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The Bechdel Bill is Working to Put the Bechdel Test Into Action

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The Bechdel Test may measure the female presence in a film, but in truth, it can’t do anything to increase it without others taking action and working to assure that more films find a place for real female characters. That’s where The Bechdel Bill, a new organization based out of Toronto, comes in.

The Bechdel Bill, started by two Canadian women and film professionals (Imogen Grace, a Braveheart fan except when it comes to female roles, and Joella Crichton), hopes to get film companies and filmmakers to vow that 80 per cent of their films will pass the Bechdel Test, or rather, feature at least two named women who speak to each other about something other than men. It’s not a lot to ask considering that those conditions can be easily met with a short small talk session between minor female characters (this is sad to think about, isn’t it?), but it could lead to bigger changes as those pledging would be forced to rethink every single female character they’re creating and her relationships to other characters, male and female. And at the very least, it should continue the ongoing conversation about women and diversity in film and what we can do, as viewers and creators, to help support both.

A conversation certainly started up on Friday at the Spoke Club in Toronto, where The Bechdel Bill had their official launch event. Several filmmakers were in attendance, including Into the Forest director Patricia Rozema, and many of them made the pledge, then and there, while also participating in a panel about the industry and gender. It was as if Grace and Crichton were putting the Bechdel Test right into action, not only having many different women come out to stand on stage, but also making sure they were given a platform to speak and speak about issues concerning themselves and their peers. That’s more than you can say for a lot of film events, and films for that matter. And that’s why we need organizations like this.

As a burgeoning filmmaker and ongoing supporter of women’s roles in the film industry, both from a creator perspective and critic perspective, I was so hoping to attend The Bechdel Test’s launch and hear from Grace, Crichton and all these other filmmakers. (Unfortunately, a sudden family crisis prevented me from doing so.) But I am hoping to be at every other event The Bechdel Bill holds, as I think it could really bring about some change in this industry. I’m already trying to get my working partner to pledge to the bill with his start-up production company and I’m telling everyone else I know who is working in the local industry about it. We have to do whatever we can do to increase visibility of women and other minorities on screen and supporting organizations such as The Bechdel Bill is one step in the right direction.

At this point in time, The Bechdel Bill does not have an official website, but if you would like to learn more, head over to their Facebook page, or Twitter profile.

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