New SOFEE Seal Calls Attention To Female Driven Stories in Hollywood

It is called “SOFEE,” and it stands for Seal of Female Empowerment in Entertainment. The new seal is courtesy of

It is called “SOFEE,” and it stands for Seal of Female Empowerment in Entertainment. The new seal is courtesy of the Critics Choice Association Women’s Committee and since its unveiling in late September, it has helped to identify entertainment projects that highlight the female experience with authentically told female-driven stories. 

The group of female movie and television critics along with entertainment journalists inside the Critics Choice Association (including yours truly) wanted to do more than add a tweet of support to a project. The goal was to be bigger than that. It would go further than a mention on their respective outlets. The women wanted to call attention to film and television projects that put the female voice and experience front and center in a significant way. Thus, the SOFEE was born. A prominent and pink circular seal that would be added to the branding of a movie and would say that this project empowers women, period.

SOFEE Seal of Female Empowerment in Entertainment
Courtesy: CCA

“It’s kind of like the church. They don’t want us to be priests. They want us to be obedient nuns.”

Anjelica Huston, actress, director and producer

Hollywood Has Come A Long Way

Hollywood has come a long way from portraying women as the bubbly blonde not even worthy of a frontend movie credit. The days of a woman only being seen as damsel in distress or as weak and inferior are becoming further and further away in entertainment. Sadly, the history for women behind the camera it is much of the same. Many Hollywood actresses, producers and directors have long spoken out about the lack of female representation. Some of their thoughts on the subject are scattered throughout this article.

“If there’s specific resistance to women making movies, I just choose to ignore that as an obstacle for two reasons: I can’t change my gender, and I refuse to stop making movies.” 

Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker” and “”Zero Dark Thirty”

Fortunately, the industry has begun to evolve. As such, it has become increasingly important to celebrate projects that were vital in the telling of an honest, legitimate and varied female experience. 

“Because studios and networks were responsive to the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, a larger number of female writers, directors, and cinematographers are, for the first time in modern history, getting the opportunity to tell women’s stories. The result is that they’re more truthful to the female experience,” said Tara McNamara, head of the committee. “The result is that they’re more truthful to the female experience.”

SOFEE’s First Seals

So far, the SOFEE has done what it had intended to do. The first film SOFEE was awarded to “The Woman King,” inspired by true events that took place in one of the most powerful states of Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries with female warriors at the films center. It starred Viola Davis and was directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood

Since then the SOFEE  has also been awarded to “She Said” the film starring Carrie Mulligan and Zoe Kazan as the two New York Times reporters who penned the story that shattered decades of silence around the subject of sexual assault in Hollywood. Other recipients include  “Causeway,”and “Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power,” with the latter receiving the first SOFEE Seal in the documentary category.

On the television side the SOFEE has been awarded to Amazon Prime’s “A League of Their Own,” Apple TV’s “Bad Sisters,” and “Gutsy.”

SOFEE: A Critical Consideration

In order for a project to be even considered for the seal it must first pass the SOFEE rubric. That is a stringent test that consists of a numerical formula used to determine a project’s eligibility. A few of the qualifications include: a prominent female character arc, female characters that equal screen time to their male counterparts, female leaders behind the camera (directors, producers, cinematographers, etc.) and pass elements in the Bechdel test. A new release must score a seven out of ten on the SOFEE rubric before it is further examined and determined if it is seal worthy.  Simply put, it’s not a popularity contest. It is heavily considered among the committee.

CCA Women’s Committee SOFEE Rubric

“The Critics Choice Association’s intent with the SOFEE Seal is to recognize these films and in television that are meeting the criteria for honest, authentic depictions of women so audiences can spot these films and seek them out,” said McNamara. “If these films are financially successful, the entertainment industry will continue making more female-forward films and TV shows.” 

‘‘I’m always proselytizing to women, ‘You know how to do this.’ It’s almost so simple, I feel like Dorothy. I had the ruby slippers all along.”

Jill Soloway, writer, director and producer (“Transparent” “Six Feet Under”)