted from almost 2500 fiction and documentary productions from 2011-2020 how many women and men were involved in leadership positions and in leading and supporting roles.

The conclusion: the past ten years has seen a very slight shift towards greater equality. But overall, men are dominant (69.6 percent) when it comes to leadership roles and lead and supporting roles. 40% of the lead and supporting roles are women. And: the more expensive and longer a production, the fewer women are involved and the more men.

Manouschka Zeegelaar Breeveld, actor and chairman of ACT Acteursbelangen, supports the decision to make the film awards gender neutral. Ultimately, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, she says.

For example, attention is now being paid to the underlying problem, inequality. She also points to an increasing group of people who do not identify as male or female. At least they qualify now.

‘Positive discrimination still needed’

Rosemarie Buikema, professor of Art, Culture and Diversity at Utrecht University, thinks it is too early. “The problem is that we are not yet that far in society and the film world. We have to catch up first. As long as that doesn’t happen, positive discrimination with separate categories is still important.”

What then has to change? More serious roles for women, for example, says Buikema. “Roles are often still very masculine or feminine. Female leading roles are often about the more feminine themes. That has to be broken first.”

This has to be done in the workplace and by screenwriters. “You can adjust the prices, but if there is no policy at that level, it doesn’t make much sense.”

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