Netflix documentaries shouldn’t focus on female victims, executive says

Jill Dando in 1999PA Media

Netflix must make documentaries about women other than “victims and hookers”, an executive has said, and called on film-makers to find different stories.

The cases of newsreader Jill Dando and Lucie Blackman, who were both murdered, feature in new Netflix documentaries.

But the firm’s UK head of documentary films Kate Townsend said it’s “really hard” to reflect other female stories.

Meanwhile, Lewis Capaldi, Wham!, Tyson Fury and Mark Cavendish are among the high-profile men to get documentaries.

Series following David Beckham and Robbie Williams will also be released on the platform in the coming months.

Townsend told the Edinburgh TV Festival it was easier to depict the lives of women in dramas than documentaries.

“It’s a historical thing, it’s just they’re victims and they’re hookers, and we just need to expand that.”

Real-life stories about women doing other things or “being baddies sometimes” would be great, she said.

‘Iconic women’ wanted

Improving representation behind the camera has been more successful, with women directing almost half of documentaries.

“But the on-screen presence – reflecting the diversity of what women are actually doing out there is really hard,” Townsend said.

Earlier this month, Netflix released a film about Blackman, who was abducted and killed in Japan more than 20 years ago.

In September, the streamer will launch a three-part series titled Who Killed Jill Dando?, 24 years after the BBC presenter was shot dead on her doorstep.

In contrast, recent and forthcoming Netflix documentaries have followed male British stars like Capaldi, Fury, Beckham and Williams.

Netflix UK head of documentary series Adam Hawkins said: “What do they all have in common? Well, they’re men.”

He told programme-makers at the festival he would “love” to receive ideas for documentaries about “iconic British women”.

In Edinburgh on Wednesday, the streamer announced a new film about Albert Einstein’s relationship with the atomic bomb, and a series using rare footage filmed by soldiers on the frontline in World War Two.

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