At the Verband Filmregie Österreich all signs point to division: A group of currently 42 filmmakers has split off from the directors’ interest group. The background to this is, among other things, the debate about a gender quota in the allocation of funds. According to the Secessionists, since the general assembly on September 30th, around 90 percent of all female cinema directors have had to leave the association.
The majority of those who have left are women, including the who’s who of local women directors, such as Ruth Beckermann, Sabine Derflinger, Marie Kreutzer, Elisabeth Scharang, Eva Spreitzhofer or Mirjam Unger. There are also some men among the association’s critics, including Edgar Honetschläger and Michael Palm. Altogether the resigned around one third of all previous members of the film directing association.
The group of 42, which operates under the hashtag “# die_regisseur *innen”, is now calling for a radical change of course in the representation of the directing branch: “It is time to usher in an era of film politics based on equality, transparency and mutual respect. “
“Exclusion, lack of transparency and disrespectful treatment”
In a joint manifesto, one does not spare criticism of the existing Film Directorate Association: “A long history of exclusion, lack of transparency and disrespectful internal treatment has weakened the political clout of the Film Director Association as an important representation of the interests of Austrian cinema directors.” There are complaints about a lack of democratic structures and a lack of willingness to enter into dialogue. In the debate about the gender quota in the allocation of funds, there was not even an interest in establishing a minimum consensus – “if not in a progressive position, at least in a position based on collective solidarity”. Here the association had advocated a different model than the one ultimately implemented as a funding criterion by the Austrian Film Institute.
In this respect, one has felt compelled to take the step that has now been taken. “We need a lobby group that is open-minded about these issues and aggressively supports diversity. We no longer see any possibility of implementing all of this in the existing structure of the Film Directorate Association.” One now wants to set in motion a discussion process over the coming months, the outcome of which is open. The aim was to establish a solidarity representation of interests in 2021.
Association appeals to those who have left
Affected by the step of the colleagues, however, the association showed, but does not want to speak of a split yet. “We’re getting a little kiss on the hand here,” emphasized the seated director Arman T. Riahi in an interview with APA, only since the end of September. The lines of conflict are older here, explained Kurdwin Ayub, who has been a member of the board for a year. In many cases, you suspect personal conflicts behind the proceedings, especially since many of the general assemblies would not have spoken. “There has been little interest in being democratically involved in recent years,” said Ayub.
Together, however, they continue to appeal to those who have left to stick together and not to give up the association as a lobby group. “We’re playing into the hands of a divisive zeitgeist here, instead of sitting down at a table in a small country like Austria,” said Riahi. A meeting is planned for the end of November, in which the offer made previously to reorganize the association is on the agenda, which is also aimed at the Secessionists. “The hand is always outstretched,” emphasized the director.
At the same time, one must emphasize that even after an interest group has left, one remains that unites many perspectives – of women and men, people with a migration background or queer people. “We are a pluralistic interest group,” said Riahi.