Move over A-rating, there's a new letter in town. IMDb has followed the example set by the Bath Film Festival and adopted a progressive F-rating system, which ranks films based on their inclusion of women. So far, the website has ranked almost 21,800 films using the rating system.
The F-rating was invented by Holly Tarquini, executive director of the Bath Film Festival. Tarquini implemented the system at the 2014 festival, and has since been adopted by dozens of UK cinemas, the Bath Comedy Festival and the Barbican Centre in London.
IMDb's founder and CEO Col Needham told the Bath Chronicle that the system is "a great way to highlight women on screen and behind the camera."
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What Is The F-Rating?
The criteria is simple. To earn an F-Rating, a film must be either:
- Written by women
- Directed by women
- Feature significant female characters
Obviously, the more boxes the film can tick, the better. Three ticks equals a triple F-Rating.
According to the F-Rating website, the rating serves to help viewers "choose films that fairly represent women on screen and behind the camera", making it easier to actively support women in film:
"Highlighting these films sends a clear message to distributors, producers and funders that women can and should have more than just a supporting role within the industry."
Tarquini told the Bath Chronicle that she was thrilled to see the system adopted by IMDb:
"It's exciting when new organizations decide to join us in shining a light both on the brilliant work women are doing in film and on how far the film industry lags behind most other industries when it comes to providing equal opportunities to women. But our real goal is to reach the stage when the F rating is redundant because 50 per cent of the stories we see on screen are told by and about film's unfairly under-represented half of the population - women."
What About The Bechdel Test?
The F-Rating isn't the first feminist ratings system used to assess the inclusion and representation of women in film. Since 1985, the Bechdel test has shined a critical light on female characters in film. To pass the test, a film is required to meet the following criteria: at least two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a male character.
The Bechdel Test served as the foundation of Ellen Tejle's A-Rating system, which was adopted by cinemas in Sweden. Like the F-Rating, it allowed cinema-goers to support movies that represented women in a less clichéd light. However, the F-Rating looks beyond narrative and considers the role of women in production as well.
Which Films Made The List?
The best thing about the F-Rating is it includes an array of films from a wide variety of genres. There's female-directed movies such as Animal Farm and Deep Impact; movies from female writers like Metropolis and Daisies; and of course, movies with "significant" female characters— like Tangerine, Picnic at Hanging Rock and the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot.
Frozen, American Honey and Bridget Jones's Baby tick all three boxes, earning themselves the proud title of Triple F-Rated.
Of course, this doesn't mean that viewers should boycott any film that doesn't meet the F-Rating requirements. What the F-Rating is trying to do is showcase films that make the effort to represent women on screen, as well as celebrate female writers and directors.
It also brings awareness to the issue of under-representation in the film industry, encouraging discourse and hopefully action to remedy the gender gap in all industries. As Tarquini says, "the F-rating is intended to make people talk about the representation of women on and off screen."
What do you think about the F-Rating system?