Four Swedish movie theaters have started publishing gender scores for the movies they exhibit, based on the films' ability to pass the Bechdel Test ("must have at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man"). A surprising number of movies fail this test. The initiative is supported by the Swedish Film Institute, a government agency that represents a major source of funding for Swedish film, and one of the region's cable operators is devoting a Sunday to movies that pass the test, which comes from Alison Bechdel's excellent comic, Dykes to Watch Out For.
"The entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, all Star Wars movies, The Social Network, Pulp Fiction and all but one of the Harry Potter movies fail this test," said Ellen Tejle, the director of Bio Rio, an art-house cinema in Stockholm's trendy Södermalm district.
Bio Rio is one of four Swedish cinemas that launched the new rating last month to draw attention to how few movies pass the Bechdel test. Most filmgoers have reacted positively to the initiative. "For some people it has been an eye-opener," said Tejle.
Beliefs about women's roles in society are influenced by the fact that movie watchers rarely see "a female superhero or a female professor or person who makes it through exciting challenges and masters them", Tejle said, noting that the rating doesn't say anything about the quality of the film. "The goal is to see more female stories and perspectives on cinema screens," he added.
(Image: Alison Bechdel/Dykes to Watch Out For)