Improved gender balance in Danish film

Diversity. A long-term effort by the Danish Film Institute and the film industry to improve gender balance, both in front of and behind the camera, is bearing fruit.

Diversity in Danish film is an important area of focus for the Danish Film Institute. Creating space for as many voices and experiences as possible is essential to the continued development and innovation of cinema. 

At the heart of the endeavour are efforts aimed at improving gender balance, both in front of and behind the camera. Since 2016, the Danish Film Institute and the film industry have been striving in partnership to improve gender balance in Danish film by monitoring and awareness-raising. According to new figures from the Danish Film Institute, this long-term joint effort now appears to be bearing fruit.

In 2021, for the first time ever, as many female as male directors of features received funding under the Danish Film Institute’s Commissioner Scheme. Likewise, there is an equal distribution of male and female directors of films receiving funding for development and scriptwriting.

"In this core area, film funding, there is gender balance for the first time ever. The film industry has achieved a big and absolutely necessary accomplishment. It has been done not by legislation or quotas, but step by step through knowledge-sharing, strong partnerships and gentle nudging," says Danish Film Institute CEO Claus Ladegaard.

More applications and more leading roles

The figures also show that the Danish Film Institute is receiving a lot more applications from women directors than ever before. Since the rates of applications and grants are closely correlated, a separate goal has been to bring in more applications from women directors.

Features have seen an increase of women in leading roles. In 2021, 58% of leads in features were played by women, the highest rate ever recorded.

Self-reporting on gender

One monitoring effort that has been introduced is by production companies self-reporting on gender distribution. Paying attention to gender in relation to the different positions in front of and behind the camera is making production companies more aware of how the crews for their productions are staffed. 

Self-reporting was introduced in 2018 on a voluntarily basis and became mandatory in 2020. The figures are used solely to raise awareness within the film industry and are not included in the Danish Film Institute’s assessment of productions.

Continued efforts

The Danish Film Institute’s partnership with the film industry will continue, focusing on positions and schemes where gender inequality remains high, while consolidating efforts where gender balance has been achieved.

Read more in our short report on Gender in Danish film 2012-2021, which presents key figures on the distribution of feature film funding (Commissioner and Market Schemes), documentary funding (Commissioner Scheme) and talent funding (New Danish Screen).