Film director Lav Diaz receives the Golden Lion for Best Film at last year’s Venice Film Festival / Image via Getty

Out of the 21 films in the competition this year at the Venice Film Festival only one of those movies is directed by a woman (Vivian Qu for Angels Wear White.) But festival director Alberto Barbera wants you to know that it’s not really his fault.

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter Barbera says that he screens films without knowing the genders of the directors, not that he seems to care. “I don’t like to think in terms of a quota when you make a selection process,” he says. “I’m sorry that there are very few films from women this year, but we are not producing films.”

Advertisement

In the past Venice has also put women directors in sections outside the main competition like the Horizons section, which typically screens more controversial or cutting-edge works. So why aren’t they aren’t in the main competition? Well, they just aren’t good enough!

“When you are in competition, for example, the expectation from the press is higher. If the film is not good enough it means that the response from critics and audience will be worse than in other cases,” he says, further arguing that he won’t put a movie in the competition just because it’s made by a woman. “I think it’s the only way to think in terms of programming. What we ask ourselves is will we help the film by putting it in competition or outside the competition?”

I’m going to go with not helping it, Barbera. Making competitive spaces for art more diverse doesn’t lower the standards of the body of work especially considering what Venice is already working with: last year they screened The Light Between Oceans in the main competition which wasn’t exactly critically beloved. And don’t even get me started on Nocturnal Animals. And have you already forgotten La La Land? Enough said.