10/23/2017.- The 62nd edition of the Valladolid International Film Festival opened the debate on women in Spanish cinema. On the Festival’s third day, Monday, October 23rd, it held a forum in which a large number of women related to the film industry participated. As an innovative initiative in this festival it was completed with a round table discussion and began with a forum, held behind closed doors, from which a large number of conclusions and proposals were drawn.
The round table discussion had a total of twelve women, with different positions and ages, all of them film professionals. The encounter served to reflect on the role of women in the Spanish film industry and “to learn, through different experiences, how this sector really is,” as Jara Yáñez, editor in the magazine Caimán. Cuadernos de cine [Caiman: Notebooks on Cinema], claimed during the introduction.
“It is difficult to be heard and above all, it is complicated to make sure others listen by nature of being a woman.” Thus explained the art director of films like A Monster Calls and Lágrimas negras [Black Tears], Pilar Revuelta. According to her, this is the reality for women within their craft, based on their own experiences. In addition, director of photography Raquel Fernández corroborated Revuelta’s remarks, adding, “women in cinema are always questioned.”
Ana Gracia, one of the most nationally recognized actresses for her work in television series such as Hospital Central [Central Hospital], or in feature films like Camino [The Way]: “if right now it is very difficult to be actor, being an actress is even harder. In addition, at present, television is a machine that chews and spits people out; actors are used and then discarded.
Attendees have learned the stories of various professionals of the world of cinema, from which several points can be drawn in common, and on which several conclusions were reached.
The first one is that “cinema does not reflect reality, reality is much further ahead of fiction,” an idea pointed out by the director of Insomnio [Sleepless in Madrid] and El Calentito, Chus Gutiérrez. All of the women at the roundtable discussion agreed with Gutiérrez. The screenwriter of feature films such as La vida de los peces [The Life of Fish], Coral Cruz, pointed out that “only 12% of screenwriters are not men,” which affects this issue, since “the content of films and series reflects who we are.”
The second conclusion reached has to do with the importance of education. “This is the problem, and it is where many places, like Spain, fail. It is the most important radical problem,” said editor and photographer Julia Juaniz, who encourages all women “to keep fighting.” It is a struggle that has to continue from schools to any job or any area of life, because it is “very important to implement a vision of gender identity in all fields,” explained Amanda Villavieja.
Despite the scarce parity in this issue within the Spanish film industry, there are certain professions in which women are more present than men. This is the case for jobs such as that of Rosa Estévez, casting director for series such as El Príncipe [The Prince], or of Patricia Monné, costume designer.
These are positions that, together with makeup and hairdressing, have “a higher percentage of women than men” working in them, according to the costume designer of No habrá paz para los malvados [No Rest for the Wicked]. She also pointed out “the enslavement of woman to the ideal of being eternally young.” Estévez stressed that, in the case of casting professionals for fictitious films or series, “this is because it is a fairly new field.”
Despite some exceptions, like the aforementioned professions, “we have a lot of work ahead of us. Women should try to be more present in forums, committees, and decision-making boards to make them more equal, “said María Zamora, a producer who has been in charge of films such as La Venganza [Revenge] o Verano 1993 [Summer 1993]. She also proposed, for the next edition of Seminci, that this roundtable discussion happen again, and that this time men take part in it as well.