John Polson calls for more women at Tropfest

11 December, 2015 by Brian Karlovsky

John Polson has called for more women to enter Tropfest after this year's festival yielded only one female finalist out of 16.

The call follows the unveiling of Screen Australia's $5 million plan to address the gender imbalance in Australian film and the Australian Directors Guild's commitment to have women fill 50 per cent of the attachments and for 75 per cent of the attachemnts to reflect both gender and cultural diversity. 


Australian Directors' Guild chief executive, Kingston Anderson, said the guild was concerned by the lack of female representation in the finalists for Tropfest. 

"It seems strange that out of 16 finalists there is only one woman," he said. 

"It would be great to see more gender diversity at Tropfest and possible strategies to increase the inclusion of female filmmakers." 

Polson told IF that both the number of female entrants and female finalists had traditionally hovered around the 20 per cent mark, "which is marginally better than the industry standard, but still way too low," he said.

"We have long been disappointed by that percentage – often quite vocally – and we welcome conversation about how we can increase the number of women entering Tropfest, as well as women getting more equal opportunities in the industry as a whole."

According to Screen Australia, the imbalance is most notable in film with 32 per cent of women working as producers, 23 per cent as writers and only 16 per cent as directors.

In the US the figures are even more staggering with females directing only 6.4 per cent of the 376 movies released in 2013-14, according to the Directors Guild of America.

The DGA study also found that female directors were more commonly working on lower budget films (less than $10 million).

There were 86 directors of 69 films with a box office between $250,000 and $10 million.

In the lower budget category 11.6 per cent of the films were directed by women.

While 222 among the directors of 212 films with a box office greater than $10 million, only 3.1 per cent were women.

Tropfest, which was due to take place on December 6 prior to it's cancellation, will now be held on February 14 at Centennial parklands after insurance company CGU stepped in the save the event.  

The 2016 festival will include stories about an Australian ex World Champion boxer battling the bottle, unlikely Taylor Swift fans, and a best friend with a dangerous secret, among the 16 finalist films.