WOMEN should be given more opportunities to write and direct to help address structural inequality in the film industry, according to the incoming chief executive of Glasgow Film Festival.

The call comes as the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) last week announced it is reviewing its voting process following criticism over the lack of female directors or black and minority ethnic actors in its main categories.

Allison Gardner, Glasgow Film Festival (GFF) programme director, above right, who will take over as the festival’s chief executive this April, said that while plenty of “brilliant films” by diverse writers and directors, more opportunities were needed if big box office draws were to be equally representative.

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In recent years, increasing attention has been given to structural inequalities in the film industry.

From the top 100 grossing Holywood films in 2019, 12% of directors were women and 20% were writers. The inequalities facing BAME women are far greater.

In the last 10 years, only two out of 50 Bafta nominations for best director were women – Kathryn Bigelow in 2013 and Lynne Ramsay in 2012, both white.

However, in Scottish film festivals over the coming weeks, work by – and about – women is being celebrated.

Last week, GFF announced it will open with Proxima, a film written and directed by Alice Wincour and starring Eva Green as an astronaut struggling with the wrench of leaving her daughter behind as she prepares for space travel.

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Its closing gala on March 8 – International Women’s Day – will feature How To Build A Girl, the film based on the semi-autobiographical book of the same name by Caitlin Moran, right, directed by Coky Giedroyc and starring Beanie Feldstein. The acclaimed festival – now in its 16th year – opens just days after Femspectives, a three-day feminist film festival which has doubled since size since its inaugural event last year.

Gardner claimed the films were a natural choice to bookend the festival, which has long supported women in film and featured a gender-balanced and diverse programme. “For us, that’s not really anything new,” she said. “And the two films – Proxima and How To Build A Girl – are simply really, really good.”

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The festival will feature a range of films by women directors and a photography exhibition by Susan Wood, the set photographer on Easy Rider.

But Gardner claims that while festivals programming “alternative” world cinema made diverse films easier to find, there was still a need to take on structure inequality in the industry.

“Ten per cent of feature films are made by women, so that’s tough,” she said. “We need to change those structures. Women are just not having the same opportunities.

“Where’s the support for great women writers, for example, because great films only come from great scripts.

She added: “The problem with those Golden Globes and Bafta-type awards is that they are all looking at the same small pool of films.

“I’m not in charge of who writes the script, who gets the money – I have no power there.

But I can make steps in my own area. I can think about what we show and dig a bit deeper to make sure we show great films by women and diverse voices.”

She insisted that there were lots of reasons to be optimistic about the future of film-making. On Friday, a new study by the Centre for the Study of Women in Television and Film found a record 40% of 2019’s highest-grossing US movies had a woman in a lead role.

“I do think it will change,” she added. “But it can time to come to fruition. There was a time when there was no such thing as a black superhero movie, for example, and that changed.

“The people who are in charge now – the Harvey Weinsteins are older or are gone. And there will be a new, hopefully more open, generation coming through who are in charge. I’m an internal optimist.”

Last Monday, Weinstein appeared in court in New York on charges of rape and sexual assault. Although he has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 80 women, he faces charges related to only two of them.

Kathi Kamleitner, co-founder and co-producer of Femspectives which runs from February 20-23, said that she was encouraged by the growing awareness of structural inequality in the film industry. The festival aims to contextualise them, with after-show discussions exploring feminists themes raised by the films. Highlights include Vai, a feature film by nine female Pacific film-makers and filmed on seven Pacific islands, as well as Lindy Heymann’s I Told My Mum I Was On An R.E. Trip, featuring re-enacted interviews with women who have had an abortion.

“It’s good to see there’s more awareness of the gender gap,” she said. “For us, it’s really great because it shows how much need there is for these conversations to be had. The only way to change anything is to point out that there’s an issue.”