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A New International Film Competition Moves Beyond the Bechdel Test

A New International Film Competition Moves Beyond the Bechdel Test

One of the oldest chapters of Women in Film and Video is teaming up with Harvard Square Script Writers to launch Flicks4Chicks, a new international film contest. The two Boston-based non-profits grew tired of seeing poorly developed female characters on the festival circuit, and devised Flicks4Chicks as a way to ensure more nuanced depictions of women on screen, as well as more gender diversity behind the scenes.

Filmmakers are encouraged to complete a film that’s less than ten minutes in length. But they only have one month to do so (April 1 to May 1). This requirement has been put in place to save filmmakers from themselves: There’s no time to procrastinate with such an ambitious production schedule. 

Each team must include at least one woman in a lead creative role: director, writer, producer, cinematographer, editor or DP. Participants must also include a central female character in their short. 

Genine Tillotson, President of Harvard Square Script Writers, told Women and Hollywood that the idea is “to go beyond the Bechdel Test. Not only does the competition ask that the female characters do something other than discuss a man, they should be challenged to become mistresses of their own destinies, have adventures [and engage in] sismances — the equivalent of a bromance.” Filmmakers will be provided with some inspiration for their shorts — some will be based on real-life news stories. Potential topics include a grandmother reinventing herself and an adolescent battling depression. 

The top submissions will be screened and honored on June 29 and 30 as part of Different Faces, Different Voices, a newly created festival striving towards more diversity in film. Two films will be awarded $2,500 each. 

As for the name of the contest, Tillotson said, “We think it’s time to take back [the term chick flick] and re-frame its meaning. What is a chick flick anyway? Something that focuses on relationships and the emotions of the characters? A film not built around war or annihilation or the pursuit of absolute power? Most importantly, a story involving a female where we get a glimmer of her perspective and goals? Why is that inferior?” She continued, “Why is a film of that type held to a different standard and belittled by the industry, when blockbusters like ‘Gone With The Wind,’ ‘Pretty Woman,’ ‘Thelma & Louise’ and ‘Bridesmaids’ have proven there is a huge audience for these stories?'” 

Rather than fearing the label, the team behind Flicks4Chicks embraced it. 

All 44 chapters of Women in Film and Television have been invited to participate. Members will receive a discount. 
For more information on the contest visit Flicks4Chicks. Details about prizes and deadlines can be found here. You can sign up now. The payment deadline is March 27.

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