Bumble—the self-proclaimed feminist dating, lifestyle and career app—recently announced the five winners of its 2019 “Female Film Force” competition.
The competition, now in its second year, provides grants to female filmmakers in France, Germany, Ireland and the UK. Female Film Force received over 1,300 pitches by teams of women filmmakers (writers, directors, or producers) and awarded £20,000 (about $25,000 USD) to each winner.
The initial candidates had submitted their applications in March, and were subsequently reduced to a short list, following which ten teams pitched a film industry panel, and then that group was winnowed to the five victors. In addition to the grant, the winners will receive support and guidance from industry experts; the completed films will be released in January 2020.
The five winning projects were:
• Ma’am (written and directed by Joy Wilkinson and produced by Jude Goldrei, United Kingdom). Ma’am depicts Queen Victoria’s battle with post-partum depression after giving birth to her ninth child. Her problems come to a head during a photo-shoot arranged by her husband Albert.
• ‘Sunita’ (written and produced by Joan Iyiola and Chibundu Onuzo, United Kingdom). Sunita is about a young black girl trying to fit in at a British boarding school and the transformation she undergoes when she dons a wig made from an Indian girl’s hair.
• Ascending Grace (written by Karen Healy, directed by Claire Byrne and produced by Sharon Cronin, Ireland). A plane enroute to a Catholic pilgrimage in Lourdes has been grounded, and the female pilots don’t see the situation the same way.
• Et Chaque Nuit (animated; drawn and directed by comic artist Julie Robert, France). Focused on mental health, Et Chaque Nuit (And Each Night) is about Lea, her friend Maud, and Lea’s pursuit of a ghostly deer.
• Viva La Feminista (documentary; produced by Noumia Film’s Silke Meya and Laura Mentgen, Germany). The doc looks at feminism in Germany today through the eyes of six children.
The Bumble Female Film Force competition aims to increase female representation in film making. Seventy-three percent of the 2019 Oscars winners were men, and all of the best-director nominees at the Oscars and Golden Globes were male. The problem is not limited to the U.S.; at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards, only a third of the winners were female, and no female directors were nominated. Only one woman (Jane Campion) has won the Palme d’Or at the Festival de Cannes, and only four women directors have received the Golden Bear award for best film at the Berlin Film Festival over the last 17 years. Mirroring figures elsewhere, a mere 15 percent of films shown in German cinemas are directed by women
Bumble is a women-centered app with three components: “Date,” “BFF,” (a place for users to form platonic friendship connections) and “Bizz” (a place for users to swipe for mentorship, networking, and career-building”). Bumble was founded on, and is best known, for its dating app which diverges from Tinder and similar services in one key aspect, the power it accords women. According to Bumble, “When members of the opposite sex match on Bumble, women are required to make the first move, shifting old-fashioned power dynamics and encouraging equality from the start.”
Bumble was founded in 2014 by Tinder co-founder Whitney Wolfe Herd and Andrey Andreev, co-founder of Badoo, an international social networking and dating app. (Wolfe Herd had left Tinder in the wake of a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit). Bumble is headquartered in Austin, Texas and has a staff of 70. It is valued at roughly one billion dollars; Wolfe Herd herself, just shy of her thirtieth birthday, is worth several hundred million dollars.