Hello there. Thank you for being a friend of the Bechdel Bill. We take it to mean that you care about film and think film is important and think that the stories we see and the people within them inform us and shape us and give us something to strive for and that all of this is a beautiful thing.
Funny, that’s what we think, too!
As the general gluttony of the holidays wears off and a whole new year stretches ahead: what do you see? Is it a year of endless possibility and brand new ventures and financial abundance? Are you like me and are both exhilarated and intimidated by new projects and what there is to get done and who there is to email and who should I be this year?! Driven and power-hungry? Or restful and windsome? (I just made that word up). Are you terrified? Are you tired? Are you just done.
Wherever you are, may this be your one and only resolution: In 2016, let’s not be jerks.
Namely, don’t be a jerk to yourself. Last year was what it was. It went exactly how it went and maybe just assume that you got exactly what you needed from it. That wherever you erred or took a misstep, there is treasure. That your point of weakness is the next discovery on your way to mastering your own true uniqueness, or your own unique trueness. The ways in which you endeavored to change the world were bold and beautiful! And yes, the world is still fucked up. In 2015, The Bechdel Bill tried to change the world by having filmmakers make a promise to themselves and the world that the films they make will pass the Bechdel Test. Is there still sexism in the industry? Yes. Are women still categorically left out of positions of power on film sets, are female directors given drastically lower budgets than males, do women still get only 30% of the speaking roles? Yes yes yes. It can be upsetting and discouraging. Frustrating. In the dark times times it can turn resentful. But if instead we choose to reflect on what was great about last year – badass fiction broads like Rey in Star Wars and Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max, the online outrage against #cannesheels, Jennifer Lawrence’s letter on the pay gap, Sweden’s announcement of achieving a 50/50 industry, Patricia Arquette’s words at the Oscars, Viola Davis’ words at the Emmy’s, and all of the other organizations big and small working towards their own idea of a film industry that is empowering rather than demoralizing–well, then we feel the true mobilizing power of sisterhood in our bones.
Over the holiday I finally got the chance to watch the film Wild. It was beautiful and unapologetic and at moments raw and, yes, it passed the Bechdel Test. What really moved me about the film, aside from the rocky vistas American west and the enchantingly heartbreaking relationship between the Cheryl Strayed character (played by Reese Witherspoon) and her mother, was the imperfectness of our protagonist. There’s really nothing heroic about her, just an everyday girl with some regrets and bad choices behind her. What hit me in the gut was her own willingness to embrace everything she was and everything she was not, and just let the wild in.
“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”
So, this year, fellow women in film (whatever your gender), may you go forth bearing all that’s happened so far and all that hasn’t, all you’ve accomplished and all you’ve f’ed up, all that works about this beautiful movie machine and all that is still stuck in middle of last century….and may you unapologetically stand up for yourself and how the world might be.
As we take on the ACTRA Conference in February, a business empowerment workshop in March, and our NYC launch during Tribeca in April, we look forward to your support in the year ahead. If you are interested in hearing more about what it takes to pledge to the Bechdel Bill or how you can sponsor or volunteer, please email email@example.com.