Spotlight on the place of women aged 50 and over in cinema, and the impact of this representation in French society

The senior dating site, “DisonsDemain” commissioned a survey on the presence of women aged 50 and over in the film industry and, by extension, in French society.


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French actress Fanny Ardant, at the 80th Venice International Film Festival, September 2, 2023. (MONDADORI PORTFOLIO / ARCHIVIO MARILLA SICILIA / MARILLA SICILIA VIA GETTY IMAGES)

How does cinema reflect the realities of society, or on the contrary, can it advance them? Of all French films released in 2021, only 7% of roles were assigned to actresses over 50, compared to 16% for men.

OpinionWay for the DisonsDemain site was interested in this question: discrimination linked to age or ageism, and gender, weighs heavily on society. Deconstructing the stereotypes that affect people aged 50 and over has been the aim of the dating site for 7 years. And for good reason, 56% of people aged 50 and over do not feel sufficiently valued within French society: more than 6 out of 10 French people (69%), aged 50 and over, believe that women do not are not valued in society and 64% believe that they are not listened to sufficiently.

“How today, we manage to break taboos, prejudices, asks Céline Boudiere, marketing and digital director of Meetic Europe, the parent company of DisonsDemain, because there are still a lot of them, on sexuality, obviously. While at 50, there are 94% of singles who say that their sex life is even better than at 20. And we, regarding the media and cinema, we have a very important role, because we represent these singles. DIn our advertisements too, we must represent those over 50 as they are and not 10 years younger.”

More than one in two adult women is over 50 years old in France

This represents almost 15 million women in 2023, according to INSEE. Still according to this Opinionway study, carried out from September 21 to 29, 2023, with a sample of 1,000 people, actresses over 50 are significantly less in demand at the cinema, and this does not go unnoticed: almost half of the respondents (49%) affirm that in the cinema, women aged 50 and over are less visible than men.

Éléonore Quarré, study director at OpinionWay believes that “It’s been evolving over the last few years, all this liberation of speech too, on subjects of parity, legitimacy too, of being able to dare to speak. And the other subject too, is the place of women in society at times. positions of responsibility, women who dare and who have increasingly important functions.

And what is also particularly striking in cinema is that we are seeing more and more female directors. Their ability also to feature women over 50.”

The actresses who best embody the 50-year-old woman are: Sophie Marceau comes in first position (50% of respondents), Catherine Deneuve (47%), Isabelle Huppert (43%) and Mathilde Seigner (40%).

86% of respondents believe that the stories of famous women aged 50 and over should be brought to the screen more, this increased presence would have a positive impact on mentalities.

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