A campaign to raise awareness about representation in film

“Has gender equality gone too far in Sweden?” This is one of the most common questions I’ve faced over the last couple of years. In short: No. First of all, “too equal” is a mathematically impossible concept. But put that aside and look at the facts on the ground in female-friendly Scandinavia, where equal pay is still a basic struggle. In Sweden, a woman will earn $450,000 less than a man in her lifetime. Further, recognition of rights and equal political representation is still not in place, anywhere. And in the movie business the celluloid stories are still mostly driven by leading men, while being created and perpetuated by male screenwriters, directors and producers.

Gender inequality is obviously a problem and the film industry indeed holds a responsibility. Film influences people, and therefore a conservative film industry will hamper progress.

So I, together with WIFT and four cinemas, made a campaign in2013 to spread awareness about female representation in lm. We simply made a logo for the Bechdel Wallace test (saying Approved Bechdel Wallace Test) to identify the films that have at least two named women who speak to each other about something other than a man. A-rated films and simply test is no way the only solution to these challenges but it is a method and eye-opener that illustrates gender norms and structures. And it has made a great impact already, in Sweden and worldwide. 

In film there is no absolute measure of quality, so it boils down to the personal tastes of financiers and politicians. And many of the big guns in the Swedish film industry admit to following their gut feeling when deciding about a film, and often never factor in the social norms and structures involved.

It’s impossible to solve a problem when you don’t know the problem exists. This is the reason why WIFT Sweden is working to expose structural inequality, using hard facts and practical advice to steer the industry in the right direction— equality, in front and behind the camera.

The film Industry is not equal, but many of us are working for a positive change.


Ellen Tejle, founder & initiator