by Katie Rosseinsky
Thanks to successes like Rogue One and the Ghostbusters reboot, female-led films hit a record high in 2016. This year, we’ve seen Hidden Figures, the true story of three African-American women working as NASA mathematicians, pull in record numbers at the box office, while films spotlighting female stories – like Jackie, Arrival and Certain Women – have gained widespread acclaim.
Despite these successes, the film industry still has plenty of work to do when it comes to better representing women, both on-screen and behind the camera. Now, film site IMDb has adopted a new classification, the ‘F-Rating,’ to support female-led films – and to highlight how far we have to go to fully address Hollywood’s gender bias.
The F-Rating was first created by Holly Tarquini, director of the Bath Film Festival, back in 2014, and has since been taken on by over 40 cinemas and film festivals in the UK. Inspired by the Bechdel Test, the F-Rating can be applied to films that portray women in a significant, positive way. To receive the rating, a film must either:
- Be directed by a woman,
- Be written by a woman,
- Or feature significant women on screen in their own right, passing the Bechdel Test.
So far, around 21,800 films have been tagged with the F-Rating on IMDb, with its founder and CEO Col Needham telling the BBC that ‘the F-Rating is a great way to highlight women on screen and behind the camera.’
Films as apparently dissimilar as Disney singalong Frozen, rom-com ‘threequel’ Bridget Jones’ Baby and Andrea Arnold’s latest, American Honey, all receive a triple F-Rating, meeting all three of the above criteria.
Other films with an F-Rating include Pitch Perfect 2, The Girl on the Train, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and – wild card – Kung Fu Panda 2.
‘The F-Rating is intended to make people talk about the representation of women on and off screen,’ Tarquini said, discussing IMDb’s move. ‘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 percent of the stories we see on screen are told by and about film’s unfairly under-represented half of the population – women.’