March 7 2017
The Internet movie database IMDb has introduced an “F-rating” designation in an effort to draw positive attention to films deemed feminist.
IMDb’s fouder and CEO, Col Needham, told the Bath Chronicle that the rating was “a great way to highlight women on screen and behind the camera.”
The idea for the F-rating began in 2014, at the Bath Film Festival, and has caught on in the UK, where it has been adopted by about 40 British theaters and film festivals, the BBC reported. The Bath Film Festival’s director, Holly Tarquini, even delivered a TedX Youth talk last year promoting the concept.
The F-rating designation is given to female-written or –directed films. It also applies to movies that feature strong female protagonists.
The third qualification is broader than the so-called Bechdel Test, a popular way to determine whether a movie is progressive by looking at whether in scenes where two female characters appear together they discuss something other than a male character.
“When we looked into it more, there were lots of films that didn’t pass [the Bechdel test] but should because they have amazingly strong female protagonists,” the Bath Film Festival’s Tarquini said in 2014. “So Gravity, for example, doesn’t pass it because Sandra Bullock doesn’t talk to any other women, and yet she’s clearly an amazing female lead. We wanted to take it a step further and highlight films which either had a senior figure in production who was female—a director or a screenwriter – or had very strong female leads or women’s issues.”
About 21,800 films on IMDb pass those standards, including Frozen, The Girl on the Train, and Bridget Jones’s Baby.
Since its inception in 2014, the F designation has been controversial. The chief executive of Women in Film and Television UK said in 2014 that while she liked the idea of the rating, she hoped it wasn’t used to restrict creative expression.
Similarly, an editor for the British film magazine Empire told the Independent that “certain people would be inclined to mock [the F-rating], and that would probably balance out the positive effect that it would have.”
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.