In the last few years, consumer viewing patterns have shifted from the traditional linear broadcast to Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms and worldwide video sharing services. Platforms such as Netflix and Apple TV+ are currently dominating the broadcasting industry, allowing users to stream a diverse selection of video content. Videos ranging from films to documentaries that span a variety of genres are usually offered on such platforms.
Purplay, an exclusive women-centric film platform, strives to bring attention to female-oriented movies. Escaping from the stereotypical role of female characters who are male-dependent in male-centric movies, Purplay is sparking the thought and conversation about women’s social status by streaming women-oriented movies.
A few years ago, Jo Il-ji watched a womencentric film at a women’s film festival. Mesmerized by the film, she recommended it to her friend. This ended in failure, however, since her friend had absolutely no idea how to stream the film. This experience helped Jo realize the lack of platforms for women-centric films, which ultimately led her to launch Purplay with her six feminist friends.
“The name ‘Purplay’ is a combination of the word ‘purple,’ which symbolizes feminism, and the word ‘play,’” Jo said. “As you may have guessed, implicit biases exist against Purplay, but that is what makes it so crucial to bring women-centric movies to the surface. Thanks to the directors, staff, and the audience’s support, it has been possible to come this far.”
Purplay currently has approximately 300 movies, with 90 percent of them available exclusively on the platform. Jo explained that movies featuring renowned actors, LGBTQ movies, and early works of female directors are most popular among the platform’s subscribers. For instance, “An Algorithm,” starring Lee Jooyoung, and “Shame Diary,” starring Lee Hakjoo, are current favorites. Additionally, “Feel Good Story,” produced by Lee Kyung-mi, is a steady seller.
Jo picked “The Shuttle Run,” “Her Bath,” and “Audition” as her favorite female-oriented movies, all of which feature children as protagonists. Jo highlighted that it is refreshing to contemplate shooting a movie from a child’s perspective as most movies show a world created and written by adults. She mentioned that these movies are similar to female-oriented films since both types of films are hard to come by.
Purplay utilizes diverse criteria such as the Bechdel Test, which is a measure of the representation of female agency in movies, and “F-rated,” a rating to highlight the participation of women on screen and behind the camera, among 20 other internal criteria. Based on these standards, movies with high gender equality and diversity indices are selected. Films are also recommended based on hashtags, curations by theme, and performance on the sexual equality index.
Nowadays, most OTT platforms are distributor-friendly. As consumers increase, the distributors also benefit, which enables them to produce blockbuster films and TV series with provocative content.
“We go against this trend by returning 70 percent of our profit to the creators,” Jo said. “Additionally, we offer a case-based payment system, rather than a monthly subscription system, which is not only convenient for users to watch movies they want to see, but also a simple and clear payment method to return profits to creators. Our mission is to spread gender equality values and perspectives in our society with keywords such as women and movies.”
Jo stressed that the increase of female directors has led to the expansion of the number of movies with actresses and female narratives, creating a virtuous cycle. She believes that Purplay performs a pivotal role in this circulation. As more people utilize Purplay, it leads to an increase in profits for the directors, and thus enables more women to play important roles in female-centric movies.
In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, Purplay hosted an event of sending messages of support to women in cinema. About 50 people participated, and messages were sent online in the form of a scrapbook. The letters were posted on the home screen of Purplay.
“We aim to make users feel that watching movies is a show of solidarity and has exerted a good influence on moving toward a gender-equal society,” Jo said. “My other goal is making Purplay as successful as Netflix since it will ultimately lead to the benefit of female directors.”