Whose Stories Get to be Heard?

How diverse is the "Big Three" film festivals?

The issue of diversity in the film industry has always been a hot but unarguable topic. And because of the nature of storytelling and entertainment for the mass audience of films, this lack of diversity ultimately leads to the question of “who gets to tell the stories” and “whose stories get to be heard”, which could consolidate inequalities to some extent.

As a vital assessment of quality and success in filmmaking, film festivals seem to be a practical point to look at the diversity of this industry. However, interestingly, many debates on this issue focus on the Oscar, an award mainly focuses on the American film industry (starting to gear towards international only in recent years). It’s reasonable since the USA is a country with diverse populations. Still, it also seems unfair to criticize so much on a film festival that is mainly limited to one country. I believe that the film festivals that aim to award excellent films internationally should also be brought to the center of debates and analyses on diversity and inclusion since they also share the same problem.

Thus, I wonder: Are these international film festivals diverse enough? If not, what might be the reason for their lack of diversity? To answer these questions, this data story will try to visualize the troubling status-quo of the diversity in these film festivals and explore a possible answer to why this happens.

Diversity of the directors

This data story will focus on the “Big Three”, namely, the Venice , Cannes, and Berlin International Festival because these are the most prestigious film festivals globally. I believe their diversity could be a persuasive evidence of the status quo in this industry worldwide. And simultaneously, as these three film festivals also concentrate on different perspectives of the film (artistic and commercial achievements for Cannes, political and social value for Berlin, and a combination of all in Venice), I think it’ll be effective to showcase the inclusiveness in movies of different topics.

And because of the storytelling nature of film, the following part wil focus on the diversity of the directors, since they are the one whom the biggest award of the film festivals goes to and one of the most important person of filmmaking that they pretty much decides what stories will be told in the film. This visualization would also only focus on the nominated directors of the main competition of each festival (the "Golden Palm" for Cannes, the "Golden Bear" for Berlin, and the "Golden Lion" in Venice), since they are the most representative and important awards in the festivals.

First, let's look at the diversity of gender.

Here, PINK represents the FEMALE directors that have won the prize, while BLUE represents MALE.

You can hover on each bar to see which film & director each bar stands for.

You could also click the buttons with each film festival's logo on the right, to check the the diversity of individual film festivals.

From this graph, we can clearly see that FEMALE directors are underrepresented in these world-famous awards.

Now, let's look at how the nominated directors are distributed on the MAP.

Here, each dot represents a nominated director from this country.

You could hover on each country to see how many nominees were there.

You could also use the buttons on the right to filter which film festival that you would like to see.

Despite the different sizes of the countries, we could still see that the nominees are crowded in EUROPE and the US.

Especially when comparing how crowded EUROPE is and so few that AFRICA has.

Because of the colonial sturcture that our world has, it's also interesting to look at the nominess by their CONTINENTS.

Here, each dot represents a nominated director.

Same as before, you could also hover on each dot & click the buttons

It's obvious that a large portion of the nominees come from EUROPE

Whereass AFRICA & OCEANIA has only a few.

Now what if we add GENDER into this graph?

It seems that the lack of female representation applies to all continents.

But it also seems that EUROPE, despite the large proportion of it, has a better status of female representation. But becuase of the limited number that we have, it's hard to tell the actual status quo.


Diversity of the juries

In the last section, we saw how not diverse in terms of sex and nationality is in the "Big Three" film festivals. But why does this happen?

The diversity of the juries might be an answer to this. Because juries are the ones who decides who are winning and whose films got to be seem by the wider audience. However, can the diversity of the juries really explain why these film festivals lack diversity? Let's find out!

The structure and interaction of this graph is same as before, only each dot represents a jury from this continent.

It's obvious that still, EUROPE takes a larger proportion.

But it's also interesting to see a lot more FEMALE in the juries.

Proportionally speaking, the juries do tries to balance the diversity by having more female and some juries from (almost) every continent.

However there's still sometime when there're no nominees from Africa or Oceania.

Finally, let's look compare the diversity of nominees and juries rogether to see if there's any correlation.

For geographical distribution, the two shows similar pattern:

EUROPE is the most represented, while AFRICA and OCEANIA are obviously underrepresented.

In terms of gender representation, the selection of juries is successful in balancing the diversity. However, it's interesting to see that the nominated directors do not follow this pattern.

Is it because femal directors are not as good as male directors?

Or is it because the mainstream perception of what is a good movie prefers male director?


Having introduced the diversity of the "Big Three" film festivals using the data of the last decade, hopefully you have had a glimpe of the concerning diversity of these 3 biggest film festivals in the world. Based on the diversity of gender and geographical region of the nominated directors and juries, we can see that some parts of the world and female directors are still underrepresented in the film industry. As we're living in this world full of intertainments, it's highly crucial to have the underrepresented to speak out so that they aren't swallowed by the massive flow of information.

We are all looking forward to the day when the film industry would let more underrepresented people to tell their stories and let the public hear their voice.