This article provides a critical discussion of the world-famous, much-celebrated gender equality work in the Swedish film industry. Since the Swedish Film Institute launched a program for gender equality in 2013, redesigned in 2016 as the action plan 50/50 by 2020, Sweden has been held up as a model country and the Film Institute’s CEO Anna Serner has held several widely publicized seminars in Cannes and elsewhere. This article aims to contextualize the Swedish case, as influential curators, jury chairs, and festival directors around the globe have signed the 50/50 by 2020 campaign with no evidence of its primary goal of dividing production support evenly between men and women by 2020 being within reach. I show that the notion of Sweden as an egalitarian haven obscures remaining injustices, norms, and, not least, the equality program’s lack of intersectional analysis. Unraveling “the myth of gender equality” in Swedish film, this essay shows how this myth operates in the context of Swedish foreign policy and self-promotion in the neoliberal present. As much as the current mobilization for change is worth applauding, I argue that it is crucial to critically examine actual measures and push for redistributive results beyond symbolic commitment, individual recognition, and positive publicity.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.