Set in the beautiful and culturally vibrant city of Portland, Maine, Bluestocking Film Series is an exclusive showcase for films that pass the Bechdel Test and feature fascinating, multifaceted female protagonists who drive the story and lead the action. Artistic Director Kate Kaminski says she founded the series in 2011 because she wants to see more films produced that explore women’s lives, experiences, and relationships with each other.
Think about the last movie you saw. Now ask yourself:
1. Were there two or more (named) women characters in it?
2. Did they talk to each other?
3. Did they talk about something other than a man?
These three simple questions are called the Bechdel Test. Once you start applying the test to the films you watch, you will notice that even in the year 2014, there is still a long way to go to see as many women characters in movies who are portrayed as strong and complex as their male counterparts.
By introducing these international shorts to cinema-loving audiences, the Bluestocking also promotes and nurtures talented, emerging filmmakers who, Kaminski says, “have the potential to influence the future of entertainment.” This year’s selections ‘in competition’ range in genre from dark to light comedy, intense drama to heartwarming coming of age stories. “The female characters around whom these films are centered are as various in age and type as they could be,” Kaminski says, noting that there are films in the program that touch on themes of ageism, racism, and gender questioning as well.
Bluestocking Film Series is the very first festival in the United States to receive Sweden’s ‘A’ rating. The brainchild of a consortium of Swedish cinema activists, the rating is intended to inform consumers that a particular film passes the Bechdel Test. According to leading A-Rating activist Ellen Tejle, “the goal of the [Swedish] ratings project is to encourage the telling of more female stories and perspectives.” The Bluestocking shares A-Rating status with blockbuster Hollywood films like VERONICA MARS, BEFORE MIDNIGHT, DIVERGENT and CATCHING FIRE.
The Bluestocking (formerly biannual) has been steadily growing since it began in 2011 and has gained visibility and support by initiating and developing connections with others who are working for better representation of women in film in front of and behind the camera, such as Marian Evans of Wellywood Woman blog (http://wellywoodwoman.blogspot.com/) Seed&Spark (http://www.SeedandSpark.com), and many others.
Of seventy-five entries received for the 2014 season, eleven films were selected by Kaminski with able assistance from two discerning judges. One of the judges was Ellen Tejle, Director at Cinema Rio in Stockholm, Sweden, who says, “I get so inspired by The Bluestocking Film Series and their work to highlight films with complex female characters – I’m so excited to be a judge this year.” Joining Tejle was Amanda Trokan, Director of Content at the crowdfunding site Seed&Spark. Trokan has worked at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and is also a screener for the Hamptons International Film Festival.
This year, two filmmakers will walk away with cash prizes for winning the Audience Choice award by blind ballot and one filmmaker will be chosen to receive a Best in Show award.
By providing a place where films about women and girl characters can be celebrated, Kaminski hopes to fuel and encourage writers and filmmakers to invest in complex female protagonists at least half the time. But with regard to the Bechdel Test , she cautions, “it’s not enough to make a film that passes unless the impetus is to express a deeper understanding of what it implies about the importance of women’s conversations.”
The 2014 Bluestocking Film Series Official Selections are:
HANNA (Joel Stockman, Sweden – World Premiere)
CABBIE (Brian C Miller Richard, Louisiana – Maine Premiere)
THE RUN AWAY (Penny Eizenga, Canada – World Premiere)
CRYSTAL (Chell Stephen, US/Canada – Maine Premiere)
KIMBAP (Alex Kyo Won Lee, New Zealand – US Premiere)
GRACE (Liz Cooper, Australia – Maine Premiere)
RAWHEAD AND BLOODY BONES (Merry Grissom, Los Angeles – Maine Premiere)
STICKS AND STONES (Chloe Dahl, Los Angeles – New England Premiere)
GRETCHEN (Carin Bräck, Sweden – US Premiere)
DEAR SANTA (Maura Smith, Massachusetts – Maine Premiere)
THE RAPTURE AND GRAMMY GWEN (Brittany Reeber, Texas – East Coast Premiere)
Also playing, out of competition, will be Madeleine Olnek’s award-winner COUNTERTRANSFERENCE and two surprise shorts to be unveiled at the screening.
Filmmaker Maura Smith will be making her second appearance at the Bluestocking. “As a filmmaker, [the series] is a favorite of mine,” she says. “Attending the festival is a creatively invigorating experience, and one that offers viewers the chance to see the work of talented filmmakers from across the globe. I am thrilled to be a part of the Bluestocking Film Festival once again this year.” Smith’s film BETTER DAYS screened at the spring 2012 Bluestocking.
Faren Humes whose award-winning film OUR RHINELAND screened at the fall 2013 event, says, “The fest features programming with female protagonists by some of the industry’s best up and coming filmmakers. I was honored to be a part of the lineup.”
The Bluestocking Film Series is happening on July 18-19 at Space Gallery (http://space538.org), 538 Congress Street, Portland, Maine. Come for the weekend and enjoy the best days of summer in Maine and and two memorable evenings of short films featuring complex female protagonists.
For more information about the Bluestocking Film Series, contact Kate Kaminski (bluestockingfilmseries@gmail. com). Watch trailers for past and upcoming events at bluestockingfilms.com.