EDN MEMBER OF THE MONTH – Alessia Sonaglioni
In this monthly interview series EDN focuses on one of its many members to show both members in the spotlight and the diversity of the EDN membership group. Our EDN member of the month for September 2016 is Alessia Sonaglioni, Network Director, EWA – European Women’s Audiovisual Network.
EDN has talked to Alessia Sonaglioni about EWA’s work and plans for the future. Alessia Sonaglioni is a founding member of EWA network. EWA is a supportive community that wants to promote greater gender equality for audiovisual creatives to ensure that women’s creative voices are heard in all their linguistic and cultural diversity throughout Europe and beyond.
With a long-standing experience as media lawyer and programme manager at the Council of Europe, Alessia joined Eurimages in 2010 as project manager gaining experience in legal and financial issues linked to European film co-production. She is also a certified coach and a human rights expert, and her engagement for gender equality comes mainly from her human rights background. In February 2016 she became EWA network director, replacing Francine Raveney who had set up the network in 2013.
EDN: Can you start by telling a bit more about your background and your road from media lawyer and human rights expert to a founding member of EWA?
AS: I have been working almost my entire career for the Council of Europe, a Strasbourg based pan European organisation, where I have evolved from a position of human rights lawyer to a freedom of information expert and lately worked for Eurimages, the European fund supporting co-productions. When I joined Eurimages in 2010 I was very surprised to realise that in the cinema industry women were blatantly underrepresented in almost all working positions. Therefore I strongly supported my colleague Francine Raveney when she accepted to become EWA director and set up the network in Strasbourg.
EDN: What was the motivation behind the foundation of EWA and what are the objectives of the network?
AS: EWA was set in motion during a conference of pan-European filmmakers in 2010. The outcome of this was the Santiago Declaration setting out ideas for how EWA might act in the industry. Between 2010 and November 2012 EWA was managed by the Spanish association of female audiovisual professionals - CIMA. In January 2013, new statutes were signed in Strasbourg, Francine Raveney was appointed as the new EWA Director.
The network was set up to promote greater gender equality for women audiovisual professionals in terms of access to and opportunities for employment and equal access to funding throughout Europe.
EDN: How many members do you currently have and what are the benefits of becoming a member of EWA?
AS: We currently have two hundred subscribing members and a thousand followers. Members benefit of direct contacts among each other, advice from the team on initiatives promoting women in the audiovisual sector, and promotion of their work through the network communication channels.
EDN: What do you see as some of the biggest challenges in today’s media landscape in terms of fighting inequality?
AS: Equal access to funding is worldwide the biggest challenge for women in the audiovisual production. Without money and opportunities women cannot make their voices and storied heard. Also distribution of existing female driven content is a major issue.
EDN: What is the progress made in this area in recent years?
AS: Awareness of the discriminatory situation of women in the audiovisual industry has hugely increased. During the last couple of years almost every cinema festival around Europe and beyond has organised panels and public discussions about this topic. However, the biggest progress has been made by those bold initiatives fixing a 50/50 target in allocating public funding such as in Sweden and more recently in the UK and Ireland.
EDN: Can you share some EWA success stories?
AS: The publication in 2016 of our report “Where are women directors in Europe”, the first research covering seven European countries (Germany, Italy, France, the UK, Sweden, Austria and Croatia) and providing comparable and exhaustive data on the situation of women directors, has been so far our greatest accomplishment. The report is the benchmark for other researches of the same kind and the basis not only for EWA action but also for all the associations and decision makers concerned with equality in the audiovisual sector.
The report can be found through this link:
EDN: EWA also provides training. What type of training do you offer and do you have any offers coming up?
AS: In 2015 we started an innovative training programme open to fifteen participants, women and men. “Multiple revenue stream for future films” is focused on online marketing & distribution and new business models for the film industry. The training is project based and articulated in two workshops. We are running its 2nd edition this year. Deadline for applications is early in spring.
EDN: What are the best ways to support the work of EWA?
AS: Becoming an active member of the network and creating synergies with industry initiatives having a special focus on women are the best ways to support EWA. Sponsoring EWA’s projects is also more than welcome!
EDN: Are there new initiatives planned for EWA’s future work?
AS: We will launch a series of development prizes for female driven projects in several market platforms, the first one will be awarded at the DOK Leipzig co-production market. In 2017 we will hopefully create a scholarship for members including a one month residence with a script consultant and launch a European women producers mentoring programme.
EDN: And last but not least what lies next for you and EWA in the calendar?
AS: We will have a gathering event in September during the San Sebastian film festival co-organised by the Basque Women Association, which is an EWA member, and in October a panel on the situation of women directors in Italy at the Mercato Internazionla dell’Audiovisivo (MIA) in Rome.
For more information visit: www.ewawomen.com
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