MOUNTAINS TO CLIMB The 12-film, two night series includes the Maine premiere of Crystal (dir. by Chell Stephen)

Among last year’s 100 top-grossing films, women represented just 15 percent of protagonists, and less than one-third of total characters, according to a study released earlier this year by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.

“Female characters remained dramatically under-represented as protagonists, major characters, and speaking (major and minor) characters in the top grossing films of 2013,” wrote Martha Lauzen, author of the study and a professor of film and television at San Diego State University. “Female characters were younger than their male counterparts and were more likely than males to have an identifiable marital status. Further, female characters were less likely than males to have clearly identifiable goals or be portrayed as leaders of any kind.”

Which is why the Bluestocking Film Series is so important. The festival, which runs this Friday and Saturday night at SPACE Gallery, showcases films that feature complex female protagonists and is the first US film event to receive Sweden’s A-Rating, a nod to the requirement that all Bluestocking submissions pass the Bechdel Test (conceived by the feminist cartoonist and artist Alison Bechdel). To do so, a film must at some point feature two women who talk to each other about something other than a man.

“There are plenty of film festivals that focus on women directors,” says festival founder and independent filmmaker Kate Kaminski, while Bluestocking is more character-driven, seeking to “amplify women’s voices and stories.” (The festival does accept submissions from men.)

Among this year’s 12 films:

>> Grace, a six-minute film about a woman preparing to meet her birth mother, written and directed by Liz Cooper, of Australia.

>> Sticks & Stones, written and directed by Chloe Dahl, of Los Angeles, addresses teenage bullying and coming-of-age. Its star, Danielle Koenig, won Best Actress in the Williamsburg Film Festival last year.

>> Crystal tells the story of a 17-year-old girl who uses her passion for dance as a way to escape her small-town life in rural Ontario. Written and directed by Chell Stephen, a former student of Kaminski’s, the lead character was portrayed by Kate Stephan, Chell’s sister.

>> The US premiere of Kimbap, a film about a migrant Korean family, directed by Alex Kyo Won Lee and recently selected by Thuc Nguyen (the mastermind behind The Bitch Pack, a women-in-film collective focused on female representation on the page) for a special Bluestocking 2014 ‘Best in Show’ award.

Bluestocking Film Series | Friday + Saturday, June 18-19 | 7:30 | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St, Portland | $10 |

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