Nataša Bučar, you are the director of the Slovenian Film Centre (the SFC). The SFC has carried out a study revealing that the amount of financial resources, allocated to female film directors in the period between 2011 and 2017, has decreased from eleven to eight percent in comparison with the 1995 – 2010 period. The study has also shown that not a single female director was financed by the SFC in the years 2011, 2012, 2016, and 2017. Why is that?
As late as in 2002, Maja Weiss made the first female-directed feature film with cinematographic distribution in Slovenia. Her work was soon followed by that of Hanna Slak. In the context of the aforementioned study, the percentage of financial resources allocated to feature films by female directors between 1995 and 2010 has been analysed, and it has been established that only ten percent of female directors have been awarded funds. During the existence of the SFC, this share has increased to 12.7%, which, however, is still far below the European Union average. It is quite conceivable that since the success of projects by female directors has been so modest in the past, directresses are currently simply not motivated to even begin outlining any projects.
However, the statistics indicate that several female directors have indeed applied for script and project development support, but have not received it. I am not sure what the exact reasons behind these decisions are, but I do believe that women are less motivated to finish their films in case our commission does not select them at competitions related to pre-production. One of the reasons for this could also stem from the relatively modest female representation in the expert commissions of the SFC, especially those related to the film activities. The presence of women is much higher in the commissions focusing on festival support and film education, which involve considerably less resources; but considerably more modest in the commissions focusing on project development and realisation.
To what degree is the SFC aware of films with lesbian content, which are increasingly often referred to as "lesbian film"?
The SFC is aware of the topic, but it is a fact that not many such films or scripts have applied for our calls for projects. If you recall, the documentary film Growing Up by Siniša Gačić and Dominik Mencej had its premiere this March. The film may not be a typical "lesbian film", but it certainly raises the crucial social issue of same-sex couples. The documentary is an intimate portrait of the four-month-old Tibor and his mothers Daja and Jedrt, who start fighting against the discrimination of their family. When they get involved in the pre-election campaign leading up to the same-sex marriage referendum shortly before Christmas 2015, their private life becomes one of the main political issues in Slovenia. In addition to the challenges posed by first-time parenting, Daja and Jedrt must also confront opponents who compare them to paedophiles and label their relationship as unnatural. Growing up was the final film of the 33rd LGBT Film Festival in the Slovenian Cinematheque in Ljubljana, and it is definitely a good example of how to present an exceedingly important topic on the big screen.
As far as the film festival support is concerned, for many years the SFC has co-financed the realisation of the Ljubljana Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, the oldest festival of this kind in Europe. We are pleased that this film festival was recognised as an important and significant event at this year call for applications and received a three-year continuous support for the years 2018, 2019, and 2020.
Do you pay attention to feature and short films with lesbian and/or bisexual content when selecting film projects; and how much resources, if any, do you devote to the promotion of Slovenian lesbian films? (I do not know whether any Slovenian lesbian films exist at all. As far as I can recall, Maja Weiss's film Guardian of the Frontier (2002) features Žana, the only openly lesbian character to date, and depicts her semi-romance with another female character, Alja.).
In 2013, Nejc Gazvoda directed the film Dvojina (Dual), which focuses on a lesbian couple – Iben from Denmark and Tina from Slovenia. You can find out more about the film at https://www.film-center.si/en/film-in-slovenia/films/3514/dual/.
The SFC does not reserve special funds for this genre.
How about lesbian and bisexual directors, screenwriters, etc., of whom there are quite a few in Slovenia?
The Slovenian Film Centre promotes all films that it co-finances with the same focus and in the same manner, regardless of the sexual orientation of the filmmakers involved. The selection of projects depends almost exclusively on the quality of the scripts.
Last but not least, how important do you personally feel that the SFC's attention is to the aforementioned issue – i.e., to the promotion of lesbian and bisexual features and shorts as well as lesbian and bisexual directors and screenwriters? Does the SFC have any vision of how it could promote the swiftly-developing films and TV series with lesbian characters in the future?
When selecting projects, we must ensure both the diversity of genres as well as film themes. These topics have obviously not been subject to any sort of discrimination. I am convinced that any high-quality screenplays, focusing on the aforementioned topic, will be successfully identified as such by the SFC as well.