Greeting by Minister of State Michelle Müntefering to the Round Table of ProQuote Film at the Federal Foreign Office

08.02.2019 - Speech

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A warm welcome to all of you here in Berlin, here in the Foreign Office.

First of all I have a confession to make:

And so we get it over with: I’m going to tell you straight away. This might make me seem a bit suspect and you may not really understand me. And: I certainly hope it doesn’t ruin my re-election chances...

There’s no easy way to say this, but here goes – I do not watch “Tatort”.

Yes, “Tatort”! - the cult police series, the Sunday‑evening viewing for Germans at all, the series that regularly holds up a mirror to our society, from Berlin to Dortmund ...

But at least I can do some damage limitation here: I do read the reviews!

Ladies, you can guess why I am talking about this today. For the first time last week, two female detectives were in charge in an episode set in Göttingen.

And one of them, the actor Florence Kasumba, is black. That is good. And above all, it is long overdue.

Maria Furtwängler knows it best:

If you look back at the history of the series, this really is a big deal. In the TV-past, female roles usually were limited to “the body in the park” or as a variety “the body in the lake” for a long time. Women were supposed to look good and keep quiet.

Today, of the 22 teams, 16 now include women and there are even “women‑only” teams.

This means that the quota has now been met. The sad thing is that “Tatort” is more advanced than real life in our society.

Unfortunately, it is also more advanced than the German Bundestag or for example the real German police, where you still find more men than women.

The good news is that things are changing slowly, but they do change!

  1. The federal film funding supported more than twice as many projects with female directors in 2018 than it had the previous year.
  2. In 2017, we amended the Film Promotion Act in the German Bundestag so that equal numbers of women and men are represented on all German Federal Film Board committees.
  3. In addition, this topic is being more widely discussed, thus helping to make changes possible. Other important figures in television have now joined in the call by Christine Strobl, Managing Director of Degeto, for a quota of 20 percent for female directors.

And more and more television and film producers are now going further and demanding parity.

And last but not least: even Dieter Kosslick now accepted to support the 50/50 by 2020 campaign!

Going back to “Tatort” - Maria Furtwängler presented a new study the other day. It shows that girls and young women still depict themselves in very traditional roles in social media. Or to put it simply, many of them are about being “girly girls”.

I think there is a need for other narrative styles and stories in German film and television. And naturally, age also plays a role. We women know that only too well..

Fortunately, there are also some young women who show there is now a new generation of feminists.

Young women who get involved and make their voices heard, especially in the traditional and new media and in political think tanks.

Just to mention influencer and journalists like Sophie Passmann, Lara Fritzsche - or the new established Center for Feminist Foreign Policy!

Let`s pay attention to them, let`s follow them on Insta and Twitter and read their articles. There`s still a lot to learn from each other!

After all, what Madeline Albright once said is still true: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”

Film literally shows us something.

And this has an enormous impact. It influences how audiences feel and think and can thus be instrumental in changing traditional roles.

Parity must help here. But: it is not enough when women are shown on screen as subordinate to a male boss or do not exist once they are over 50!

Ladies and gentlemen,

As a member of the younger generation in the German Bundestag and of the German Government, I am glad that many strong women paved the way before me. Otherwise, we would not be where we are today.

We also owe this progress to the engagement by “ProQuote Film”.

Since its foundation in 2014, major studies and hearings have shown clearly that the problem of discrimination against women in the film sector is deep‑seated.

And this is not only the case in the film sector, but also in the entire cultural and media sector.

The following questions remain to be answered:

  • Why do almost only half of all female graduates of film schools find employment in the film sector?
  • Why is there still a gender pay gap?
  • Why is it so hard to combine a career in film with family life?

By now, we know a lot about the nature of the problem.

But far more important: How we can change this structural discrimination against women?

Not only has ProQuote Film started this discussion, it has come up with very concrete suggestions on what can be done – without having to spend a lot of money.

For example, I think it is important to take films made by women into account when it comes to preserving film legacy.

The same goes for gender monitoring as regards the distribution of film funding and fees, which largely come from the public sector.

And “last but not least”, equal pay and good social standards should be a matter of course in film funding and everywhere else. That was also something we stipulated in the Film Promotion Act in 2017.

It is unacceptable that women earn less than men for the same work!

I am very grateful to ProQuote for today’s invitation. Exchange and networks are extremely important.

They enable us to find out at first hand which initiatives there are in other countries, which measures work there and which ones don’t.

The wonderful witty campaign by ProQuote on the topic of equal opportunities and the initiative 50/50 by 2020 are equally important at the film festivals in Cannes, Toronto and of course here at the Berlinale.

You are creating political pressure. And this is necessary.

Turning now to the ProQuote team, this brings us finally to the question of what we as the Federal Foreign Office can do to promote equality in film.

  • We are supporting the 50/50 by 2020 campaign by facilitating international networking and exchange, as this ties in with our understanding of international cultural policy.
  • We focus on the uniting force of international cultural work and we need precisely the kind of international cultural networks like yours at the Berlinale.

I learned from Christine Lagarde a new format, which I put on my Agenda as well: A “Women’s Out”, regularly during my trips for instance to Africa.

However, and I say this loud and clear here, the Federal Foreign Office can and must do even more!

The wide range of support it provides to the film sector, for example:

via the Goethe‑Institut,

  • support for festivals,
  • awarding of film prizes,
  • helping foreign films and film‑makers to attend the Berlinale
  • and strengthening exchange between young film‑makers –
  • this could all include more of what the 50/50 by 2020 initiative demands.

Ladies, I firmly believe that if countries are to understand each other, women must understand each other.

I ‘am glad to have you here and you can count on my support!

Thank you very much!


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