While women might not be faring well behind cameras, on camera it pays to have the presence of women. How can one measure the presence of women on screen? What makes a film feminist? Is a token appearance or a one-off line by a female character enough?
Enter the Bechdel Test and the Mako Mori Test. Both are tests/tools that can be used to indicate the presence of women in the film you are watching. Neither test necessarily indicates that the film is feminist, they merely indicate the role of women in the particular story you are watching, and might suggest whether or not the female characters are well rounded, engaging, dynamic, or just tired old stereotypes.
As we start a new year of women in film, it seems pertinent to take a look back and see how far we came in 2013.
THE BAD NEWS
The past year has definitely had its highs and lows. San Diego State University’s Centre for the Study of Women in Television and Film had the tough job of crunching the numbers, delivering the sobering news in their annual ‘Celluloid Ceiling’ report that 2013 was a huge low for women employed in film.
As Variety pointed out, 2013 represented the lowest levels of women employed in film production since 1998. Sixteen years of hard work, and women in film are still making high quality work, but not getting the support or credit they need to continue to make it in the film industry.
The Celluloid Ceiling survey showed that in the top-grossing 250 domestic pictures shown, employment of women for these films was only at 16%. Compare this to where we were are at in 2012 (18%), and 1998 (17%).