We had the great pleasure of attending a recent event hosted by New Mexico Women in Film welcoming filmmaker Helene Granqvist to beautiful New Mexico!
The evening opened with a 3-minute film that highlighted shocking facts about the portrayal of women and minorities in film. Set against a reinforcing montage compiled with decades of supporting scenes, I was stricken, sad and inspired. Helene then solidified that inspiration with a thoughtful discussion on how Women in Film & TV in Sweden and the Nordic countries have shifted opportunity AND content!
They are helping educate their community and are moving toward 50/50 gender equality in pay and opportunity through initiatives such as the 'A-List Campaign - A campaign to raise awareness about women's representation in film' using the Bechdel Wallace test; passing films that have:
At least two named female characters
Talking to each other
About something other than a man
Yes, it is that simple...and that rare, even in modern films! We recommend checking out the A-list website to learn more about these campaigns and how local cinemas are implementing the rating. This also initiated the Chavez Perez Test, invented by Swedish author Inti Chavez Perez and tests films for:
At least two non-white people
Talking to each other
About something besides crime
It is the use of statistical data and these progressive initiatives that is the real wisdom of how this group is starting to show true gains in educating their community. I can say I have known equal representation in film isn't there, but I did not understand the severe extremes of minimalized opportunities are for minorities in film prior to this educational evening. For example; I learned that in a snapshot of a recent 7-year span of films only 0.004% had a black director....over SEVEN years!
It is clear that change is necessary. To be effective and sustainable the change we need will need to come from those that have been excluded. Made minorities in this industry need to stop fighting for the one seat at the "cool kids" table. Instead, we will sit with each other at the inclusive table and create together. If the studios and powerful in this industry won't adapt they will not have our contributions to fuel their greed. There are enough of us to make great films, the notion we "need" the currently named powerful in this industry is simply not true.
We are aware at ASE that film can inform and entertain audiences when made considerately. What disappoints me about film is that with all the opportunity to be unique, creative and visionary the industry largely stays within the confines of 'formulas' that return ticket sales and the storytelling is treated as a by-product to the churn of returns. Film can be both, we can tell great stories that reflect the real make-up of our communities and sell tickets. We can pay people equally for their roles and still make great profits for those who invested in us. These are all ANDS no buts about it!
WIFT Sweden is making the ANDS in their community. It is the education as the resolution that I admire about their great efforts. Helene brought forward the perspective of thinking and then thinking further about our challenges is how we will find solutions that make an impact. We should never wait for those creating the problems to wake up and offer solutions. If we want the lives we want in this industry, we must come together and collectively contribute to solutions. The team at ASE looks forward to supporting, engaging and growing efforts like this across the industry!