Film Forward

New 'F-Rating' Highlights Movies That Will Make Your Inner Feminist Jump For Joy

Girl power is alive and well in the world of cinema.

We're all used to the Motion Picture Association of America's rating system of films, but there's an additional notation you're going to want to pay attention to from now on: the F-rating. 

Holly Tarquini, a director and producer who is also the head of the U.K.-based Bath Film Festival, recently gave a TED Talk that outlined why she created this movement of labeling feminist movies in 2014, provided some shocking statistics about women in film, and revealed a personal reason for seeking to highlight these works.

As an 8-year-old, Tarquini noted that what she "most wanted in the whole world was to be a boy" — even going as far as changing her name from Holly to George, and refusing to answer to anything but this new identity. Tarquini's mother was curious as to why Tarquini was doing this and asked a psychologist for their input. The psychologist, who happened to be a woman, determined that Tarquini was "a fascinating girl" who was "highly original and imaginative, and sees that boys have much more exciting lives."

"What the psychologist was recognizing was that I wanted to be the hero of my story. I didn't want to be the sidekick, I didn't want to be the mother or the love interest, and I definitely didn't want to be the damsel in distress," Tarquini said. "I wanted to be the protagonist of my own story."

See the full TED Talk here:

Tarquini said the idea for the "F-rating came about when a friend suggested that they highlight films that passed the Bechdel test. The Bechdel test, created by cartoonist Alison Bechdel in 1985, is a standard that asks whether or not works of fiction meet a few requirements: (1) There have to be two women (2) who talk to each other (3) about something other than a man.

Further convincing Tarquini to pursue this new venture for films was the statistic that, out of the top 100 films of 2014, only two were directed by women. Worse yet, the 98 percent of that crop which were directed by men didn't even accurately represent half of the population, as the directors tended to be primarily White, cisgendered, heterosexual, middle class, middle-aged, able-bodied American men — something Tarquini noted is "pretty niche." Statistics on the movement's site break down the top 250 films of 2015 and note that women made up just 3.6 percent of all directors, 4.4 percent of all writers, and 10.4 percent of all producers.

The F-rating, as the movement's site breaks it down, is applied to films that meet at least one of these three requirements: they are either directed by a woman or women, they are either written by a woman or women, or that they star significant women in their own rights. There's even a coveted "Triple F-rating," which is a distinction for films that have all of the above.

IMDb, the popular online movie database, has even adopted the F-rating and added a tag that can be found in the site's search function to highlight films that meet the standard set forth by Tarquini. You can scroll through the nearly 22,000 films that are F-rated here

The British Film Institute is even partnering with the people behind the F-rating for a free hackathon today, March 7, to teach people how to continue tagging films on IMDb with the F-rating tag — so look for the list to continue growing.

"My ambition for the F-rating is that it becomes redundant, that we no longer need it, that the stories that we see on screen reflect us, [and] that they're told by women, by people of color, by disabled people, by LGBT people, and not just by those White, cis, heterosexual, middle class, middle-aged, able-bodied American men, but told by people like us and about us," Tarquni said. "My personal ambition for the F-rating is that my daughters and their children won't feel as though they have to change genders to be the heroes of their own stories."

(H/T: Bath Chronicle)

Cover image: Walt Disney Animation Studios / YouTube