Welcome to the 52 Female films challenge! This blog has been set-up to document my progress in watching 52 films in 2020 directed, written, produced by women OR with a strong female cast.
Why undertake this challenge in 2020?
As a society, we’ve come so far but still have so far to go. This is certainly demonstrated by the increased number of films directed, written & produced by women in the last twenty years.
I work in an industry which also had its time on the screen in the brilliant program Mad Men. The industry has certainly moved on from the 60’s however anecdotally there is more men in senior roles than women. Fortunately this is changing at a rapid pace. I am fortunate to now work in an agency when I am judged less by my looks and personality and more so by the quality of my work, however, not all agencies and divisions within agencies are like this.
The opportunity for improving diversity in Film is upon us.
Films and TV programs are interwoven into the fabric of our culture & society. They tell important stories, entertain us and inform us about moments that have impacted the present and hope to shape our future. They also present an opportunity for escapism, particularly now with the ease of streaming, we can enter different worlds at the touch of a button. I have chosen films over TV for this challenge because I have seen a greater improvement in diversity within TV series’, both on screen and behind the lens, but less so in films. As a frequent movie viewer, it appears there is still some way to go with films.
When I first started researching the list for the challenge, I was surprised by some of the films directed by women, particularly those with mostly male casts or atypical female genres, this is something I wouldn’t do with a film directed by a man. This is despite viewing myself as a feminist without any bias or stereotypes. This proved to me how essential it is to undertake this challenge and for other people to see these films. My ultimate goal is that one day female directors/producers/writers don’t need to be highlighted or singled out for the amazing work they are doing, because it is the norm.
I am not here to critique, but to celebrate.
This blog has not been created to critique the films in the traditional sense, I certainly don’t regard myself as a critic. I am an avid movie watcher who sees an opportunity to highlight brilliant work by women within the film industry whether that is in front of the lens, behind the lens, producing or writing. #metoo and #timesup brought a lot of awareness to this issue. My task, and that of all women, (and men) is to ensure this isn’t forgotten. Now is the time to continue to drive for change across the screen. For a better reflection of society’s gender, race & sexual diversity and it is up to the paying public to show the film houses that it matters to us. I am a strong, independent, assertive woman and it’s not something I see reflected enough within films and TV shows.
In our modern society where women’s roles have changed, many children’s TV programs have an uneven split between male & female characters. ie: Paw Patrol, Power Rangers, PJ Masks and they all follow traditional gender norms with girls in pink & red clothing and boys in blue & green. Why is that? My children are at an extremely influential age and I don’t want them assuming the characters they see on TV & in films are a reflection of society. I feel an overwhelming responsibility to do more and this challenge is one simple, albeit not easy way, to do this.
I also see this reflected in basic items such as stationary. Both my son and daughter love stationery but the purchase of stationery is tainted by gender bias. The ‘girls’ stationery is predominantly pink (apparently girls don’t like blue, green or yellow) and the boys is blue or green. Why in 2019/2020 is this still happening? I’m not saying there is anything wrong with girls liking glitter, rainbows and pink (my daughter loves it). There is however something wrong with the presumption that that’s all they like and boys only like blues, greys and greens, when in fact every colour of the rainbow is suitable for both genders.
The purpose of this blog.
To define the scope of this project, the films I have choose will meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Directed by a woman
- Women writers or producers
- Mostly female cast or strong characters
- Films prior to 2000. I wanted to include some older films that challenged conventions in their day
Although the focus of each post will be on the film, I also want to write about the brilliant women who put the films together as well as find out why the films were made and review (where possible) against the Bechdel test.
The task at hand is a challenging one.
A year seems like a long time to watch 52 films & write about them, particularly when viewing it from the starting line of January 2020. However, time moves fast & life gets in the way. Making this task a primary focus this year is in itself challenging.
I have wanted to undertake this challenge for quite sometime however there have been other priorities, namely raising young children. As I’m sure a number of people appreciate, time is a precious commodity and until now, I haven’t had the time to dedicate myself to a task such as this. I was finally pushed to start this challenge after reading the November edition of National Geographic. The whole month was dedicated to women. Brave, strong, passionate, hard working women from all walks of life were celebrated. I was inspired by the stories I read to finally put my idea into action.
I know achieving my goal won’t be easy. My life is extremely busy and I am pulled in a million directions. I am guilty like most women of putting myself last and this challenge is an opportunity for me to do something I’ll enjoy and I can share with my family and friends. The last thing I want is for this to turn into another chore. The reality of modern life and my personality is that it’s not going to slow down anytime soon and there is no better time than now to start. I’m hoping a result of undertaking this challenge is that those close to me start watching these films as well and it becomes a shared experience both in person and on social media.
This is also a personal challenge for me. I would like to improve my writing ability. I’m not exactly a fantastic wordsmith. What is the best way to improve a skill, dive into that glacial deep end and give it a go! So, I expect by the end of this year to be a masterful wordsmith, with exceptional writing skills and to ensure I’m managing my own expectations, I’ll be happy if I become even a teensy bit better at writing. I am lucky to have a wonderful friend, Megan who will be critiquing all of my work prior to publishing to ensure what I am writing is legible, clear and concise.
The list is finalised and the challenge starts.
My list of 52 films is finalised and was more difficult to put together than I expected. Not because I couldn’t get to 52 but because my final list was 82 films….and growing. I was surprised when I got to the final number, I assumed the list would not be this long and it would take a lot of research to find the 52 films. I was very happy to be proven wrong. It was also important to me to ensure there was diversity and included films from countries other than the United States such as Australia, Saudi Arabia, France, Lebanon, Britain and New Zealand. It also includes actors like Hanks, Streep, Fonda and a Hemsworth, because it wouldn’t be a film blog by an Australian without at least one Hemsworth.
Although the list of 52 is finalised, it is in no way complete and I am hoping the readers of this blog will be able to provide me with more films to add that I can continue to watch and write after 2020.