I’m highlighting female participation in a film with each new review

Another day, another report on how poorly women are faring in Hollywood. I don’t have any control over who gets hired in the industry or which films get made, but I can keep underscoring how abysmal the position of women in the industry is, and how rarely women’s stories get told. Perhaps this will help those movie lovers who don’t seem to grasp how huge a problem this is to begin to understand.

So, as a follow-on to my 2015 Where Are the Women? project, for 2018 (and perhaps beyond), I’ll be adding quick visual icons to the top of each review that will indicate whether a film has a female director, writer, and/or protagonist. Which will manifest at the top of a review page like this, for example:

female director, male screenwriter, female coprotagonist

Or sadly most often like this:

male director, male screenwriter, male protagonist

See the first few reviews with this new feature:
Molly’s Game
All the Money in the World
The Post

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A complete guide to the icons:

female director
female director(s)

female codirector
female/male codirectors

male director
male director(s)

female writer
female writer(s)

female cowriter
female/male cowriters

male writer
male writer(s)

female protagonist
female protagonist(s) or predominantly female ensemble

female coprotagonist
female/male coprotagonists or mixed ensemble

male protagonist
male protagonist(s) or predominantly male ensemble

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Dale Snow
Dale Snow
Sat, Jan 06, 2018 12:24am

Yay for this, MaryAnn, I for one will find it very useful.

Stacy Livitsanis
Stacy Livitsanis
Tue, Jan 09, 2018 4:52am

Love this decision. Could there be a space on the site for recommendations for films otherwise unmentioned here that fulfill most or all of the three green icons? To encourage people to check them out who might not have heard of them? Saw Women Who Kill this week and it’s a corker of a movie that’s green all the way.

Also glad to know I’m not the only one who slavishly codifies my viewing habits in this way. I’ve been labeling every film I watch for the last two years or so with similar markers. Well, in Japanese, since I’m studying the language at uni, so a female director is noted with 女監督 (“onna-kantoku” – woman director), and a female protagonist is noted with 女性の主人公 (“josei no shujinkou” – female lead).

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Stacy Livitsanis
Tue, Jan 09, 2018 9:09pm

I’ve just started highlighting new movies by and about women opening each week in the US and the UK: https://www.flickfilosopher.com/category/here-are-the-women (also linked in the menu bar at the top of each page)

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Stacy Livitsanis
Fri, Feb 02, 2018 8:53am

I’ve just added new pages listing all the new films in cinemas in both the US and the UK that feature women somehow:


These do not include revivals, festivals, second-run (where these things still exist), IMAX science docs. Just the new films. And I’m sure I’m still missing some: there just are too many damn new movies.

I’m considering whether I can do this for the new DVD/VOD releases, but I think that may simply be too unwieldy. We’ll see…

Wed, Jan 31, 2018 9:50pm

How does it work for unscripted documentaries? Who is the writer then?

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Anna
Fri, Feb 02, 2018 8:50am

If writers are credited, I’ll go by the credits. If no writers are credited, I’ll consider the director(s) as the writer(s) as well.

Sun, Aug 16, 2020 4:03pm

Nothing like blatant sexism. Men = Red (Bad). Equality of sexes = Yellow (Bad but passible). All Women = Green (Good).