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EFM issues a Call to Action for Diversity and Inclusion in European Business

The European Film Market (EFM) is hosting a day-long event on diversity, equality and inclusion on 16 February, bringing together a range of industry stakeholders in an effort to set an agenda for better representation – both on and off screen – in Europe’s film and television industries.

The Equity and Inclusion Pathways Symposium will bring together nearly 100 industry professionals from 21 countries, representing both their respective media industries as well as regional and European organizations and advocacy groups working for greater diversity and inclusion.

By bringing European decision-makers and advocacy bodies together at one table, the organizers hope to bring “sustainable and lasting change” to Europe’s screen industries by “bringing[ing] on making better policies, measures and initiatives in terms of inclusion, equity and accessibility”, according to Faisal Omar, EFM’s Head of Producers.

Co-funded by the European Union’s Creative Europe – MEDIA programme, this year’s symposium will be the first of three annual events to take place during the European Film Market through 2025.

The initiative was conceived in part as a response to the killing of George Floyd and other events that spurred the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement in the United States.

“Faisal and I were struck by the momentum of the global uprisings of summer 2020, but also by the apparent disconnect that we as black Europeans and film industry professionals are witnessing in the European film industry’s response or, in many cases, the lack of response,” said Themba Bahibeh, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at EFM. “A lot of rants were paid, and there were a ton of open letters, but we didn’t feel like the industry really got the memo.”

Around that time, the European Film Anti-Racism Task Force (ARTEF) was launched, which brought together stakeholders from across the continent’s screen industries for a series of workshops led by Emilia Roig, founder of the Berlin-based Center for Intersectional Justice. Omar said their goal was to “create greater awareness of the reality of systemic racism in film.

He added, “During these workshops, we realized, basically, that many had caught up to the zeitgeist and could no longer ignore or deny the existence of structural racism.” “Now is definitely the time to set the agenda in terms of equity, inclusion and access.”

This week’s symposium will feature a combination of keynotes, presentations, talks and discussions, followed by a vote to determine five sweeping decisions for assembled industry representatives focused on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility.

“The call to action will include a commitment by all concerned to further the goals articulated in those resolutions, to hold accountable, and to invest time and resources to make them a reality,” Omar said.

The sessions will be moderated by science journalist, TV documentary maker and Professor John Kantara. Yolanda Rother, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Specialist and Consultant, as well as Conference Coordinator, Community Activist and Speaker who moderated the Framing of Us interactive format at EFM last year; Adriana Chartrand, President, Television Canada and Indigenous Initiatives and Content Analyst, who previously worked for several years at imagineNATIVE, the world’s largest Indigenous film festival in Toronto; and European Film Academy director Matthijs Wouter-Knoll, who was also the main driving force behind ARTEF.

Key points on the agenda include a session led by Charlie Hidalgo and Lucy Mukerji, of the Misrepresentation group, which will address problematic representations of underrepresented groups on screen, with a particular focus on the trans community. The Stereotype Project will highlight its groundbreaking application that boasts a comprehensive database of countless harmful stereotypes that can appear on screen and is able to analyze scripts to determine their use. ARTEF will also present a case study on how to combat harmful indigenous-focused metaphors in films.

Meanwhile, Téléfilm Canada’s Chartrand will moderate a session focusing on the impact of organizations such as the Indigenous Screen Desk and the Black Screen Desk, as well as funding structures within larger organizations such as the Canada Media Fund and Téléfilm Canada.

Finally, the European spotlight will highlight the work of organizations such as ARTEF, the New Dawn Film Fund and France’s Collectif 5050. RomaTrial, which advocates on behalf of Europe’s largest ethnic group, the Roma people, and organizes Ake Dikhea? Roma Film Festival, the theater will also partner with the Sami International Film Institute, whose pioneering work for more than a decade has fueled a new wave of productions by Sami cinematic creators.

The event builds on the European Film Market’s concerted efforts in recent years to bring acting to the forefront of the conversation for film and television professionals. Manu Gudit, EFM’s Head of Strategic Development and Partnerships and Program Head at EFM Industry Sessions, pointed to a series of think tanks hosted within the EFM framework that are designed to “unpack, brainstorm and provide practical solutions to contemporary challenges and issues found in film and television,” from Among them is how to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the European creative industries.

“I would be in denial if I did not acknowledge the extent to which many European countries still struggle to acknowledge the diverse realities of their society,” said Judit. “I also believe that outside the United States, including here in Europe, there is an abundance of organizations that are doing groundbreaking work to advance the interests of marginalized film professionals.”

“There is a sense of urgency,” Omar added. “Europe has been behind in the talks and its policies for a long time, but the gap is narrowing very quickly.”

(Pictured: Themba with his love, Faisal Omar, Manu Gudit)


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