Swedish Film Institute CEO Anna Serner to Step Down; 50 Orgs React With Open Letter

Anna Serner, the well-respected CEO of the Swedish Film Institute who’s been a leading force behind gender parity campaigns in the film industry, has announced she will be stepping down from her role this fall.

News of Serner’s resignation has prompted a joint open letter from 50 organizations thanking the executive for her dedication to reaching equality and equity in the international film industry. The letter, initiated by the org Women in Film and Television International, praised Serner for her “decade-long commitment” as well as her “passion, dedication and clarity,” which has given [them] all hope, encouragement and strength.”

“It’s impossible to overstate the importance of your work for gender equality. Since taking the helm of the Swedish Film Institute in 2011, you’ve been an unwavering force for women at all levels of the industry,” said the letter, which was signed by Helene Granqvist, from Women in Film and Television International; Melissa Silverstein from Women and Hollywood; Heather Rabbatts, from Time’s Up U.K.; Matthijs Wouter Knol from the European Film Academy; Dennis Ruh from the European Film Market; Delphyne Besse and Laurence Lascary from the Collectif 5050; and Kirsten Schaffer from Women in Film LA, among many others.

The letter also spoke about Serner’s pioneering role within the advocacy movement 50/50 by 2020, which launched at Cannes in 2016 and led the festival’s organizers to sign a gender parity pledge. 50/50 then got festivals around the world to follow suit. “It became a global rallying cry, heard by film institutes, festivals, studios, companies and organizations on all continents,” said the letter.

But the journey to reach gender equity isn’t over, said the letter. “Since then, the industry has taken strides, but we still have a long way to go. We won’t stop. We won’t quit.”

Stepping down after a 10-year tenure as CEO, Serner said in a statement that she has witnessed many changes within the film industry and knows there are “many active people who are in good positions to continue the path of change.”

“I have been invited to so many conversations and meetings all over the world. We all have the same challenges and we have so much to learn from each other,” said Serner.

The executive mentioned some career highlights which were “educative and deeply rewarding,” such as being a “Mogul speaker at TIFF, hosting five Ministers on stage at Cannes, speaking at LGBTQ+ festival Side-By-Side in St Petersburg and meeting Maori filmmakers in New Zealand.”

Over the last decade, several Swedish filmmakers have shined at prestigious festivals, notably Ruben Östlund, who won Cannes’ Palme d’Or with “The Square,” as well as Amanda Kernell, Roy Andersson, Niki Lindroth von Bahr, Ali Abassi and Ninja Thyberg, among others.

“Anna Serner has contributed to a wider range of filmmakers in Sweden during her years at The Swedish Film Institute,” said Claes Ånstrand, the chairman of the Board. “We, in the board, especially wish to emphasize the great and important work Anna Serner has done to find new means to raise and widen quality by working with inclusion perspectives,” added Ånstrand.

Serner will remain as CEO until the end of October and said she will do her best to “contribute to a smooth succession during the coming six months.”

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