Filmmaking has always been treated as an art form that expresses the vision of actors and directors in the same unique way as painters or authors. Departing from that traditional view, the National Film Board of Canada has committed itself to a quota system that will require half of its publicly funded movies to be directed by women. The policy should raise serious artistic objections as being detached from the art form and artistic vision.
NFB head Claude Joli-Coeur declared that “I’m making a firm, ongoing commitment to full gender parity, which I hope will help to lead the way for the industry as a whole.” However, his move decouples the selection of directors from a question entirely based artistic merit.
What is interesting is that such a controversial move may not be needed when female directors can — and have — secured these positions on the merits. Jolie-Coeur admits that films directed by women currently represent around half of the NFB’s overall production spending. He says however that the number can fluctuate. If that is the case, why adopt such a rule that could undermine the credibility and achievement of female directors who have broken through this glass ceiling based on their artistic vision and skill alone? Moreover, there seemed to be little debate over the implications of a quota system in an artistic area. For example, the board could have sought to encourage the development of greater numbers of female directors through educational grants and assistance without changing the merit-based selection process of films. It is also not clear if the Board will also set quotas based on race or sexual orientation or other insular and unrepresented groups. What do this group not qualify for such quota commitments?
What do you think?