In January 2015, ARF/FDS, Cinésuisse and FOCAL presented the Swiss study about the distribution of public film funds «Film in Switzerland: Facts and Figures about Gender Diversity», a study initiated by Gabriel Baur, Vice-President of FERA Federation of European Films Directors (2010-2014), Ursula Häberlin, General Secretary of ARF-FDS, Association of Swiss Films Authors and Directors (2013-2018), and Nicole Schroeder, FOCAL. The study was conducted mainly by Ursula Häberlin, Nicole Schroeder and Matthias Bürcher. The study findings showed that in Switzerland, women directors, screenwriters and producers were significantly disadvantaged in receiving public film funding money.
The same year, a gender taskforce was created to discuss further activities and publish our study in a brochure. The founding members were Gabriel Baur, Matthias Bürcher, Ursula Häberlin, Stéphane Mitchell, Nicole Schroeder, Carmen Stadler, Eva Vitija, Britta Rindelaub, quickly joined by Laura Kaehr and Christine Loriol, with the support of Rachel Schmid, EWA Ambassador and Eurimages Representative. The taskforce decided to form a Swiss network for women in the audiovisual industry welcoming Nicole Schroeder's idea to name it SWAN – in the spirit of EWA, the European Women's Audiovisual Network.
The SWAN Facebook-Group was launched in January 2016. It grew quickly – within two days, it counted 500 members. Currently there are more than 1'600 members who exchange and post news, informations and job offers daily.
On June 14th 2018, the SWAN association was founded by Gabriel Baur (Co-President), Laura Kaehr (Co-President), Stéphane Mitchell (Co-President), Julia Tal (Treasurer), Anke Beining-Wellhausen (Executive Committee member), Ana Castañosa (Executive Committee member), Reta Guetg (Co-Opted Executive Committee member), Anaïs Voirol (Co-Opted Executive Committee member), Christine Loriol (SWAN Advisory Council member), Nicole Schroeder, Ursula Haeberlin, Carmen Stadler, Elisa Garbar (SWAN Commission member), Marie-Eve Musy (SWAN Commission member), Salome Horber and Matthias Bürcher.
THE INTERNATIONAL CONTEXT
What could be developed in Switzerland and with SWAN was initiated by a larger movement in Europe. EWA European Women's Audiovisual Network and the Federation of European Film Directors FERA played an essential part in it.
In 2013, with other colleagues from European Countries – France, Sweden, Germany as well as representatives of Women in Film UK – they initiated a large data research study together with the European Audiovisual Observatory. The alarming results showing there was still a very low average of female European film directors in the 21st century were presented and discussed at an international panel at the Cannes Film Festival 2014 in front of 400 guests, with a huge media coverage.
Following this successful event FERA, EWA and other organisations put out a call for action demanding change. The European initiatives, studies and events triggered similar initiatives in different countries, including Switzerland. The national movements are connected and supported in a growing European and international network.
In 2020, SWAN was invited to speak at the historic international round table "shifting the narrative", organized at Berlinale by Pro Quote Film, regrouping more than 55 organisations from 25 countries, was a featured guest at the Short Film Conference in Clermont-Ferrand, and became a partner chapter of WIFTI Women in Film and TV International.