Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Women directors, women screenwriters, and the Bechdel Test

To pass the Bechdel Test, a movie has to fulfill these criteria:

1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it

2. Who talk to each other

3. About something besides a man

Doesn't sound too hard, does it?  And yet about half of the movies in the Bechdel Test database fail the test.  More than 10% failed all the criteria.  Just to recap, that means they didn't have more than one named female character in the whole movie.

Here is a list of some of the IMDb's top-rated films, measured against the Bechdel Test.  And here are some graphs.

So where are all the women?  Well, probably the same place all the female screenwriters and directors are.  In Hollywood, 19% of screenwriters are women.  In television it's 28%.

And, far from getting easier, it's actually getting harder for women to get writing work in Hollywood.  You can read more about that here.

As you'd expect, there's a connection between the number of women working as writers, directors and producers, and the number of female characters onscreen.  More on that here.

From The Guardian:
"The irony is that women were in at the birth of cinema. The silent era was a golden age with female screenwriters writing half of all movies between 1911 and 1925. Jane Cussons, chief executive of the industry body Women in Film and Television, says: 'Just think of Alice Guy Blache, who was the first woman ever to direct a movie. She directed 400 films, produced hundreds more and ran her own studio. Then when sound came in, film making became big business. Men moved in and women just got sidelined.'"

[you can read the whole article here

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