Bechdel Film Club founder Irigoyen-Lopez ’19 unfazed by low attendance| Nov 12, 2018
A student club designed to invigorate women will likely die out after its founder graduates next spring.
On Saturday night, the Bechdel Film Club screened “Two Days, One Night” in the Women*s Center to a conference room almost empty of people. But founder and leader of the club, Teresa Irigoyen-Lopez ’19 was cheery as ever as she set up catered food, welcomed the one other attendee, and sat down to watch the film herself.
Irigoyen-Lopez, along with Tess Jacobson ’19, started the Bechdel Film Club about three years ago to create a space that screens films which pass the Bechdel test — criteria prescribed by artist Alison Bechdel according to her idea of the realistic representation of women. For a film to pass the Bechdel test, it must feature two named women who speak to each other about something other than a man.
The club meets every other Saturday night. The number of attendees can range from two to 20, depending on the week. The club aims to expose students to not only films that represent women, but also to films from a variety of cultures.
According to Irigoyen-Lopez, there is an inherent challenge in getting students to attend a club meant to expose them to different ideas. She said one of the biggest underlying reasons for the club’s fluctuating attendance is that people would rather be entertained by movies than learn from them.
“I show movies from a different country every time, so I feel like just because the nature of this club is exposing people to things they aren’t normally exposed to, it’s not a club that will bring a huge audience because people are not interested in that kind of thing,” she said.
But Irigoyen-Lopez remains unfazed by this reality.
“In the beginning that was sad to me, and I’d be kind of disappointed, but it kind of makes sense,” she said.
As a Spanish citizen who attended high school in Norway before coming to the University, Irigoyen-Lopez has been using film to learn and educate about other cultures for a long time.
“Films were such a great way to get to know other people’s cultures since they’re so impactful,” Irigoyen-Lopez said. “The nature of movies is to tell a story that’s not your own but that you might identify with in some way, and even if you don’t, it might open your mind to new ideas, new perspectives, and new realities, so I think it’s so linked to the idea of getting to know other cultures.”
Anna Phung, the new Program Coordinator at the Women*s Center said that they appreciate that the club provides a forum for thinking critically about films, even those that pass the Bechdel test.
“It’s really important to highlight films and be able to push back,” Phung said. “Even though films can pass the Bechdel test [that] doesn’t mean that it’s the best representing film for women in general.”
Irigoyen-Lopez said she thinks the Bechdel Film Club is likely to stop meeting after she graduates.
“People come and go,” she said. “People have their own projects, their own ideas.”
Regardless, Irigoyen-Lopez will leave Princeton having impacted the Women*s Center.
“Since I started the club, the Women*s Center has gotten more involved in introducing film into their events,” Irigoyen-Lopez said.