November 6, 2013

Swedish cinemas launch feminist movie rating

To get an ‘A’ rating, a movie must have at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man.

By Malin Rising
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

The director of art-house movie theatre Bio Rio in Stockholm, Ellen Tejle holds a Bechdel test approval “A” certificate.

The Associated Press

“There are far too many films that pass the Bechdel test that don’t help at all in making society more equal or better, and lots of films that don’t pass the test but are fantastic at those things,” said Swedish film critic Hynek Pallas.

Pallas, who moved from communist Czechoslovakia to Sweden in the 1970s, also criticized the state-funded Swedish Film Institute — the biggest financier of Swedish film — for vocally supporting the project, saying a state institution should not “send out signals about what one should or shouldn’t include in a movie.”

Research in the U.S. supports the notion that women are underrepresented on the screen and that little has changed in the past 60 years.

Of the U.S. top 100 films in 2011, women accounted for 33 percent of all characters and only 11 percent of the protagonists, according to a study by the San Diego-based Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.

Another study, by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, showed the ratio of male to female characters in movies has remained at about two to one for at least six decades. That study, which examined 855 top box-office films from 1950-2006, showed female characters were twice as likely to be seen in explicit sexual scenes as males, while male characters were more likely to be seen as violent.

“Apparently Hollywood thinks that films with male characters will do better at the box office. It is also the case that most of the aspects of movie-making — writing, production, direction, and so on — are dominated by men, and so it is not a surprise that the stories we see are those that tend to revolve around men,” Amy Bleakley, the study’s lead author, said in an email.

In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director for “The Hurt Locker.” That movie — a war film about a bomb disposal team in Iraq — doesn’t pass the Bechdel test.

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