Filmmaker and radio journalist Tessa Rex will appear on a panel on Women in Film at the 61st annual Sydney Film Festival, taking place in the Hub at Sydney Town Hall on Saturday 7 June.

Tessa brought her social justice experience to the Pass the Bechdel Test campaign earlier this year, and will join producer Julie Byrne (Touch), screenwriter Natasha Pincus (Fell), film critic CJ Johnson and Sophia Turkiewicz (Once My Mother) to explore the issue of gender equality on our cinema screens.

The Pass the Bechdel Test campaign calls on filmmakers to sign up to a charter to commit to improving the representation of women on film by making films that pass the test unless there is a specific reason* not to.

AFI Award winning and Emmy nominated American independent film producer Ted Hope (The Ice Storm, The Savages, 21 Grams) has recently come out in support of the campaign and signed the charter. As Hope says, “It's a small step to commit to passing the Bechdel Test, and one that I'd encourage all filmmakers to take in order to improve the poor representation of half the population on film.”

The Bechdel Test started as a joke between friends, but decades later after little progress, is now considered the bare minimum indication of female participation in a movie. It involves three simple criteria:

1. Has to have two female characters in it

2. Who have a conversation with each other

3. About something besides a man

Yet many mainstream films don’t get over the very low bar – including 69% of those on IMDB’s top 250 films list. Dr. Martha Lauzen’s latest research for the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film shows that the poor representation of women in movies hasn’t made any progress in the last two decades, and very little since the 1940s. In the top 100 films of last year, female characters made up 13% of protagonists and 30% of speaking roles.

*Examples of films where it's not practical to pass the Bechdel Test are: the film has three or less characters (e.g. Gravity, Buried), is set at a place and time where there were only men or very few women (e.g. Good Night, and Good Luck., Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World), is based on a text that limits the possibilities (e.g. The Road).

For further information on the panel event, go to:

For further information on the Pass the Bechdel Test campaign, go to:

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