Akron's Bechdel Film Fest Looks to Unlock $48,000 Matching Grant

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Akron's Bechdel Film Fest Looks to Unlock $48,000 Matching Grant
Courtesy of Bechdel Film Fest

We reported back in March about the announcement of the inaugural Bechdel Film Festival to take place at The Nightlight Cinema in Akron, a festival dedicated to films that pass the Bechdel Test.

In partnership with the Nightlight Cinema and Akron Summit County Public Library, Bechdel Fest is set for May 28 - June 2, 2019.

Now, Akron school teacher and the director of Crafty Mart, Brit Charek, has secured a $48,000 matching grant through the Knight Arts Challenge. But first, matching funding must be secured.

"I'm writing other grant requests to local and national foundations, and am working hard to seek out corporate sponsorship," Charek told Scene. "But anyone who does arts funding can tell you how hard it is to establish those kind of funding relationships when you're just starting out."

Bechdel Fest has turned to crowdfunding through Kickstarter in an attempt to raise the necessary matching funds.

"I figure if I can raise a little bit of money from a lot of pockets, it will add up, and those backers will also have a feeling of ownership for the festival," Charek says.

Festival venue, The Nightlight Cinema, was established in part by a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over $20,000.

"My husband and I pitched in and we even have our names hand stamped on one of the seats," Charek Says. "Even now that we have kids and don't get out to the theater as much as we'd like, we still feel a sense of pride that we made it possible for other people to see great independent cinema."

The inaugural Bechdel Fest is one of importance, considering only approximately 57 percent of all films pass the test requirements of a film having two women who talk to each other and discuss something other than a man.

"There's an established system of privilege, because white men make most of the money in the world, so most media is tailored to them to sell something to them," Charek says. "We're doing great work calling out gender bias, but it's so much bigger than making as much money as a man or not feeling ashamed of our bodies or even just having flippin' pockets in all our outfits — there's an entire system in place that needs dismantled."

In 2017, women only accounted for 11 percent of the directorial positions in the top 250 highest-grossing films. This isn't an instance of there not being enough women directors to fulfill the roles, but a matter of women being held to a harsher standard than their male counterparts and the continued practice of men "failing upward" into blockbuster Hollywood films.

"Our dollars and our time can be our vote," Charek says. "If we support women artists and media that represents them, things will start to change."

For those willing to help match funds for Bechdel Fest, you can visit the Kickstarter campaign here. For more information on Bechdel Fest, visit the festival's website

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