Actors question gender-neutral prize system at Ensor Awards for TV and film

Winners at the Ensor Awards have argued for removing gender-neutral film and TV prizes, saying it is too early to instate a system of this sort, VRT reported on Saturday evening following the award ceremony.

The Ensors, the annual awards celebrating talent in Flemish television and films, changed its categories to gender-neutral two years ago. This means there are no separate prizes for male and female actors; they are instead grouped together into awards for best performances. This year, as happened two years ago, all titles went to male actors.

Aimé Claeys, who won Best Television Performance for 1985, and Stef Aerts, who took home the Best Movie Performance for Wil, said the gender-neutral system should be paused.

"I think we should abolish it for a while and find another way"

“I think we should abolish it for a while and find another way because there are just as many women who deserve to win such prizes. But at the moment, it is not working yet," said Claeys. Aerts said the problem was in the roles written for women not carrying the same amount of screen time or depth as roles written for men, leading to unbalanced voting for best performances.

He said the types of films being made now were changing but there needs to be more time before turning to an entirely gender-neutral awards system. “Once we have made that change, awards may follow, but it is still a bit too early for that," he said.

The Ensors are awarded by the members of the Ensor Academy, the organisation of professionals from the Flemish audiovisual sector. Chair Wim Vanseveren said of the results: "We are very satisfied, although there could certainly have been more diversity in the outcome."

"Every year, we have a thorough evaluation, and this year will be no different"

600 members of the Ensor Academy vote on the prizes, and according to Vanseveren, 55 per cent of the Ensor Academy are men. "But that does not mean that the same percentage of men voted," he says. "And that does not mean that men necessarily voted for men or vice versa. We all want to look at that."

He said it was not necessarily the case that gender-neutral prizes always lead to this outcome. "Every year, we have a thorough evaluation, and this year will be no different. We really want to do this candidly and with an open mind and draw conclusions based on facts and figures."

The big winners of the evening were creatives from 1985 and Wil. 1985 received 10 of the 15 awards for which it was nominated, and Wil took seven out of 14.


#FlandersNewsService | © BELGA PHOTO JONAS ROOSENS

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