Welcome to Deadline’s International Disruptors, a function the place we’ll shine a highlight on key executives and corporations outdoors of the U.S. shaking up the offshore market. This week, we’re speaking to Swedish Film Institute CEO Anna Serner, who’s stepping down after 10 years within the position. Serner has been massively influential in tackling inequality for girls within the movie business and is thought for her trailblazing gender parity initiative “50/50 by 2020.” Here, Serner displays on her tenure and why small steps ahead can equate to large change.
Long earlier than #MeToo was a trending hashtag or Time’s Up existed as a corporation, Swedish Film Institute head Anna Serner was busy serving her personal native movie business a tall order of reform within the gender parity area.
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The Stockholm-born exec, who grew to become CEO of the state-backed movie promotional and funding physique in 2011, was appalled when she got here into workplace and located solely 32% of SFI’s options have been produced by girls and simply 26% of movies funded have been directed by girls. Statistics in Sweden had proven that between 2000 and 2012, 70% to 90% of all Swedish movie productions have been sometimes directed by males in any given 12 months.
“It was a catastrophe,” recollects Serner. “We had to change it. I gave myself half a year to understand why and find out what the real obstacles for women were and then I presented an action plan. I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do – I wanted to achieve 50/50 and I just hoped the industry would help me because I am not afraid of progress.”
Anyone who is aware of Serner is aware of this to be true: she’s a girl who’s value-driven and acutely conscious that actions communicate louder than phrases. When she steps down from her position this week, after a decade-long stint as SFI’s CEO, her lasting legacy shall be her pioneering “50/50 by 2020” initiative. The motion plan was a resolute name for equal illustration and feminine management within the Swedish movie business by 2020. Since she first launched it in 2012, it not solely grew to turn into one thing that permeates all the selections the SFI now does, but additionally, crucially it labored.
By 2014, the bold goal was met and half of the movies that the SFI supported have been made by girls that 12 months whereas in 2016 the female-led tasks it backed grew to 64%. It’s a shining instance of how systemic buildings will be damaged down when the decision-makers really motion change.
Many members of the worldwide movie group will largely bear in mind Serner’s launch of the 50/50 by 2020 initiative in Cannes in 2016 however Serner says the corporate truly launched it on the Croisette in 2013. Concerned that the individuals she needed to achieve wouldn’t come to a gender equality presentation, the initiative was introduced at SFI’s fiftieth anniversary seaside social gathering on the competition that 12 months.
“A lot of journalists came and I presented our action plan but they didn’t write anything,” she recollects. Turnout for the social gathering was so excessive but it surely appeared gender equality wasn’t on the agenda for a lot of attendees. Ironically, safety on the door even needed to flip away Harvey Weinstein due to the occasion was over capability.
“Can you imagine?,” laughs Serner. “The guards didn’t know who he was, I really didn’t either – but he was very pissed off.”
Serner’s daring 50/50 by 2020 initiative was put into place with out utilizing quotas and as an alternative, particular person commissioners have been required to make the case for why a undertaking ought to obtain funding by assessing its high quality, which they outlined primarily based on “relevance, originiality and craft.” They additionally needed each movie to move the Bechdel take a look at, which implies a undertaking should have not less than two named feminine characters who speak to one another about one thing apart from a person.
“We had to work a lot with the artistic decision makers to create a language for them about what quality really means,” says Serner. “Their arguments for why we should fund a film were always based on emotions so using the criteria of ‘relevance, originality and craft’ helped them to rise a bit above the subjective opinionated feelings.”
SFI-backed titles that noticed worldwide success throughout Serner’s time embody Ruben Ostlund’s Palme d’Or winner The Square, Amanda Kernell’s Sami Blood, Niki Lindroth von Bahr’s The Burden, Rojda Sekersöz’s My Life As A Comedian and Tarik Saleh’s The Nile Hilton Incident.
Serner’s steadfast ambition to alter the panorama inside her personal nation’s movie world stems deep. Raised in a household of teachers, she grew up in an setting the place conversations about justice and equality have been the norm. When she completed highschool, she determined to enter movie faculty to review movie science.
“I was very young,” recollects Serner. “But I realized quite quickly how there were a lot of hidden power structures in the school. It was all the guys picking their teams and they only picked the girls they liked or the girls they wanted to have sex with. I realized that this was not my cup of tea and would end up having to line-up making coffee for years.”
She pivoted and went to legislation faculty and have become a lawyer on the Advertising Associate of Sweden. When the CEO of that firm left abruptly, Serner despatched a letter to the chairman on the board to element the type of individual the corporate would want to steer the ship. Impressed along with her opinions, he employed Serner in a surprize transfer because the CEO at simply 34.
“The first thing that happened in that job was that I was called up by a reporter from a trade magazine who said they had discovered that we’d made a salary survey in the advertising industry and that women earn less in the same positions,” she says. “And I responded, ‘yes, it’s shit.’ I thought everyone understood that women didn’t have the same opportunities. A few days later, the headline ran ‘It’s Shit, Says Anna Serner’. I was kind of out of the closet, but I wasn’t scared about it.”
She provides, “For me, I never saw that talking about obvious stuff would be threatening or strange, but I realized pretty soon that I was very alone and that women in leadership rarely talk about themselves being labelled the ‘weak’ gender. They typically don’t like to see themselves as victims of a structure but I don’t have a problem with that. I never hesitated to be a feminist.”
Serner went on to spend 10 years at that firm after which went onto run her personal advertising and marketing communications company. After that, she grew to become managing director on the Swedish Media Publishers’ Association, the place she was lively in public debate on the liberty of speech and media’s place in society.
“When I was approached for the job at the Swedish Film Institute, I told them you must understand that I am a profiled feminist leader and I’m not willing to not talk about this so if you don’t want me to talk about feminism or gender equality, don’t pick me,” she says.
Indeed, when Serner started to resow the panorama for the Swedish movie enterprise, it ruffled some feathers – “a lot of dudes were mad because they didn’t get same money” – however for her, that comes with the territory.
“When it comes to talking about gender equality, it’s very important to everyone and everyone believes in it as long as it’s out there somewhere,” she says. “But when you do get it in your lap and it starts burning, then you’re not happy with it.”
Indeed, a few of Serner’s critics in Sweden have urged she places an excessive amount of emphasis on gender parity and in Cannes 2018 there was commotion round her suggestion that if SFI’s funding for its extra business tasks didn’t go to any feminine administrators or producers the next 12 months, in 2020 all that funding could be dished out to girls solely.
But change is nearly at all times uncomfortable and Serner’s trailblazing efforts have since created a ripple impact all through the worldwide movie area, inspiring different nations and corporations to verify their gender parity standing. She has turn into a world skilled and fashionable speaker with reference to gender equality within the movie enterprise.
Looking on the present local weather, Serner is proud of how far issues have come for not solely girls however for individuals of all various backgrounds within the movie world, however “there’s definitely much room for improvement.”
“I really want everyone to start entrusting women with bigger budget films, because it’s the bigger budget films that reach a larger audience,” she says. “It’s time that those [decision-makers] with bigger budgets understand that they have to be more inclusive. When you see the big streaming providers like Netflix and Disney+ having these strict diversity policies that are really demanding diversity and change, it’s really amazing to see. The new industry is taking this seriously, but the old industry needs to change.”
This week, Serner steps down as CEO from SFI after 10 years and he or she’s feeling, understandably, lots of blended feelings. But she is definite that now could be the fitting time at hand the reins over to another person (her successor has not but been introduced) because the movie business begins to navigate its manner via unchartered waters.
“Now it’s time for someone with fresh perspectives to dig into this new platform-neutral but also business-model-lacking era,” she says. “It’s a disruptive time and disruption should be led by someone who is free from history and sentimental feelings.”
When she introduced her resignation earlier this 12 months, greater than 50 organizations, together with The Black List, the European Film Market and Time’s Up UK, wrote a joint open later thanking Serner for her dedication and good work. The letter, initiated by the org Women in Film and Television International, praised her for her “long commitment and work towards inclusion in the global film industry.”
“We have to remember though that there are good intentions out there and we need to grasp it,” says Serner. “That is when we make small steps forward. We will not reach parity for everyone fast because there are too many structures that need to be torn down but we can really make a difference if we stick with it.”