An Actress's Thoughts

German Film Award Nominations 2023 – who sets the Tone?

The German Film Awards 2023

A fortnight ago I analysed 15 films that were nominated in at least two categories at the US film awards (Oscars so diverse?). The 6-trade check revealed a pretty rosy picture, because in each of the six trades of directing, screenwriting, cinematography, sound, editing and music, the proportion of men was over 75%. Which, of course, at the same time means that the proportion of women was always below 25%, the highest figure perhaps surprisingly being for female composers, who scored 23.5%.

Today we are talking about the nominations for the German Film Awards 2023, and the good news is that the 6-works check turned out a little better for women, regardless of whether I only looked at the six productions nominated for “Best Film” or all 24 films nominated in at least one category. But that is already the best news in this text.

The first diagram shows the 6-departments-check for all nominated films:

The highest share of women is in editing (37%), directing and screenwriting are around 30% and female composers provided the lowest figure at 8%.

The question of the share of films that meet #2of6 suggests itself. Well, maybe not, but I find it worth pursuing: how many of the 24 nominated films – feature films, children’s films and documentaries – meet the two out of six mark, i.e. how many involved women in at least two of the six departments? Actually, less than half. In 13 films there is either no or just woman in a position of responsibility.

Just over half of the results are shaded pink, the rest light blue. Is that good? Well, the illustration perhaps suggests a better result, because it is not a question of reaching 50:50, but instead 100%. All publically funded films should ideally meet the #2of6 standard. And not just 13 out of 24 films – 54 % – as in this case. 

Chorus: Anyway, maybe films do exist that involved more women in their teams, but which were not so well received by the audience or by the members of the film academy? Or maybe there are no films with more female filmmakers because they are simply not as good and get hired less often? Or maybe there are tightly knit male networks where women don’t fit in or through? Does people’s gender really matter?

First things first. Let’s look at:

6-Departments-Check for the six nominations “Best Picture”

Specifically, at the six nominations in 2023, and to compare, later followed by the corresponding 6-departments-checks in 2022 and 2021.

Not hard to see: no female sound mixer or composer in any of the films in 2023, the share of women for directors and writers below 20 %, yes, that is clearly lower than for all 24 nominated films. But – to state something positive: Women cinematographers are much more present than in the 24 films, at 33.3 %, and women editors account for 50 %. Great.

Of the six Best Film nominations, four films fail to make #2of6, including a zero for RHEINGOLD, which was only nominated in the Best Film category overall. The Netflix production ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT is nominated in twelve categories, if I did count correctly, and is the only one of the 24 films not to receive public funding, coming in at 1 out of 6. This is due to Lesley Paterson who wrote the screenplay alongside Edward Berger and Ian Stokell, based on Erich Maria Remarque‘s novel, among other things.

The Hen or the Eggs

I have already performed so many 6-departments-checks, which in the vast majority of cases prove an overwhelming male preponderance in mostly five of the six trades. However, if we only look at a small group – like six films in this case – the result may not be as meaningful. With the Best Film nominations from last year and the year before, we get 18 films, – but the trend is the same.


Overall, it can be said that men have the upper hand almost consistently in the six departments. The proportion of women in sound has been 0 % three years in a row; there were no women at the controls in 18 films. At the other end, twice female editors reached 50 %. The other departments are somewhere in between.

Chorus: A #2of6 threshold for public funding would tip the statistics a little more towards gender balance, but would it possibly make the films worse instead of better? Is this too much interference, should we let the film industry and the market do their thing and wait for more women in film to assert themselves or be discovered? On the other hand, doesn’t the industry losey an infinite amount of creativity if women are not only disadvantaged in accessing the big projects with high budgets? 

If there are still higher proportions of women in university / film school films and often in the first production after that, how do they disappear? Tried out but found not good enough? Probably not. So there is most likely still that certain “they aren’t as capable” prejudice, or the well-known men’s networks – “I always work with camera and sound man XY”. Of course, a film doesn’t automatically have to be better if women are involved, and if there were films that offer a female counterbalance to the many “mainly men in the 6 departments” productions, everything would be fine. It’s just that these films are very rare. AND TOMORROW THE WHOLE WORLD (2021) is such an exception with four departments involving women, and WONDERFUL (2022) also with four out of six. This year only one film can boast more than two departments involving women: WHEN WILL IT FINALLY BE LIKE IT NEVER WAS with three out of six.

Incidentally, the zeros among the Best Film nominations 2021 to 2023, apart from RHEINGOLD (2023), are JE SUIS KARL (2021), SCHACHNOVELLE (2021) and CONTRA (2022).

18 films. I would like to take larger pools into account and not just an intersection, i.e. at least the top 100 German films of a year, or even all funded films. Or even better, all projects that applied for funding? Difficult, it’s not really possible to get the data, and not all films nominated in one year had their premiere in the previous year or in the first half of the year, so they don’t necessarily appear in the Top 100. Nevertheless, I have started to analyse the top 100 German films with the biggest audiences in 2022 and will probably also take budgets into account. So watch this space.

The German Film Awards 2023 will be presented on 12 May in Berlin.




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