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England invests heavily in diversity in films – Culturenet

England invests heavily in diversity in films – Culturenet

– I think that the British initiative shows that they take their democratic responsibility seriously, says Bakr Karim, a feature film advisor at the Film Institute.

This week, a debate erupted over how to solve the lack of diversity in Swedish films. At the same time, the British Film Institute (BFI) is issuing new rules that will direct public money invested in film production towards films that better reflect England's diversity. For one year, the new checklist must be tested, and two of the three requirements must be met in order for the film project to receive funding.

It's about who gets on the big screen, who makes the film and how film companies, for example, create conditions for more people to be able to get a job. The list of requirements favors, for example, film projects that contain non-white characters, that deal with people with disabilities or that focus specifically on women. Such as the biopic Belle by British director Amma Asante.

Bakr Karim says the one area in which Sweden outperforms England is when it comes to gender equality.

– The BFI looks at Swedish initiatives in relation to gender and equality, as we have come a long way in how we look at things. At the same time, we can look to the BFI which has clearly come a long way to taking this democratic responsibility for how support is distributed.

In the diversity debate that was taking place, among other things, in Expressen this week, it was discussed whether different types of diversity tests are the right way to control film production.

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Risk judgment tests

It was after an interview on SVT's Kulturnyheterna, where several writers responded to Bakr Karim's statement that he would like to see more people using the so-called Chavez-Pérez test, which wants the viewer to ask whether there are two non-white characters talking to each other. About something other than crime. Critics say the test, just like the related feminist Bechdel Test, risks becoming a governing tool that inhibits filmmakers.

Bakr Karim believes the debate is distorted because neither he nor the SFI use any of the tests when determining a good or bad film project.

– It started out as a joke where you say this: Can you name a movie that has an immigrant person in it that's racist and doesn't talk about crime? It sounds ridiculous and that's the point. It has become ridiculous in Swedish cinema today to have so few such examples.