Purpose-Driven Progress: Advancing On-Screen Diversity and Inclusion Through Accountability

AN ANALYSIS OF CANNES LIONS FILM AND FILM CRAFT CREATIVE WORK FROM 2006 TO 2021

Geena Davis Institute and Cannes Lions

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Executive Summary

Surveys and market research find that audiences want to see broader on-screen diversity in entertainment and creative work, and audiences are more loyal to brands that reflect their identities. Audiences also seek content that represents them accurately on screen. Has the creative work kept up? To answer this question, Cannes Lions partnered with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media for a third time to assess representation in Cannes Lions Film and Film Craft creative work from 2006 to 2021, with a focus on character portrayals in creative work from 2021. This study examines representations of gender, race, LGBTQIA+ identity, disability, age, and body type. The executive summary presents the major findings.

Representation Overview

Who Was Included?

From 2006 to 2021, representations of women and people of colour in Cannes creative work increased markedly. In 2021, Cannes Lions creative work nearly reached gender parity. Visually prominent female characters increased 13.7 percentage points across that timespan, from 33.9% in 2006 to 47.6% last year, which is the greatest share of female characters in Cannes Lions creative work between 2006 and 2021. And in their share of screen time and speaking time, we again see positive change: Female characters occupy 43.2% of screen time — an increase of about 3 percentage points from 2020 — and 44.3% of speaking time — an increase of about 2 percentage points from 2020.

Also, in Cannes Lions creative work from last year, the share of visually prominent people of colour increased 28.7 points, from 25.9% in 2006 to 54.6%, which is the largest share of characters of colour in all Cannes Lions creative work between 2006 and 2021.

The inclusion of other historically excluded groups remained stagnant in 2021 creative work. LGBTQIA+ representation has largely hovered around 2% for all visually prominent characters over the time period in which such representation was measured (2018–2021). For reference, in a study of 27 countries, about 2% of respondents identify as transgender or nonbinary, and 11% describe themselves as only, mostly, or equally attracted to people of the same sex. Representation of people with disabilities has varied between 2018 and 2021, but it peaked in 2019, at just 2.2% of all visually prominent characters. For reference, about 15% of the world’s population has a disability, according to the World Bank. The inclusion of characters ages sixty and older has not improved over the time period measured (2019–2021). For reference, about 13.5% of the world’s population is sixty-plus, according to United Nation global population estimates. Representation of people with a large body type has also not improved over the time period measured (2019–2021).

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Intersectional Findings Overview

Intersectional analysis of the 2021 Cannes Lions creative work reveals that male and female characters were similarly diverse. As shown in Table 1, the share of male and female characters who were people of colour, LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities, and ages sixty and older was much the same. Male characters were slightly more likely to have a large body type (6.8% of all male characters, compared with 4.5% of female characters) and, therefore, represented more body-type diversity than seen in female characters.

Table 1

How Were Groups Portrayed?

GENDER

Overall, the analysis of how characters were portrayed suggests that female characters in 2021 Cannes Lions creative work had less autonomy than male characters, but their portrayals improved from previous years. For example:

Another marked change is that fewer women were shown in revealing clothing:

RACE/ETHNICITY

Overall, the analysis of how characters were portrayed suggests that characters of colour in 2021 Cannes Lions creative work were more social and socially engaged and more physically active than white characters:

White characters were more likely than characters of colour to be shown having authority, working, and being funny:

LGBTQIA+

Overall, the analysis of how characters were portrayed suggests that LGBTQIA+ characters in 2021 Cannes Lions creative work were social, active, and engaged. For example:

LGBTQIA+ characters were less likely than non-LGBTQIA+ characters to be shown working, however:

DISABILITY

As reported above, disability representation is low — just 1.2% of all characters in Cannes Lions 2021 creative work. Due to the small number of characters, we did not carry out statistical analysis of their portrayals.

AGE (SIXTY AND OLDER)

Overall, the analysis of how characters were portrayed in 2021 Cannes Lions creative work suggests that characters ages sixty and older were more social and domestic but less physically active than younger characters. For example:

BODY TYPE

Overall, the analysis of how characters were portrayed suggests that characters with a large body type were broadly similar to characters with other body types. The only significant difference was in who was shown at a sporting event:

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