Industry Executives Kirsten Niehuus, Lee Broda, Teresa Fernández-Valdés & Uzma Hasan Talk Women In Film Leadership — Evolution Mallorca International Film Festival

The influence of streaming companies was a central topic of the Women in Leadership panel at the Evolution Mallorca International Film Festival this past weekend.

The lengthy and wide-ranging session was hosted by journalist and Deadline critic Anna Smith of the Girls On Film Podcast with executives Kirsten Niehuus (Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg), Lee Broda (Vice LB Entertainment), Teresa Fernández-Valdés (Bambú Producciones), and Uzma Hasan (Little House Production) digging into their experiences as women in the industry and finding new opportunities to create.

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During the discussion, Niehuus dug into some of the personal barriers she has faced in the industry, saying she had “never been a feminist until they made me one.” Niehuus also said she believes that the proliferation of global streaming companies has carved out new opportunities for women working in the film industry.

“The biggest effect now comes from the demand for products in the industry. Let’s say, the streamers,” Niehuus said. “I think that gave a lot of opportunities to a lot more women in film producing, directing, and writing. Before the streamers, the structures were pretty much frozen.”

Niehuus added that streaming companies have not only ushered in a new dawn with opportunities for traditionally underrepresented minorities but have overall shifted the industry’s “understanding of storytelling.”

“It goes beyond the characters of women,” she said. “For instance, the show How To Sell Drugs Online Fast that’s a cast and story you would have never seen on public TV. It’s very diverse, not the classic TV program, and I think that opened many doors in storytelling.”

A report published last month by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University found that women made up 50% of major characters on streaming programs and 48% on broadcast TV during 2021-2022, the fourth year in a row that streaming companies have outpaced their broadcast network counterparts in that metric.

Streaming also topped broadcast percentage-wise in key behind-the-scenes jobs, according to the report, with 37% of individuals working in key behind-the-scenes roles on streaming programs identifying as women, a gain of four percentage points to a new high, compared with 31% in broadcast.

Later during the discussion, the panel spoke about the importance of attending events like film festivals and “building communities” when trying to overcome barriers and push the industry forward.

You can listen to the full panel discussion here.

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