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news / New report from The Geena Davis Institute looks at representation in Cannes Lions Film and Film Craft Creative Work, from 2006 to 2023.

New report from The Geena Davis Institute looks at representation in Cannes Lions Film and Film Craft Creative Work, from 2006 to 2023.

21 June 2024

Following the release of the findings onstage at Cannes Lions, the latest report on Representation from The Geena Davis Institute, ‘The Power of Portrayal’ has now been published.

The report shows that there have been positive steps towards inclusion. In the 2023 Film and Film Craft Lions, there was a slight decline in the inclusion of female characters, from 47.6% in 2021 to 43.7%. But the overall trend of inclusion of women has been positive since 2006 – as has the inclusion of characters from minority ethnic backgrounds. In 2023, more than half of characters (53%) were people of colour – a minor drop from 2021’s 54.6%.

However, it also shows that there is work to be done on addressing ‘passive’ stereotypes. There’s some evidence that the portrayal of female characters reinforced harmful stereotypes about power, independence and sexualisation. In 2023, just as in 2022, female characters in Film and Film Craft Lions were more likely than male characters to be shown wearing sexually revealing clothing, while male characters were more likely to be shown as working – often in an office setting – and driving.

Commenting, Madeline Di Nonno, President and CEO, Geena Davis Institute, said: “Representation matters. Through representation and portrayals, people feel seen and validated and learn about the world in which they live. And research consistently illustrates that audiences, particularly younger ones, want to see broader diversity in on-screen talent in various media – notably in television, film and advertising. When companies listen to their audience and reflect an inclusive and diverse brand through their advertising, audiences are more likely to purchase from that brand. People – especially those from marginalised groups – want to see characters who look like them, and others from the world around them. But does on-screen representation in advertising reflect our reality?”

To answer this question, the study carries out an assessment of character representation in Cannes Lions Film and Film Craft shortlisted and winning work from 2006 to 2023, investigating the overall trend of representation longitudinally.

Partnering with The Geena Davis Institute since 2015, Cannes Lions donates all funds from submissions into Glass: The Lion for Change to support the creation of the report.

About the Report, Frank Starling, Chief DEI Officer, LIONS, said: “Authentic representation can be truly transformative, for people and businesses. This is especially true for historically underrepresented and underserved audiences, whose attention and decisions are often guided by this expectation. We’ve seen first hand that creative work, through the lens of representation, is more impactful and leads to better results. That’s why LIONS is proud to support the Geena Davis Institute (GDI) in producing research that can positively impact Equity, Representation and Accessibility (ERA) within our industry. It’s the central pillar of our DEI strategy at LIONS. Use this report, and the ERA framework, to help you towards authentic representation.”

The full findings are available to view here. Additionally a new report from LIONS Intelligence on ‘The Power of Portrayal’ uses the findings from the study to educate the industry on how to make their work representative so that it can be more effective. Available exclusively on The Work, this new report can be found here.

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