July 14, 2015

68 Films Directed by Women That You Can't Afford to Miss

Vera Chytilova
Who doesn't like a good must-watch movie list?

This one, compiled by Film Fatales, a collective of female film directors based in NYC, names 58 films directed by women that are necessary viewing for all filmmakers and cinephiles looking to expand their knowledge about the craft of filmmaking. The lists are separated into two categories: recent films and ones that inspired the work of those in Film Fatales. Check them out below, and continue on to see my "top" 10:

Recent Women-Directed Films That Everyone Should See

  • A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night by Ana Lily Amirpour
  • A Teacher by Hannah Fidell
  • Advantageous by Jennifer Phang
  • Apartment Troubles by Jess Weixler & Jennifer Prediger
  • Appropriate Behavior by Desiree Akhavan
  • Belle by Amma Asante
  • Beyond the Lights by Gina Prince-Bythewood
  • Caught by Maggie Kiley
  • Concussion by Stacie Passon
  • Diary of a Teenage Girl by Marielle Heller
  • Honeytrap by Rebecca Johnson
  • I Believe in Unicorns by Leah Meyerhoff
  • It Felt Like Love by Eliza Hittman
  • Kelly & Cal by Jen McGowan
  • Little Accidents by Sara Colangelo
  • Lucky Them by Megan Griffiths
  • Obvious Child by Gillian Robespierre
  • Pariah by Dee Rees
  • Selma by Ava Duvernay
  • She’s Lost Control by Anja Marquardt
  • Sleeping with Other People by Leslye Headland
  • Stray Dog by Debra Granik
  • The Midnight Swim by Sarah Adina Smith
  • There Is A New World Somewhere by Li Lu
  • Vessel by Diana Whitten
  • Your Sister’s Sister by Lynn Shelton

Women-Directed Films That Inspired the Work of Film Fatales

  • American Psycho by Mary Harron
  • Beau Travail by Claire Denis
  • Boys Don’t Cry by Kimberly Peirce
  • But I’m a Cheerleader by Jamie Babbit
  • Cleo from 5 to 7 by Agnes Varda
  • Daisies by Vera Chytilova
  • Daughters of the Dust by Julie Dash
  • Down to the Bone by Debra Granik
  • Fat Girl by Catherine Breillat
  • Fish Tank by Andrea Arnold
  • Gas Food Lodging by Allison Anders
  • Go Fish by Rose Troche
  • High Art by Lisa Cholodenko
  • In A Better World by Susanne Bier
  • Jesus Son by Alison Maclean
  • La Cienega by Lucrecia Martel
  • Me and You and Everyone You Know by Miranda July
  • Monsoon Wedding by Mira Nair
  • Monster by Patty Jenkins
  • Near Dark by Kathryn Bigelow
  • Ratcatcher by Lynne Ramsay
  • Salaam Bombay by Mira Nair
  • Stories We Tell by Sarah Polley
  • Suburbia by Penelope Spheeris
  • Sweetie by Jane Campion
  • The Arbor by Andrea Dunbar
  • Thirteen by Catherine Hardwicke
  • Vagabond by Agnes Varda
  • Variety by Bette Gordon
  • Virgin Suicides by Sofia Coppola
  • Wadjda by Haifaa al-Mansour
  • Wendy and Lucy by Kelly Reichardt

This list of films and directors only scratches the surface of the contribution women have made to cinema. I encourage you to discover more on your own if you haven't already. Here is my own list of personal favorites and ones I consider especially important/entertaining/awesome:

  • Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles by Chantal Akerman (my favorite non-French New Wave movie of all time)
  • Lovely & Amazing by Nicole Holofcener
  • An Education by Lone Scherfig
  • The Babadook by Jennifer Kent
  • American Splendor by Shari Springer Berman
  • Tiny Furniture by Lena Dunham
  • Winter's Bone by Debra Granik
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  • Frozen River by Courtney Hunt
  • Wayne's World by Penelope Spheeris (Duh!)

In light of the ACLU's petition asking the government to inquire about Hollywood's hiring practices, it seems as though people are starting to pay more attention to the issues women face in the industry. Which is great, because -- damn -- it's 2015 and I'm too stuck in my ways to pull a passion for sandwich-making and gender specificity out of my ass. (Though I do make bomb PB&Js.)

Who are some of your favorite female directors and/or films made by women? Let us know in the comments!      

Your Comment

24 Comments

Nice! Pariah is amazing. Have you seen this 80s short film called Kitchen Sink? It's one of my favorite shorts EVER. Directed by a genius woman, of course. :-)

Here's the best quality link I could find.
http://vk.com/video12301466_168481931

July 14, 2015 at 5:56PM

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Donovan Vim Crony
Director, DP, Editor, VFX, Sci-Fi Lover
477

Also watch:
Wakolda, by Lucía Puenzo
Yo, la peor de todas, by María Luisa Bemberg

July 14, 2015 at 6:22PM

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I've never seen those! Have you seen "Joven y Alocada" by Marialy Rivas?

July 14, 2015 at 6:36PM

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V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

Maybe I'm confused, but you forgot Pam Peckinpah.

July 14, 2015 at 6:57PM

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Saied M.
1345

You mean Sam.
Yes, she did forgot Samantha Peckinpah.

July 14, 2015 at 7:21PM

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Peter Johnson
Aspiring filmmaker
81

This isn't a comprehensive list.

July 15, 2015 at 12:50PM

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V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

There is a german Movie called "Lollipop Monster" Directed by Ziska Riemann I really like. It is dark, messed up And creative. There are a Lot of female directors in Germany who put out pretty good stuff.

July 15, 2015 at 4:15AM

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Acts of Worship by Rosemary Rodriquez!

July 15, 2015 at 6:37AM, Edited July 15, 6:37AM

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loubova
74

No 'Strange Days', no list (although at least you've got 'Near Dark' on there).

July 15, 2015 at 11:35AM, Edited July 15, 11:37AM

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Survivor Films
Writer/Director
140

"Across The Universe" Julie Taymor - truly astounding and inspiring Director.
And have to mention Jane Campion's The Piano as one of my all time favourite films.

July 15, 2015 at 11:49AM

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I'll second Across the Universe and add Titus. I think of Taymor as a kindred spirit to Terry Gilliam in her wild and yet finely-tuned visual imagination. Sadly also like Gilliam, she sometimes gives incredible visuals to a mediocre script (Across the Universe). I still haven't seen her version of The Tempest. I know it bombed, but I really want to watch it anyway.

July 15, 2015 at 7:03PM

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Benjamin Reichman
Post Supervisor/AE/Editor
278

"You Can't Afford to Miss"

July 15, 2015 at 1:57PM

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Brian Anthony
Student
334

Larisa Shepitko [The Ascent, Wings]

July 15, 2015 at 2:47PM

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Penny Marshall! She made Big, Awakenings, and A League of Their Own back to back. Even if you don't like big Hollywood crowd pleasers, which those three definitely are, you should watch them anyway, because they're also seriously good, expertly crafted movies worth watching.

July 15, 2015 at 7:08PM

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Benjamin Reichman
Post Supervisor/AE/Editor
278

This is a wonderful list, but no Leni Riefenstahl? She's the most influential director of the 20th century. Not only did her films have wider world wide impact than any before or after, but she also invented and pioneered many of the basic shots and techniques that make up our language. No one has ever done propaganda as well. America still can't do it well - we have to have a 24 hour news cycle do it constantly because the US Government funds terrible crap like "Zero Dark Thirty". 'Olympia' should top the list.

July 16, 2015 at 3:25PM

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I would add Afternoon Delight by JIll Soloway to the list. I expect great things from her in the future. Maybe Girfriends by Claudia Weil as well? You could almost see the blueprint and inspiration for Dunham's Tiny Furniture and Girls.

July 18, 2015 at 9:01PM

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Mahir Demir
Producer
74

"Little Accidents," by Sarah Colangelo. An indie sleeper released last year, the film takes place in a small American coal-mining town and follows the disappearance of a teenage boy. A fantastic feature-length debut from a strong female director.

July 20, 2015 at 1:28PM

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Gotta add "Girlfriends" by Claudia Weill. Just about a perfect film. See it!

July 21, 2015 at 1:13PM

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My favorite movies made by women are The Virgin Suicides and Lost In Translation (Sofia Coppola), Daisies, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World (Lorene Scafaria), Ruby Sparks and Little Miss Sunshine (Valerie Faris), The Riot Club (Lone Scherfig) (I have yet to see An Education), Coco Before Chanel (Anne Fontaine), Unbroken (Angelina Jolie).
There are so many on this list that I want to see... I really want to see Diary of a Teenage Girl and I Believe in Unicorns!! I also want to see Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. It's on the Criterion Collection and on their hulu page, so I should really watch it soon!
Just want to mention that the French New Wave is my favorite film era, too!

July 28, 2015 at 11:33PM

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Oh, yeah, Anne Fontaine totally needs to be on this list. Her film Nathalie, remade as Chloe by Atom Egoyan is also excellent.

August 5, 2015 at 2:24PM

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Daniel Mimura
DP, cam op, steadicam op
2320

A couple of my favs "Songcatcher" and "The Ballad of Little Jo" directed by Maggie Greenwald Mansfield. They're not "recent" films maybe, but they're damn good ones, and well directed. Just thought I'd mention it. I think they ought to be included on your list.

August 9, 2015 at 12:48AM, Edited August 9, 1:26AM

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My Brilliant Career dir by Gillian Armstrong

October 22, 2015 at 3:45PM

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Nancy Kelly
Director
69

My Brilliant Career by Gillian Armstrong.

October 22, 2015 at 9:32PM

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Nancy Kelly
Director
69

Frame By Frame directed by Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli

February 22, 2016 at 6:36PM

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I'm surprised that I don't see Lina Wertmuller among those on these lists. Lina Wertmüller is an Italian screenwriter and film director best known for her films The Seduction of Mimi, Love and Anarchy, Swept Away, and Seven Beauties. She was the first woman nominated for an Academy Award for Directing for Seven Beauties

February 23, 2016 at 12:04PM

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