Updated study of gender distribution in Danish film

Diversity. There is still gender imbalance in Danish film, especially in feature-film production, a Danish Film Institute study shows. The Danish Film Institute and the industry organisations agree that heightened awareness remains essential to putting more women in front of and behind the camera.

Over the last few years, the Danish Film Institute has worked with the film industry’s organisations to create greater diversity in Danish film. A key part of the effort is the collection and sharing of knowledge to support new, targeted initiatives.

The first version of the 2020 report on gender (from June) was recently updated with fresh figures on the audience, adding to the preliminary report's insights into the gender balance off screen and on screen.

Key conclusions

The full report, Study of gender distribution in Danish film 2020 (in Danish), has now been updated with an English summary, outlining these key conclusions: 

Behind the camera:

  • While there is gender balance in the Danish labour market overall, the share of women employed in Danish film is about 40%, and just 30% in film production.
  • In the various off screen occupations, gender distribution varies widely. While there are roughly as many female as male set designers, producers and editors, only one in three directors and screenwriters is a woman. 
  • One in four projects applying for and receiving Danish Film Institute funding for a feature film has a woman as a director or screenwriter, while every other such project has a female producer.
  • In documentaries, nearly half of the projects applying for and receiving funding have a female director, while three in four projects have a female producer.
  • There is no gender imbalance in the level of Danish Film Institute funding for features or documentaries. 

Education and decision makers:

  • The gender distribution of students across the film education programmes is balanced, though the proportions vary widely at individual schools and programmes.
  • In terms of decision makers, there is gender balance at film festivals and in the funding bodies, while men are over-represented among film critics, on boards, in the National Film School’s management and on the Danish Film Institute’s board.

On screen:

  • Regarding features, more women are playing lead roles in Danish films today than in the past. In the 2016-2019 period, about 40% of all leads and supporting roles in Danish films were played by women.
  • As for characters in documentaries, the gender distribution corresponds to the national average.


  • Especially men under 35 are active cinemagoers, as more than every third person in the age group goes to the cinema monthly or more. 
  • Women in the mature age groups go to the cinema more often than men, especially from 66 and upwards.
  •  Almost 60% of the women in the survey have seen more than five Danish films in the 2016-18 period.

Gender balance is still a long way off 

Both the Danish Film Institute and the industry organisations are closely tracking the trend in the gender balance of Danish film. There is agreement that the present study underscores the need of continued awareness and efforts.


Kirsten Barslund
Project manager
Tel. +45 3374 3526

Commenting the study in its preliminary version in June, Claus Ladegaard, CEO of the Danish Film Institute, said:

"It’s our ambition for Danish film to embrace many different experiences, voices and views on being human today. Only by strengthening diversity can we ensure innovation and quality in Danish film, and make the films resonate with audiences. This study is cause for optimism, while showing us where the obstacles lie in terms of gender. There are simply weak links in the food chain that we must mend. In particular, there are too few women in the production link.

"Our close partnership with the industry in recent years in sharing knowledge and launching concrete initiatives has created a positive trend. We now need to ramp up these efforts based on the new knowledge."


The Danish Film Institute works actively with the film industry to promote and develop a diverse film culture in Denmark.

The aim of these efforts is that Danish film should be representative of the population. Plus, greater diversity increases the number of qualified applicants for film funding, helping to ensure the quality and innovation of Danish films.

'Study of gender distribution in Danish film 2020' updates a corresponding study published in 2016. It includes data on the gender distribution in various occupations within the film industry and among film students, in the Danish Film Institute’s funding schemes, in film casts, among decision makers and among the audience. Read English summary.