Bechdel Test Fest: New film festival celebrates the fair representation of women in movies

Events will run all year to raise the profile of progressive filmmaking

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The Independent Culture

Feminists listen up, there’s a brand new film festival in town promoting great movies that present women in a “positive and progressive” light.

Bechdel Test Fest has been set up to celebrate 30 years of Alison Bechdel’s comic strip “rule” that measures the fair (or otherwise) representation of women on the big screen.

For a film to pass the Bechdel Test it must tick these three boxes:

1) It must feature a minimum of two female characters

2) Both of these characters must be named

3) They must share at least one conversation about something other than a man

This might not sound like much of a task but, according to the festival, just 15 per cent of the top 100 films released in 2013 had a lead female character and by June last year, less than half of mainstream movies passed the test.

Of course, movies can pass the Bechdel Test and still be sexist, but it is arguably a good indicator of female presence in cinema.


Bechdel Test Fest will run for a year and feature the films that “pass the test with flying colours”. There will screenings throughout 2015 and a main event in September on Bechdel’s birthday complete with debates, panel sessions and shorts from upcoming filmmakers.

The first event will be “Reclaim the Rom-Com” on Sunday 8 February. Rom-com experts will be on hand to discuss “the problems and solutions to female roles in romantic comedies” and there will be screenings of Obvious Child and The Philadelphia Story, starring Katharine Hepburn.

Then there will be “Little Women, Big Stories” focusing on young female leads in empowering roles in March and “Horror Harem” for Halloween about inspiring women in the horror genre.

Film fans are invited to submit shorts less than 15 minutes in length for the festival, so long as they meet the test’s requirements of course.

Wondering which of your favourite films pass or fail the Bechdel Test? Check out the online movie list