Remember the Glass Ceiling? That has been smashed to pieces many times – but now meet The Celluloid Ceiling

Remember the Glass Ceiling? How it was impossible for women in business to break through it to the upper tiers of management? The Glass Ceiling has been smashed to pieces many times – but now meet The Celluloid Ceiling.

An important new four day symposium at the Cervantes Institute in Manchester will investigate why women find it so difficult to reach the top in the film industry – and hope to develop strategies to replace the ceiling with a lift.

Manchester’s Instituto Cervantes, Società Dante Alighieri and Alliance Française have come together for a 4-day celebration of European Cinema with a focus on women in the industry. The real meet in the programme comes on the first evening – May 9 – when a Round Table discuss roles, specific works by women, and opportunities for women in the European film industry. Focusing on four countries (UK, Spain, Italy and France), the panel of experts will address what is unique in how women directors, screenwriters and/or producers approach film-making, and highlight the opportunities for and contributions of women in the industry.

It is hoped that this will help establish a programme or programmes to help the cream of women in the film industry rise to the top. “We don’t want this just to be a talking shop with a few nice films to follow,” explains Pedro Jesús Eusebio Cuesta, Director of Instituto Cervantes Manchester. “We know there are powerful female producers and directors in this industry – but why aren’t there more of them? So, there are two main thrusts to our Round Table session. Can we identify specific problems and, more importantly, can we develop road maps to overcome these problems? Women have made so much progress in the last years in so many areas. Why does film remain so elusive?”

Seats at the Round Table are taken by:

Rachel Hayward Interim Creative Director: Film at HOME, Manchester, Carmen Herrero, Principal Lecturer of Hispanic Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University, Silvana Serra who has been teaching Italian language and culture, and curating cinema events for the Societa’ Dante Alighieri in Manchester, for many years and Isabelle Vanderschelden a former Senior Lecturer in French Studies from Manchester Metropolitan University. All have extraordinary experience of the obstacles faced by women in the film industry – and how to overcome them.

FREE to attend. Pre-booking is essential and can be made at


The next three evenings see screenings of memorable films either starring or made by women.

Notre Dame (10 May) is a comedy featuring the character of Maud Crayon (Valérie Donzelli), a single mother and struggling architect, who wins a competition to redesign the esplanade in front of Notre-Dame. What should be a career-defining opportunity, however, only brings more drama when the project becomes a media scandal. Juggling professional challenges with the complications presented by her ex-fiancé, Bacchus (Pierre Deladonchamps).


I Know Who You Are (11 May) reveals Paloma, a young psychiatrist, hired to work as a director of a clinic in Galicia, who is attracted to Mario, her very first patient. He suffers from a rare form of amnesia, commonly known as Korsakoff’s syndrome. As a result, both his short- and long-term memories are affected, and he has temporary lapses of perception. Through their dialogues, their relationship takes an unexpected turn.


Seven Beauties (12 May) follows the life of Pasquale Frafuso – ironically nicknamed Pasqualino Sette Bellezze (seven beauties). In 1930s Fascist Italy, he makes a point of living a carefree life, steering clear of any socio-political discourse. Yet life and history have a different plan for him. Lina Wertmüller was the first female director nominated for the Academy Awards in 1977, together with nominations as best screenplay; best actor in a leading role (Giancarlo Giannini) and best foreign language film.



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