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Women in Lithuanian Film Industry

Meno Avilys

Do women and men have equal possibilities to start and continue their professional
career in the Lithuanian film industry? What impact does gender have on a cinema
profession and the hierarchy of positions? What role does it play when receiving
funding for film production or winning awards? We have been looking for the answers to these and other similar questions through the research on the professional status of women in the Lithuanian film industry, attempting to see both positive and negative tendencies in the Soviet (1947-1990) and independent Lithuanian (1991-2018) cinema.
The idea took shape in 2016 and is closely related with the international context
of emerging initiatives highlighting the gender aspect and the career of women in
film industry. The research “Where are the Female Directors in European Cinema?”
conducted in seven countries (Austria, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the United Kingdom) and analysing the position of female directors in the film industries in 2006-2013 (commissioned by the European Women’s Audiovisual Network (EWA)) had a great impact for the Lithuanian context analysis.
The circumstances in which Lithuanian gender equality study emerged (2016) and in
which it was being developed and completed (2018) differ significantly. Even though at the very start, just a handful of scientists and filmmakers were involved in it, eventually the interest of the society, film professionals and international researchers grew. The research was conducted in close cooperation with film industry community, was constantly improved by extremely valuable insights and suggestions. Although such research progress posed its own challenges, the possibility to represent Lithuania and to include it into the relevant contemporary international discussion was an exceptional experience and privilege.
Lithuania is the country of a small film industry, so, compared to other countries, the data can be covered and compared in time, e. g. we have a unique possibility to
compare the dynamics of female filmmakers professional status within seven decades and to observe it within different political, cultural and economical contexts.
We hope that this will encourage reasoned debates and contribute to the strengthening of gender equality in Lithuania.
The research “Women in Lithuanian Film Industry” was carried out at the media education and research centre “Meno avilys” and was funded by the Lithuanian Council for Culture. The research team consisted of the following members: Project Manager Dr. Lina Kaminskaite-Jancioriene, Head for Research Dr. Jelena Salaj, researchers Nike Kiskyte and Sandra Zaidova. The data was collected by Veronika Urbonaite-Barkauskienė and Deimante Petrulyte. The project partners: Lithuanian Music and Theatre Academy, Lithuanian Centre for Human Rights, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania.