‘The Bechdel Test’ was inspired by cartoonist Alison Bechdel‘s 1985 tongue-in-cheek comic strip ‘The Rule’ which became a basic measure to see if women are fairly represented in a film. It’s is also referred to as the Bechdel-Wallace test Alison credited the idea for the test to her friend Liz Wallace.
For a film to pass The Bechdel Test, the movie must simply have the following:
1: It must have at least two female characters
2: They must both have names
3: They must talk to each other about something other than a man
Simple, right? You’d think so…
Of the 25 top grossing movies of 2016, a measly half passed the test. Considering the ridiculously low bar in order for the film to pass – that’s pretty poor. Also, research conducted by The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film discovered that of the 4,370 speaking named characters from the top-grossing films in 2015, only 31.4% were women and 26.3% were underrepresented racial/ethnic groups.
The test is not a measure of how good or ‘feminist’ a film is but it does highlight just how male-dominated cinema really is. It’s a simple, albeit imperfect test, but as author Alison Bechdel herself says ‘it’s a bit of fun’. It gives us something to think and do something about.
What started as a year-long project to mark the Bechdel Test’s 30th anniversary in 2015 is now an ongoing celebration of films that succeed in representing women in a positive and progressive light. We look to the unearth hidden gems and new releases, and cover the spectrum of those who identify as female. We host events at various venues in London and go nationwide when we can.
We screen throughout the year and cover as many genres as possible. We love talking about film and always aim to have a post-screening discussion, usually with special guest speakers.
Just so you know…
The Bechdel Test Fest is not just-for-women! We love men too. We particularly love men who come to our events, get involved and make films that portray a genuine, fair and accurate representation of their opposite sex.
The festival is for everyone! Our program aims to include seasonal films of all genres and caters for all ages.
We named ‘The Bechdel Test Fest’ after the ‘Dykes to Watch Out For’ comic strip episode The Rule by Alison Bechdel, but not in collaboration with the artist herself. Alison Bechdel is not personally involved in this organisation in any way.