October 17, 2013

Indie Film: Where are women in films?

The latest Bluestocking Film Series event will show you.

By Dennis Perkins

You don’t have to be a film geek (like, well, me) to recognize that women are under-represented in the movies. If you doubt that fact, try watching your next film with the Bechdel Test in mind.

click image to enlarge

The Bluestocking Film Series presents the short film “Good Night,” about two teens whose plans for a night on the town swiftly get out of hand.

Courtesy photo




Friday: “Damnationland.” It’s baaaaack! For the fourth year in a row, we’re in for an anthology of five of the most terrifying, original, Maine-made horror films in all the land. Bring your friends – and possibly a dry pair of pants. If you miss the State Theatre screening – or just can’t get enough – head down to Ogunquit for an encore showing at the Leavitt Theatre (leavittheatre.com) on Saturday.




Thursday and Wednesday: “CBGB.” Alan Rickman stars as Hilly Kristal, pioneering proprietor of the titular legendary rock club that became the birthplace of the New York City punk scene. Packed with great music – if you have taste, of course.

Created in 1985 by writer Alison Bechdel, the Bechdel Test isn’t some comprehensive overhaul of the motion picture industry. In fact, it sets the bar ridiculously low in order to point out how women characters are traditionally portrayed in fiction. As you watch (or read), just ask three simple questions:

1. Are there at least two women in the work?

2. Do they talk to each other for more than a few seconds?

3. If they do, is it about something other than a man?

Go ahead. Think about your favorite movie. It probably fails. Heck, I just finished reviewing an entire season of a would-be prestigious TV cop drama and in its 10-episode run, I’m fairly sure it flunks the Bechdel Test. Ten episodes of TV. Think about that …

The women at the Bluestocking Film Series sure have. Their series continues its mission of showcasing woman-made short films which, apart from being great movies from around the world, also pass the Bechdel Test with flying colors.

The latest Bluestocking Film night is Saturday at Maine College of Art’s Osher Hall in Portland. The show starts at 7 p.m., with tickets running just $5 in advance ($7 at the door) – check bluestockingfilms.com for details.

So what will you see this time around? According to the Bluestocking description: “Astronauts? Check. Zombies and lesbians? Check. WWII resistance fighters? Check. Teenage girls on the prowl, a grandmother with an unconventional diet, and a businesswoman on an obstacle course to work? Yes.”

Having had the opportunity to see a few of the films, I can confirm that description is accurate, and also that anyone attending the screening is in for an excitingly varied night out at the movies.

“Good Night,” a British short directed by Muriel D’Ansembourg is a naturalistic and harrowing portrait of two sexually precocious 14-year-old British girls whose plans for a night on the town quickly get out of hand. Nominated for a mantel-ful of awards (including a BAFTA, the British Academy Award), it’s an insightful and sobering depiction of how dangerous the world is for young women insufficiently experienced in navigating it.

“Plan B,” directed by Shirin Brown, is insightful in its own way (while being much more lighthearted and energetic) as it follows a professional single mother’s increasingly desperate and surreal efforts to fulfill all of her responsibilities.

All in all, this installment of the Bluestocking Film Series promises something for everyone – and more for women than usual.

Dennis Perkins is a Portland freelance writer.

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