September 30, 2016

Why some films get a capital “F”

Irish Examiner Thursday, May 12, 2016

IF YOU get a large ‘F’ stamped on a school or college test then it’s generally bad news — but now it’s a sign of approval for certain films. Films where women aren’t just props for male heroes, and where women are significantly involved in the film production.

We’ve got PG rated and 12s and 18s movies — and now you can look out for F-Rated films as well. This new film classification aims to shine a light on the work women are doing in film.

Basically, if you can answer yes to one or more of these questions about a film, then it earns the F-Rating stamp of approval.

  • Does it have a female director?
  • Is it written by a woman?
  • Are there complex female on-screen characters who exist in their own rights and aren’t simply there to support the male lead?

The F stands for feminist — the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.

F-Rating founder and Bath Film Festival director, Holly Tarquini, will be at the Cinemagic Festival in Dublin next week to discuss this classification.

She explains that this rating is to support women in film and is not about discriminating against men.

“The majority of films are made by white middle-class men — only 3.3% of big-budget feature films (more than £30million) are directed by women. We want to expand who is telling the stories. It is about asking ‘Do we care that almost all the heroes are men’ and ‘Are we happy with that?’.”


Tarquini says she certainly isn’t claiming she’ll expose a secret pact between male directors and producers to stamp down female talent.

“It’s more complicated than that — you have studio executives or directors who are male and people typically nurture people who are like them and that’s when the industry becomes exclusive. So then being brilliant isn’t enough.”

And she’s not too concerned that seeing an F-rating stamp of approval on a film will put men off. “Patriarchy has been putting me off things for a long time. So I don’t think I mind about that.”

Some F-Rated films are indeed celebrated in mainstream arenas — Oscar-winning Room which has Brie Larson in the lead role and was written for screen by Ireland’s own Emma Donoghue, who also wrote the original novel, is one such film. But many others don’t get top-billing in commercial cinemas and are more typically found at film festivals and movie clubs.

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