How movies are rated has been a long-contested fight between filmmakers and rating organisations. Whether a film contains nudity, swearing, sex and violence will affect its rating, but these systems usually spite equality for women – eye-opening 2006 documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated uncovered that movies showing women receiving oral pleasure were given much higher ratings than those with men getting head.
But a new initiative is flipping Hollywood sexism on its head.
The Internet Movie Database, which you know as IMDb or The Life-Saving Database About Everything To Do With Films has adopted the ‘F-rating’ system, which gives credit to films that are directed or written by women or primarily feature female characters.
To be awarded an F-rating, a film must be one of the following:
- Directed by a woman
- Written by a woman
- Features significant women on screen in their own right
It also signposts movies that pass the Bechdel Test, the test which analyses if a work of fiction meets the criteria of containing at least two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man or boy.
However, the test is slightly problematic and has received criticism for oversimplifying sexism or misogyny in filmmaking. A Bechdel pass or a Bechdel fail doesn't determine whether a movie has a gender bias or not. It is far more complex than that. Some do claim though that the test is just a 'place to start'.
The F-rating was invented by Bath Film Festival director Holly Tarquini in 2014 as a means of revealing films where females in-front of and behind the camera are represented. Since being picked up by various cinemas and film festivals, 21,800 films have been granted an F-rating.
Now it has been picked up by IMDb, whether women are represented in movies will become far more apparent.The database's founder and CEO Col Needham said, "The F-Rating is a great way to highlight women on screen and behind the camera."
Speaking of the rating, Tarquini revealed that it's "intended to make people talk about the representation of women on and off screen," adding:
"It's exciting when new organisations decide to join us in shining a light both on the brilliant work women are doing in film and on how far the film industry lags behind most other industries, when it comes to providing equal opportunities to women.
"But our real goal is to reach the stage when the F-Rating is redundant because 50% of the stories we see on screen are told by and about film's unfairly under-represented half of the population - women."
So far, American Honey, Bridget Jones’ Baby and Frozen have earned a ‘triple rating’ – the films achieve all three points for the F-rating – while others with a basic F-rating include Metropolis, Kung Fu Panda 2, The Girl on the Train, Freaky Friday and Animal Farm.
There's still a long way to go though. Of the top 250 films released in 2015, women made up only 3.6% of all directors, 4.4% of all writers and 10.4% of all producers. Furthermore, over the 88-year history of the Oscars, not a single woman has ever been nominated in the best cinematography category. The award has only been granted to men.