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SF Studios boss out amid sexism scandal

The CEO of Scandinavia’s SF Studios is leaving the Bonnier-owned company amid a scandal over an allegedly sexist corporate culture and improper conduct at the recent Cannes film festival.

Jonas ForsJonas Fors will leave his position, effective immediately, with deputy CEO and COO Frida Westerberg covering as a new chief executive is sought.

Bonnier released a statement through board member Ulrika Saxon saying that Fors “can no longer successfully serve as leader for SF Studios” following numerous reports emanating from the film festival.

Reports allege SF Studios, which rebranded from its previous Svensk Filmindustri moniker last month, has a sexist internal culture and that its staff had rented a yacht and visited strip clubs in Cannes last month.

SVT Kulturnyheterna reported that more than 20 women had left the studio since Fors took over three years ago, though management had rejected claims this was due to a macho culture.

“In recent days, harsh criticism has been levelled at SF Studios regarding the company’s corporate culture, in particular in connection with gender equality, as well as regarding the company’s conduct at the film festival in Cannes and the company’s business model for its film and TV productions,” Saxon’s statement read.

“We take the criticism very seriously. In terms of SF Studios’ corporate culture, two images of the company stand diametrically opposed to each other, especially concerning gender equality.

“On one side, 60 per cent of the company’s employees are women, the executive management team is evenly divided between men and women, and there are women in a number of the most central leadership positions. On the other side are accusations of sexism.

“In order to get to the facts concerning the company’s work culture, we will be bringing in a third party to conduct a thorough survey among SF Studios’ employees.”

Fors had joined SF Studios ups CEO on a merger with Wallander producer Tre Vänner in 2013. In her statement, Saxon praised his achievements while running the business, noting SF Studios had gone from “big losses in 2013-2-14, to slightly better than breaking even in 2015”.

“SF Studios will continue to invest heavily in Swedish and Nordic films in the future, so it is crucial that the production business be economically viable. In order to do so, SF Studios must continue to attract top talents from within the industry,” she added.

“To succeed in this will require both a good work environment within the corporate organisation as well as the confidence of other players in the industry.”

SF Studios, one of Europe’s oldest studios, recently launched a kids-focused SVOD service as it attempts to better monetise a huge catalogue of Nordic-produced films and TV programmes.