Film board chair hits out at IFTA award gender imbalance

The chairwoman of the Irish Film Board (IFB) has said she is disappointed at the gender imbalance across the nominations for this year’s Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA) Awards, writes Joe Leogue.

Annie Doona made the comments following the announcement of the 2017 IFTA shortlist, which saw five men nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role, compared to just three actresses in the corresponding female category.

IFTA CEO Aine Moriarty previously told the Irish Examiner that the difference between the two categories is reflective of the film industry, and that the past year saw few films in which women were given a leading role.

Annie Doona. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan

Responding to this, Ms Doona said she was disappointed with the discrepancies.

“We are all aware that there is a gender imbalance within the industry and we at the IFB remain steadfastly committed to addressing this issue,” she said.

“Achieving 50/50 gender equality within the sector remains an utmost priority for the IFB and we have undertaken a number of measures to ensure that Irish female talent is encouraged and visible within the industry.

“It is vitally important that the stories Irish films portray represent a contemporary image of Ireland in all its diversity, inclusivity and originality of voice.

“In December 2015, we launched our Six Point Plan on Gender Equality, detailing a number of measures to monitor and enhance gender representation across the sector.

“At last year’s Galway Film Fleadh, we furthered our commitment to achieving 50/50 gender equality by announcing a number of groundbreaking initiatives to support and encourage female talent.

“We acknowledge that this shift cannot happen overnight and it is important to remember that we can only fund what we receive. We must continue to implore and encourage Irish creative female talent to apply so that these goals can be achieved.”

Ms Doona said the last year alone saw success for Co Cork’s Nora Twomey with her Golden Globe-nominated animated feature, The Breadwinner, and Emer Reynolds with her critically acclaimed feature documentary, The Farthest.

“In 2018, a host of female-led Irish films will come to the fore, including Twomey’s aforementioned The Breadwinner, Carmel Winters’ Float Like A Butterfly, Aoife McArdle’s Kissing Candice, Mary McGuckian’s A Girl From Mogadishu and Alexandra McGuinness’s Highway alongside the Katie Holly-produced Irish co-production Vita & Virginia and Sinéad O’Shea’s documentary, A Mother Brings Her Son To Be Shot.

“These upcoming titles prove that this imbalance is shifting and it is a shift we will unyieldingly support. We hope that at next year’s awards, female talent will be equally represented and offered the recognition it truly deserves,” she said.

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