The Critics Choice Association (CCA) Women’s Committee is pleased to announce “Women Talking” (United Artists Releasing) and “The Sex Lives of College Girls” (HBO Max) will receive the Seal of Female Empowerment in Entertainment. Called the “SOFEE,” the Seal recognizes outstanding new films and television series that illuminate the female experience and perspective through authentically told female-driven stories.
“Women Talking” focuses on a group of Mennonite women who gather to determine what action to take after rampant sexual abuse is condoned by the male leaders of the community. Written, directed, and produced by Sarah Polley from the novel by Miriam Toews, the drama explores the themes of sisterhood, autonomy, and justice through the eyes of women who have lived their entire lives inside a closed, conservative, rural community.
“I am so thrilled our film has been included amongst the incredible films receiving this honor, and so grateful for this initiative to encourage more films that tell women’s stories,” wrote Polley in a letter to the CCA membership. “Sometimes, when embarking on a project like this one, it’s easy to feel lost and unsure. Especially when you are telling a story about a community that has never been told. You must break and remake yourself in the process of finding your true voice. Thank you for creating this seal which helps a lot of us who have been lost to feel seen.”
“The Sex Lives of College Girls” is a female-led scripted comedy series following four very different freshman girls at a prestigious college in Vermont. Led by a diverse cast that stars Pauline Chalamet, Amrit Kaur, Alyah Chanelle Scott, and Reneé Rapp, these young women juggle their educational aspirations with their newfound freedom and burgeoning sex lives. Created and written by Mindy Kaling and Justin Noble, and with a majority of female writers and directors, the series showcases young women navigating the beginning of adulthood through diverse, relatable and witty stories.
“With diverse female representation behind and in front of the camera, ‘The Sex Lives of College Girls’ is the perfect example of what we are looking for when awarding the SOFEE,” said Tara McNamara, Chair of the CCA Women’s Committee. “Women write and produce the series, and their point of view shines through in the sometimes relatable, always hilarious stories that may bring back cringey memories for many women. The show’s sex positive message is reflected differently for each of the four main characters, allowing women from all walks of life to see elements of their own journeys represented on-screen.”
Both “Women Talking” and “The Sex Lives of College Girls” received perfect scores in the numerical formula that is used to determine if new titles, nominated by CCA Women’s Committee members, are eligible for a SOFEE. Qualifying projects will have a prominent female character arc, give female characters at least equal screen time to male characters, have female leaders behind the scenes, and pass elements highlighted in the Bechdel test. To be considered, new film and television releases must possess an artistic and storytelling value and exceptionality, and score at least 7 out of a possible 10 points in the SOFEE rubric, which can be found at CriticsChoice.com. There are no limits or quotas governing the number of SOFEE seals the CCA may grant.
The Seal of Female Empowerment in Entertainment is issued by the CCA Women’s Committee. Members include Tara McNamara (Chair), Hillary Atkin, Semira Ben-Amor, Christina Birro, Lauren Bradshaw, Jamie Broadnax, TJ Callahan, Natasha Gargiulo, Toni Gonzales, Teri Hart, Laura Hurley, Susan Kamyab, Louisa Moore, Gayl Murphy, Mary Murphy, Patricia Puentes, Christina Radish, Amanda Salas, Rachel Smith, Sammi Turano, and Lynn Venhaus, as well as CCA board member Paulette Cohn.
About the Critics Choice Association (CCA)
The Critics Choice Association is the largest critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 600 media critics and entertainment journalists. It was established in 2019 with the formal merger of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, recognizing the intersection between film, television, and streaming content. For more information, visit: www.CriticsChoice.com.
Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.