Women's cinema

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Women's cinema is a variety of topics bundled together to create the work of women in film. This can include women filling behind the scene roles such as director, cinematographer, writer, and producer while also addressing the stories of women and character development through screenplays.

Renowned female directors include Kathryn Bigelow, who is the only woman to date to win the Academy Award for Best Director,[1] along with many other female directors from around the world such as Alice Guy-Blaché, Dorothy Arzner, Mary Harron, Icíar Bollaín, Jane Campion, Aparna Sen, Sofia Coppola, Agnès Varda, Patty Jenkins, Nancy Meyers, Yasmin Ahmad, Nadine Labaki, Ava DuVernay, Lucrecia Martel, Lynne Ramsay, Greta Gerwig, Rakhshān Banietemad, and Ida Lupino. Many successful cinematographers are also women, including Maryse Alberti, Reed Morano, Rachel Morrison, and Zoe White.

Women's cinema recognizes women's contributions all over the world, not only to narrative films but to documentaries as well. Recognizing the work of women occurs through various festivals and awards, such as the Sundance Film Festival.[2]

"Women's cinema is a complex, critical, theoretical, and institutional construction", Alison Butler explains. The concept has had its fair share of criticisms, causing some female filmmakers to distance themselves from it in fear of being associated with marginalization and ideological controversy.[2]

Famous women in film history[edit]

Silent films[edit]

Alice Guy-Blaché was a film pioneer and the first female director.[3] Working for the Gaumont Film Company in France at the time that the cinema was being invented, she created La Fée aux Choux (1896). The dates of many early films are speculative, but La Fée aux Choux may well be the first narrative film ever released.[4] She served as Gaumont's head of production from 1896 to 1906 and ultimately produced hundreds of silent films in France and the United States.[5]

American-born director, Lois Weber was coached and inspired by Guy-Blaché and found success in creating silent films.[6] Weber is well known for her films Hypocrites (1915), The Blot (1921), and Suspense (1913). Weber's films often focus on difficult social issues. For instance, her film Where Are My Children? (1916) addresses the controversial issues of birth control and abortion. And she questioned the validity of capital punishment in The People vs. John Doe (1916).[7][8]

Mabel Normand was another significant early female filmmaker. She started as an actress and became a producer-writer-director in the 1910s, working on the first shorts Charlie Chaplin did as The Tramp at Mack Sennett's Keystone Studios.[9] She further collaborated with Sennett on other Keystone films and, during the late 1910s and early 1920s, she had her own movie studio and production company.[10] Other notable actresses who became directors include Grace Cunard and Nell Shipman.

Women screenwriters were highly sought after in the early years of the cinema. Frances Marion, Anita Loos, and June Mathis all had successful careers in the silent and early-sound eras. Mathis was also the first female executive in Hollywood.

In Sweden, Anna Hofman-Uddgren was that country's first female film maker—producing the silent film Stockholmsfrestelser in 1911. She also acted in the film.[11] However, Ebba Lindkvist directed the short drama, Värmländingarna, which premièred in Sweden on 27 October 1910, thus technically making her the first woman film maker.[12]

Classical Hollywood[edit]

As the American cinema became a highly commercialized industry in the 1920s and its content became more and more conventionalized, the opportunities for women producers and directors became fewer and fewer. By the time sound arrived in the US in 1927 and the years immediately after, women's roles behind the camera were largely limited to scriptwriters, costume designers, set decorators, make-up artists, and the like. And the industry's implementation of self-censorship in the form of the Hays Code in 1934 meant that topics such as birth control and abortion were taboo. Dorothy Arzner was the only woman director to survive in this unfriendly environment. She did so by producing well made but formally rather conventional films. Nevertheless, it is possible to trace feminist elements in her films.[13] Film critics find her film, Dance, Girl, Dance, about two women struggling to make it in show business, to be particularly interesting from a feminist perspective. When the film was selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry, it was noted that "The dancers, played by Maureen O'Hara and Lucille Ball, strive to preserve their own feminist integrity, while fighting for their place in the spotlight and for the love of male lead Louis Hayward."[14] Beyond Dance, Girl, Dance, Arzner also worked with some of Hollywood's most formidable actresses—including Katharine Hepburn in Christopher Strong (1933) and Joan Crawford in The Bride Wore Red (1937).

Experimental and avant-garde cinema[edit]

The experimental and avant-garde cinema is the genre considered to be closer to women filmmakers and one that also advances women themes. Annette Kuhn, for instance, noted such special affinity by citing that low investments of money and 'professionalism' have meant that it is more open than the mainstream film industry for women.[15] Both Pam Cook and Laura Mulvey also noted an alignment and alliance of experimental and avant-garde cinema with feminist interest and feminist politics. Specifically, Mulvey explained that mainstream or Hollywood films are unable to provide the experience of contradiction, reinforcing anti-realism and, this is where the avant-garde cinema is useful for women and feminism because they share "a common interest in the politics of images and problems of aesthetic language."[16]

Women's involvement in the experimental and avant-garde cinema started in the early twentieth century, although it was limited due to the constraints of the social conventions of this period.[2] It was only after the war when women became actively involved in this cinematic genre. Germaine Dulac was a leading member of the French avant-garde film movement after World War I.[17] There is also the case of Maya Deren's visionary films, which belonged to the classics of experimental cinema and focused on the North-American avant-garde.[18] The contemporaneous trend did not oppose the female filmmakers' entry into avant-garde filmmaking although, in its early years, they did not receive as much critical acclaim as their male counterparts.[2]

Shirley Clarke was a leading figure of the independent American film scene in New York in the fifties.[19] Her work is unusual, insofar as she directed outstanding experimental and feature films as well as documentaries. Joyce Wieland was a Canadian experimental film maker. The National Film Board of Canada allowed many women to produce non-commercial animation films. In Europe women artists like Valie Export were among the first to explore the artistic and political potential of videos.

Impact on society[edit]

Impact of second-wave feminism[edit]

In the late sixties, when the second wave of feminism started, the New Left was at its height. Both movements strongly opposed the 'dominant cinema', i.e. Hollywood and male European bourgeois auteur cinema. Hollywood was accused of furthering oppression by disseminating sexist, racist and imperialist stereotypes. Women participated in mixed new collectives like Newsreel, but they also formed their own film groups. Early feminist films often focused on personal experiences. A first masterpiece was Wanda by Barbara Loden, one of the most poignant portraits of alienation ever made.[20]

Second-wave feminism would reveal itself in different forms in films in the latter part of the 20th century such as with the idea of "sisterhoods" in movies, a good example of which is Steel Magnolias in 1989.[21] Other concepts of second-wave feminism in films involved women's oppression and the difficulty in identifying with the idea of femininity. During this time, feminism in movies would also be represented as a counter-cinema[22] whereby filmmakers would attempt to intentionally deconstruct the model of the classical film. This style of feminist counter-cinema can be seen in the works of artists such as Sally Potter's Thriller in 1979.

Representing sexuality[edit]

Resisting the oppression of female sexuality was one of the core goals of second-wave feminism. Abortion was still very controversial in many western societies and feminists opposed the control of the state and the church. Exploring female sexuality took many forms: focusing on long-time censured forms of sexuality (lesbianism, sado-masochism) or showing heterosexuality from a woman's point of view. Birgit Hein, Elfi Mikesch, Nelly Kaplan, Catherine Breillat and Barbara Hammer are some of the directors to be remembered.

A film notable for its empathic portrayal of sex work is Lizzie Borden's Working Girls (1986). Molly, a white lesbian in a stable mixed-race relationship, is a Yale-educated photographer who has chosen to augment her income through sex work in a low-key urban brothel. We accompany Molly on what turns out to be her last day on the job, understanding her professional interactions with her "johns" through her perspective, a completely original point of view, since, until Borden's film, sex workers had largely been depicted stereotypically. The story's sympathetic, well-rounded character and situation humanizes sex work, and the film itself combats the anti-pornography stance touted by many second-wave feminists, which Borden rejects as repressive.[23]

Typically women are portrayed as dependent on other characters, overemotional, and confined to low status jobs when compared to enterprising and ambitious male characters (Bussey & Bandura, 1999). Women in cinema are grossly misrepresented and definitely under represented. The roles that men play are the superhero, the wealthy business man or the all-powerful villain. When it comes to the roles females play they tend to be the housewife, the woman who can't obtain a man, the slut, or the secretary. The true comparison is masculinity versus femininity. The Bechdel test for film is a type of litmus test that examines the representation of women in media. The 3 factors tested are: 1. Are there at least 2 women in the film who have names? 2. Do those women talk to each other? 3. Do they talk to each other about something other than a man? (Sharma & Sender, 2014). Many roles that are given to women make them either dependent on the male counterpart or limits their role. Another characteristic of their role placement is that women are twice as likely to have a life-related role rather than a work-related role. Hollywood rarely chooses to have women be the all-powerful boss or to even have a successful career. There have been some examples that break this norm, such as The Proposal or I Don't Know How She Does It. Even in these two films, the male counterpart is a strong role and in both the female lead is reliant on both actors for the storyline. Women do not stand on their own in movies and rarely are the center of attention without a male being there to steal the limelight. Some roles that have been portrayed in recent films have worked against this norm, such as Katniss in Hunger Games and Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road. These roles break the norm, as women typically are portrayed as dependent on other characters, overemotional, and confined to low-status jobs compared to enterprising and ambitious male characters (Bussey & Bandura, 1999). Women in cinema are grossly misrepresented and underrepresented.[24]

Fear of entering cinematography[edit]

Many women fear(ed) even entering the film industry, let alone produce multiple pieces of work in the industry. It is said that both male and female workers believe hiring women into the industry is taking a big chance, or being risky.[25] There are many discriminatory acts toward women during the hiring process into the industry such as age discrimination and providing them with lower pay rates.[25] Most women workers in the film industry only become freelancers, which in most cases prevents them from creating careers and making a living out of their film/cinematography passion.[26] These are the fear tactics in place, whether purposely or not, to prevent women from thriving in the film industry.

However, there is much more gendered discrimination towards women after they receive the job and actually begin to help and/or produce work. Statistics show that there are not many women in senior positions in the industry.[26] Compared to the number of women hired, it is clearly shown that women are not given the chance to keep their jobs for long periods of time. "However, it is notable that women lost their jobs at a rate that was six times that of men, indicating the particular and heightened vulnerability of women in the industry."[26] Women are not being promoted into higher positions as often as their male counterparts and are not even given the chance to stay long enough to get promoted. These are multiple issues happening during the hiring process and even the post-hire experiences of women which may make other women fear entering the industry in the first place.

The way women are treated in the workplace are also evidence of the inequalities against them in the film industry. Women's pay rates and expectations in their background/experience in cinematography is much different than male workers. There are many scenarios in the industry that displays the woman with more qualifications for the job than the man, yet earns less money for the same job than the man.[27] "It is worth noting that women in this field are significantly better qualified than their male counterparts, with a greater proportion being graduates and an even more significant difference in the numbers of women, compared to men, with higher degrees (Skillset, 2010a: 6)."[26] Even the women who are overqualified are treated as if they are not, resulting in them working extra hard to become better and be rewarded as their male counterparts.[27] All of these inequalities and discrimination toward women in the film industry creates a fear for women to even want to enter the industry.

Resisting violence and violent resistance[edit]

Resisting patriarchal violence was a key concern of second-wave feminism during the 1960s to the 1980s.[28] Consequently, many feminists of the second wave have taken part in the peace movements of the eighties, as had their foremothers in the older pacifist movements. The effects that war conflict had on women following the cold war was often overlooked. Post cold-war conflicts resulted in women being subjected to increased forms of torture, rape, and violence.[29] This caused an increase in women's peace organizations and initiatives to protest violence against women, resulting in more criticism of the patriarchal cliché of the 'peaceable' woman.[29] Women film directors documented the participation of women in anti-imperialist resistance movements. Inspired by the Hindu goddess Mother Kali—who is traditionally associated with sexuality, violence, and motherly-tenderness - German filmmakers Birgit and Wilhelm Hein created their Kali Film, which depicts women as violent and threatening, the opposite of the innocent “caretaker” stereotype generally assigned to women characters.[30] The filmmakers assembled found footage from 'trivial' genres, the only domain of cinema in which the portrayal of aggressive women was allowed.

Filmmakers have also begun to take on representations of sexuality and gender in films directed specifically at college students. As campus sexual assault continues to pervade universities, filmmakers have started to create films that address these issues. In 2014 a group of students and faculty at Texas Tech University created the film series "Sexism | Cinema" to provide education on violence against women and sexual abuse on college campuses.[31] In 2015, the films were screened and over 500 students were in attendance.[31]

(Re-) entering the mainstream[edit]

Kathryn Bigelow works in male-dominated genres like science fiction, action and horror. She became the first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Director and the Directors Guild of America Award in 2010 for The Hurt Locker.[1][32] In 2013, her film Zero Dark Thirty was met with universal acclaim[33] and grossed $95 million in the United States box office.[34] Bigelow went on to be nominated for Best Director at the BAFTA Awards, Golden Globe Awards and Directors Guild of America Award among others. However, she failed to be shortlisted for the category at the 85th Academy Awards in what was widely seen as a snub.[35][36][37]

Anne Fletcher has directed four studio-financed films: Step Up (2006), 27 Dresses (2008), The Proposal (2009) and The Guilt Trip (2012) which have gone on to gross over $343 million at the US box office and $632 million worldwide.[38] She is also attached to direct the sequel to the 2007 film Enchanted.[39]

Catherine Hardwicke's films have grossed a cumulative total of $551.8 million.[40] Her most successful films are Twilight (2008) and Red Riding Hood (2011).

Nancy Meyers has enjoyed success with her five features: The Parent Trap (1998), What Women Want (2000), Something's Gotta Give (2003), The Holiday (2006) and It's Complicated (2009) which have amassed $1,157 million worldwide.[41] Before she started her directorial career she wrote some other successful films like Private Benjamin (1980) for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, Baby Boom (1987) or Father of the Bride (1991).

Sofia Coppola is a critically acclaimed director who has also had financial success. Her award-winning film Lost in Translation (2003) grossed over $119 million. The Virgin Suicides (1999), Marie Antoinette (2006) and The Bling Ring (2013) were also successful. Her father is Francis Ford Coppola.

Ava DuVernay is the director of the critically acclaimed Selma (2014) as well as the first African American woman to direct a triple-digit-budgeted film, A Wrinkle in Time (2018).


A study done by USC Annenberg researched what it meant to be a female in the film industry, no matter if they were working behind the scenes or were fictional characters. USC Annenberg looked at two test groups for films, the top 100 films every year from 2007 to 2015 and the top 100 films in 2015.

For the top 100 films in 2015, women were leads and co-leads in 32 of them, while of the 32 films, only 3 of them included a race other than Caucasian. Out of the thousands of speaking roles, only 32 characters were LGBT and of those characters, 40% of them were racially diverse. Female characters were also three times more likely to be seen in a sexual context.[42]

Behind the scenes had similar statistics to the female fictional characters. Female directors, writers, and producers made up 19% of the 1,365 people that it took to create the top 100 films in 2015. The percentage of female writers (11.8%) and producers (22%) can be seen as high compared to female directors (7.5%). Of the 7.5% of female directors, three of them were African American and one was Asian.[42]

For the top 100 films every year from 2007 until 2015, of the 800 films, 4.1% were directed by females.[42]


While there is still a gap between the percent of female and male filmmakers, women tend to be more involved in documentary films. There is a higher percentage of women directing documentaries than women directing narrative films.[43] There came a point where female directors were barely noticed or not recognized at all.

Female filmmakers as feminists[edit]

In the film world, many female filmmakers are not given much attention or chances to show what they are capable of. This issue is still being debated on, but several activists aim to change and overcome this type of inequality. These activists aim to raise awareness and produce a social change to what is currently shown in the media. During the 1990s, many films came about presenting female filmmakers from different nationalities and racial groups.[44] For example, one of the films released that year is called Sisters in Cinema[45] directed by Yvonne Welbon. This documentary was to demonstrate how African American female directors inspect their present spot in the business. By giving these female film directors the opportunity to showcase their work and demonstrate their actions then feminist documentaries will be as equally important to any other documentary. Not only this, but many documentaries tend to showcase different social activists who aim for a social change by raising awareness and reinforcing female film directors.

Celluloid ceiling[edit]

The Center of the Study of Women in Television and Film has dedicated 18 years to the study of women in the film industry. An annual report is created, discussing how women have contributed to as filmmakers. Most of the findings from the research shows that, statistically, it says the same from year to year.[46] The highest earning movies of the past 20 years, with the exception of foreign films and reissues, have been monitored and studied by the Celluloid Ceiling to provide information on the contributions and employment of women on these films.[47] According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, as of 2017, “women comprised 18% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films."[47] The same study concluded that in 2017, 10 or more women were given one of these positions in 1% of films, compared to 10 or more men being hired for these jobs in 70% of films.[47] Information from the Celluloid Ceiling shows that more women tend to be employed on film projects directed by women.[47] According to the Duke Journal of Gender Law and Policy, "in films with at least one female director, women comprised 53% of writers. Conversely, in films with male directors, women comprised just 10% of writers."[48] Statistically, female directors generally create films about and for women, and hire women to assume the roles of main characters or protagonists.[48] The Duke Journal of Gender Law and Policy additionally found that "in 2015, women comprised only 22% of protagonists and 18% of antagonists. Just 34% of major characters and 33% of all speaking characters in the top 100 domestic grossing films were women." [48]

The group also contributes their time to creating articles discussing how women are viewed in film, not only as filmmakers but as fictional characters as well.[46]

African American women's cinema[edit]

Julie Dash's Daughters of the Dust (1991) was the first full-length film with general theatrical release written and directed by an African American woman. Since then there have been several African or African-American women who have written, produced or directed films with national release. Neema Barnette (Civil Brand), Maya Angelou (Down in the Delta), Kasi Lemmons (Eve's Bayou), Cheryl Dunye (My Baby's Daddy), Stephanie Allain (Biker Boyz), Tracey Edmonds (Soul Food), Frances-Anne Solomon (A Winter Tale) and Dianne Houston (City of Angels), Leslie Harris (Just Another Girl on the IRT) are among these filmmakers. In 1994 Darnell Martin became the first African American woman to write and direct a film produced by a major studio when Columbia Pictures backed I Like It Like That.[49]

To date, Nnegest Likké is the first African American woman to write, direct and act in a full-length movie released by a major studio, Phat Girlz (2006) starring Jimmy Jean-Louis and Mo'Nique.

For a much fuller accounting of the larger history of black women filmmakers, see Yvonne Welbon's 62-minute documentary Sisters in Cinema (2003).[50]

Furthermore, since the revolutionary start of filmmaking, black women filmmakers have continuously struggled and are still struggling to showcase their work on feature films in Hollywood.[51] However, that does not exclude the fact that there were various black women filmmakers who sparked during their time and age because of their phenomenal work behind the scenes.[51] Jessie Maple is considered to be one of the most recognized figure for the civil rights of the African American community and women of color within the film industry.[51] Her film career took off when she first worked as a film editor for the crime drama film Shaft’s Big Score (1972) and The Super Cops (1974) which was based on a book. She continued to work as a film editor for several years but eventually became the only black union cameraperson in her time in New York.[51] With her devoted passion for film and activism growing by the day, Maple and her husband, Leroy Patton, created LJ Film productions, Inc. and when on about to produce several short documentaries within the border and context of black representation, such as Black Economic Power: Reality or Fantasy? (1977).[51] Her two major works, Will (1988) and Twice as Nice (1988), were the first ever independent feature films to be solely created and directed by an African American woman.[51]

Alile Sharon Larkin is known as a film director, producer, and writer. She began her film career while earning her master's degree in UCLA in film and television production.[51] One of her first films called Your Children Come Back to You (1979) depicts the ongoing dilemma that a young African American girl faces while choosing between her aunt's desire to take in a European lifestyle while her mother is strictly intact with her African roots and culture.[51] Larkin's second film feature A Different Image (1982) gained her popular recognition and praise, and eventually won a first-place prize from the Black American Cinema Society.[51] Her ongoing success in the film industry gave her the potential and opportunity to form her own production studio in order to create and enhance educational videos and television for young children.[51]Dreadlocks and the Three Bears (1992) and Mz Medusa (1998) are some of the productions produced in her studio during the 1990s.[51]


The Cameroonian journalist Thérèse Sita-Bella directed a 1963 documentary, Tam-Tam à Paris, and Sarah Maldoror, a French filmmaker of Guadeloupean descent, shot the feature-film Sambizanga in Angola in 1972. But the first African woman film director to gain international recognition was the Senegalese ethnologist Safi Faye with a film about the village in which she was born (Letter from the Village, 1975). The 1989 Créteil International Women's Film Festival included short films by Leonie Yangba Zowe of the Central African Republic (Yangba-Bola and Lengue, 1985) and Flora M'mbugu-Schelling of Tanzania.[52] Other African women filmmakers include Anne Mungai, Fanta Régina Nacro (The Night of Truth, 2004), Tsitsi Dangarembga (Mother's Day, 2004) and Marguerite Abouet, an Ivorian graphic novel writer who co-directed an animated film based on her graphic novel: Aya de Yopougon (2012). The most successful film in the history of Nollywood, The Wedding Party, was directed by Kemi Adetiba in 2016.

Cameroonian-Belgian Rosine Mbakam, who directed two feature-length documentaries, "The Two Faces of a Bamiléké Woman” (2016) and “Chez Jolie Coiffure” (2018), has been described as "one of the foremost filmmakers of creative nonfiction working right now."[53]



The Indian film industry has been an ongoing success since the revolutionary start of their musicals and romantic family dramas. Majority of these popular “Masala” films are usually directed by men.[54] Female roles in the filmmaking industry were solely restricted to acting, singing and dancing. However, recently women have stepped up and took the lead as successful directors, producing films mainly revolving around female issues within society.[55] Like majority of women around the world, Women in India have been struggling to prove their point.[55] Films made by women were usually categorized as art films or films of the parallel cinema. Indian women filmmakers could not have full access to funds and film publicity like male filmmakers did.[55] Mainstream cinema in India basically consists of the “Masala Movies”, which includes several genres such as comedy, action, revenge, tragedy, romance combined together to create an entire film.[56] Women continuously face struggles with attempting to get a fraction of the millions of dollars spend of these masala films.[56] This forces women to drift away from the masala genre in order to get some recognition, which can often cause controversies and raises suspicion[56].

A number of well-known Indian female filmmakers have achieved astounding commercial success from their films, including Mira Nair, Aparna Sen, Deepa Mehta, Gurinder Chadha, and Manju Borah. However, there are a number of other Indian women filmmakers who have made some remarkable films that go beyond just entertainment; they take advantage of their platform to address a range of social and political issues.[57] Other noteworthy Indian women filmmakers include Vijaya Nirmala, Nisha Ganatra, Sonali Gulati, Indu Krishnan, Eisha Marjara, Pratibha PJaaparmar, Nandini Sikand, Ish Amitoj Kaur, Harpreet Kaur, Leena Manimekalai and Shashwati Talukdar, Rima Das.

Deepa Mehta

Deepa Mehta is known as a transnational filmmaker whose work in film is recognized internationally at the highest levels. Her emotionally moving, award-winning films have been played at almost every major film festival across the globe, and rank as favorites amongst many.[58] She produced the film Heaven on Earth, in 2008, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Since its release, the film has turned into a useful tool for professionals who specialize in assisting abused women, specifically looking at the circumstances of immigrant women in abusive environments, as it has been screened at conferences of crown attorneys, judges and healthcare workers in order to help them better understand these women's situations.[57] Fire (1997) is a story of two sisters in law who go against their traditions and culture aiming to begin a new life together.[56] When the movie was first screened in Bombay, it caused a backlash by a few political parties such as the Shiv Sena.[56] Majority of the theaters stopped screening the film because of the violent mob attacks which caused serious damage to the theatre hall and property.[56] The attackers did not want the film to be screened because it went against their beliefs and was a violation to “Indian culture”.[59] The Indian society is still not equipped to understand and accept gay and lesbian relationships into their community. On the other hand, there are some who praised Mehta's film for showcasing social issues India was facing.

Some of her other well-known works include her elemental trilogy: Earth (1996), Fire (1998), Water (2005), where dominant masculine values and practices of oppression and exploitation of women are challenged in this compelling three part series.[60] Mehta's film Earth (1998) was inspired from Bapsi Sidhwa’s “Cracking India”, which was a story revolving the India-Pakistan Partition of 1947 and had a successful outcome.[59] Mehta began working on her last film, Water (2005), in her trilogy. The movie was set in the 1930s when India was fighting for independence against the British colonial rule.[59] The film portrays a group of widows who struggle with poverty in the city of Varanasi.[59] It also looks at the dynamic between one of the widows, who aims to be free from the social restrictions forced upon widows and a man who is from a lower social class and is a follower of Mahatma Gandhi.[59] Feminist social issues are highlighted, such as the mistreatment of widows, religious misogyny, and child brides in rural parts of India.[57] Mehta was forced to stop the film production because of the political party of Hindu extremists in relation to Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP), responded by stating that the film tarnishes India's image and was associated in organizing attempt by the Christian church to revolt against Hinduism.[59] She received an Oscar Nomination for Water in 2007.[61] Other notable films of hers are Bollywood/Hollywood (2002), and the adaptation of Midnight's Children (2012).[58]

Mira Nair, a talented and accomplished Indian filmmaker, has written, produced and directed a plethora of award-winning documentaries. Her unique ability to provoke both western and non-western viewers in a variety of ways has led her to be seen as a non-traditional filmmaker who is not afraid of creating controversy through her work.[62] So Far From India (1983) depicted the story of a young, working Indian immigrant in New York City and his harrowing experience of acculturation. While dealing with his own new struggles in America, he also has to worry about his pregnant wife back home.[62] India Cabaret (1986), is a documentary-style film that lent a voice to strippers or cabaret dancers in Mumbai.[62] Beyond these impressive works, she also has a list of feature films under her belt; her debut feature film, Salaam Bombay! (1988), which detailed the urban devastation created by prostitution and poverty, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1988, won the Prix du Publique for most popular entry at the Cannes Film Festival, the Camera D'Or for best first feature, as well as 25 other international awards.[63]

Haifa Al-Mansour

Majority of female filmmakers in India try to change the film industry by bringing in real social issues, instead of the mainstream masala movies that India has been known for.[59] Daman (2001) is directed by Lajma who decided to take on a unique yet distinct theme by raising awareness about marital rape.[59] The leading actress won an award for her outstanding raw performance that revived Indian films that try to raise awareness regarding a serious social issue.[59]

Saudi Arabia[edit]

Haifa Al-Mansour is the first Saudi female filmmaker and is considered to be Saudi's most controversial film creator, especially after her iconic film that created a buzz, Wadjda.[64] She completed her undergraduate studies in the American University in Cairo then continued to pursue her master's degree in film production from the University of Sydney in Australia.[64] One of her three successful short films, Women Without Shadows, inspired hundreds of uprising Saudi filmmakers as well as raising questions towards the issue of publicly opening cinemas in Saudi.[64] Her films have been both celebrated and criticized due to the fact that her work brings serious social topics Saudis are struggling with regarding their conservative culture and traditions.[65]

In Wadjda, the main character, Waad Mohammed decides to go against social norms imposed on a ten-year-old girl in the kingdom. She becomes an outcast because of the bicycle she rides in public.[65] However, the film ends on a light and inspiring note that frees Wadjda from all the social constraints set upon her. Haifa al Mansour reflects a portion of the Saudi society that refuses to accept the submissive traditional way of living.[66] However, Wadjda promotes an amount of freedom for female rights that need more than an overnight change in such a conservative and restricted culture.[66]


In Japan for a long time Kinuyo Tanaka was the only woman to make feature films. She was able to do this against fierce resistance because she enjoyed a status as star actress. Using genre conventions, she showed women "with a humorous affection rare in Japanese cinema of the period" (Philip Kemp).[citation needed]

Currently, the best-known women filmmaker of Japan may be Naomi Kawase; 2007 she won the Grand Prix in Cannes, while Memoirs of a fig tree, the directorial debut of well-known actress Kaori Momoi, saw the light of the day in 2006. The sociocritical adventure film K-20: Legend of the Mask by Shimako Sato's was Sa breakthrough into a bigger budget; it starred Takeshi Kaneshiro and was released all over the world.

South Korea[edit]

Similarly in South Korea, Yim Soon-rye landed a box-office-hit with Forever the Moment, while So Yong Kim got some attention for her film In Between Days and Lee Suk-Gyung made the women-themed and subtly feminist The Day After.


One of the important fifth-generation filmmakers of China is Ning Ying, who won several prizes for her films; in contrast to the controversy over some of her sixth-generation colleagues such as Zhang Yimou, who got accused of having sold out their ideals, Ning Ying has gone on to realize small independent films with themes strongly linked to Chinese daily life, therefore also being a link between the 5th and 6th generation. The Sixth Generation has seen a growing number of women filmmakers such as Liu Jiayin, best known for her film Oxhide, and Xiaolu Guo; in 2001 Li Yu caused quite a stir with her lesbian love story Fish and Elephant.[citation needed]

The most famous women filmmaker from Hong Kong is undoubtedly[citation needed] Ann Hui, who has made a wide array of films ranging from the wuxia genre to drama; Ivy Ho and Taiwanese Sylvia Chang also are known names in the Hong Kong industry, while in Taiwan queer filmmaker Zero Chou has gotten acclaim on festivals around the world.

Lindan Hu has documented the post-Mao re-emergence of female desire in women's cinema of the 1980s in mainland China. The films Hu considers are Army Nurse directed by Hu Mei and Women on the Long March directed by Liu Miaomiao.[67]


Yasmin Ahmad (1958–2009) is considered one of the most important directors of Malaysia; originally a commercial director, she switched to feature films relatively late and gained international acclaim while also stirring controversy among conservatives in her home country.


In Pakistan, where the film industry is not very big, some prominent and brilliant[according to whom?] directors are working. Conventional film industry has directors like Sangeeta and Shamim Ara who are making films with feminist themes. Especially to Sangeeta's credit there are some issue-based films. Now some new directors from television industry are also coming towards the medium of films. Sabiha Sumar and Mehreen Jabbar are two new names for films in Pakistan and are making brilliant films.[citation needed] Both of these directors have made films which are not only issue based addressing national issues but also these films have won international awards at different film festivals.


Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, a writer and a director, is probably Iran's best known and certainly most prolific female filmmaker. She has established herself as the elder stateswoman of Iranian cinema with documentaries and films dealing with social pathology. Contemporary Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad (1935—1967) was also a filmmaker. Her best-known film is The House is Black (Khane siah ast, 1962), a documentary of a leper colony in the north of Iran. Samira Makhmalbaf directed her first film The Apple when she was only 17 years old and won Cannes Jury Prize in 2000 for her following film The Blackboard. Her stepmother Marzieh Meshkini made "The Day I Became a Woman" and Samira's sister Hana Makhmalbaf started her career with "The Joy of Madness", a behind-the-scenes documentary about Samira's film "At Five in the Afternoon", and has subsequently made two features, Buddha Collapsed out of Shame and "Green Days", a film about the Green Revolution that was banned in Iran.

Sri Lanka[edit]

Sumitra Peries is a veteran film director in Sri Lankan cinema and she is the wife of great Lester James Peries. She also held the post of Sri Lanka's ambassador to France, Spain and the United Nations in the late 1990s.

Inoka Sathyangani is an internationally acclaimed Sri Lankan film director and producer. In the year 2002, she received many number awards for her maiden effort Sulang Kirilli, which deals with the theme of abortion. The film secured the highest number of awards won by a single film in the history of Sri Lanka's film industry.

Latin American women in cinema[edit]


Marta Rodriguez is a Colombian documentary film maker.


Though women played a "minimal" role in the development of cinema in Argentina, two pioneering women were the director María Luisa Bemberg and the producer Lita Stantic.[68] Lucrecia Martel is a major figure of the Argentinean "buena onda", the post-economic crash new cinema. Lucia Puenzo is the other prominent contemporary Argentinean director. Each of them has made three features to date (2014). In addition, María Victoria Menis has written and directed several critically acclaimed films, including La cámara oscura (2008) and María y el araña (2013).


Brazilian Cinema has a number of women directors whose works date from the 1930s. Brazilian women directors' most prolific era unfolds from the 1970s. Some contemporary names include: Ana Carolina, Betse De Paula, Carla Camurati, Eliane Caffé, Helena Solberg, Lúcia Murat, Sandra Kogut, Suzana Amaral, and Tata Amaral.


Mariana Chenillo became the first female director to win an Ariel Award for Best Picture back in 2010.

Women filmmakers in Latin America, specifically Mexico suffer from absolute neglect by the film industry and audience.[69] Mimí Derba founded one of the first Mexican production companies, Azteca Films. She had a successful career in vaudeville before entering films. Derba was the first female director in Mexico. Then Matilde Landeta was a Mexican filmmaker and screenwriter, who was the first female to serve in those roles during the Golden Age of Mexican cinema. Her films focused on the portrayal of strong, realistic female protagonists in a patriarchal world. Landeta won an Ariel Award in 1957 for Best Original Story for the film El camino de la vida which she co-wrote with her brother Eduardo. The film also won the 1957 Golden Ariel, the Silver Ariel Film of Major National Interest and Best Direction and two other awards in 1956 in the Berlin International Film Festival under the name of Alfonso Corona Blake.[70] In the 1980s and 1990s things started to take a turn. Women filmmakers in Mexico finally got the opportunity to create and produce professional feature films.[69] The most popular two would be El secreto de Romeila (1988) directed by Busi Cortés and Los pasos de Ana (1990) by Marisa Sistach.[69] These two feature films were considered the doors that opened opportunity for women filmmakers in Mexico as well as created a new genre that people were not familiar with, labeled as ‘women’s cinema’.[69] The phenomenal growth of ‘women’s cinema’, not only meant that there would be an infinite expansion in the list of female names as filmmakers or creators; in reality, it created a daunting cinematic genre by objectifying women as well as displacing them within the film industry.[69]

Arcelia Ramírez actress best known for Verónica (2017), Instructions Not Included (2013) and Such Is Life (2000).

Most of the female filmmakers in Mexico recognize as feminists. The primary reason for many of them to commit to being filmmakers was to depict stories of women in their original and true essence as well as to strive in readapting roles of females on the Mexican screen.[69] According to Patricia Torres San Martín, an honorable film scholar, there is a new theme emerging within the film industry in Mexico which is known as the ‘new female identity’.[69] This new structural change in cinema created a geographical cultural change in Mexico due to its new emerged eye-opening concept in the film industry.[69] One of Maria Novaro first short films (a school work: An Island Surrounded by Water, 1984) was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York for its permanent film collection and was distributed in the United States by Women Make Movies. Maria's 1994 El Jardín del Edén (The Garden of Eden) obtain her a second nomination for the Ariel Award for Best Picture the first for a woman in Mexico. In the Garden of Eden, three very different women find themselves in the Mexican-American border town of Tijuana, each with her own goal. The women: struggling artist Elizabeth (Rosario Sagrav), Jane (Renée Coleman), who's looking for her brother, and Serena (Gabriela Roel), a widow who just arrived in town with her family in tow. Although the trio come from different cultural backgrounds -- Serena is Mexican, Jane is American and Elizabeth is Mexican-American -- all three are similarly in search of a new direction.

Mariana Chenillo became the first female director to win an Ariel Award for Best Picture back in 2010 for the film Nora's Will. The Ariel is the Mexican Academy of Film Award. In cinema, it is considered Mexico's equivalent to the Academy Awards ("Oscars") of the United States. The film gives a mysterious photograph left under the bed will lead to an unexpected outcome which will remind us that sometimes the greatest love stories are hidden in the smallest places. Issa López wrote the scripts for several film features, three of them produced in Mexico by the Major Hollywood Studios, and two of those directed by herself; Efectos Secundarios (Warner Bros., 2006) and Casi Divas Almost Divas (Sony Pictures, 2008). Casi Divas is the only Mexican movie to be scored by acclaimed Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer. Makes her a Mexican filmmaker, one to watch.



Binka Zhelyazkova was the first Bulgarian woman to direct a feature film with Life Flows Quietly By... in 1957 and was one of the few women worldwide to direct feature films in the 1950s.

Irina Aktasheva, a Russian, made several Bulgarian films during the 1960s and 1970s, including Monday Morning in 1965.[71] Radka Bachvarova was a Bulgarian director of animation.[72] Lada Boyadjieva had two films compete for the Short Film Palme d'Or in 1961 and 1962. Ivanka Grybcheva made films in the 1970s and 1980s.


The first Danish feature film to be directed by a woman was Ud i den kolde sne from 1934, directed by Alice O'Fredericks, who would go on to be one of the most prolific Danish film directors. She initially co-directed her films with Lau Lauritzen Jr., however in the 1940s she started directing films on her own. She is credited with directing more than 70 feature films as well as writing screenplays for more than 30 films making her one is one of the most productive directors in Danish cinema and among her most memorable films are the Far til Fire-films and the filmatization of the Morten Korch novels, which were all very popular during the Golden Age of Danish Cinema. She is also noted for her films focusing on women and women's rights.

In the 1940s the star actress Bodil Ipsen and the screenwriter Grete Frische joined O'Fredericks in directing mainstream feature films. Ipsen would towards the end of her career co-direct with Lau Lauritsen Jr. and Fische would co-direct Så mødes vi hos Tove with O'Fredericks.

Other prolific Danish directors include Astrid Henning-Jensen, who became the first female director to be nominated for an Academy Award with Paw, Susanne Bier, the first female director to win a Golden Globe, an Academy Award, an Emmy Award and a European Film Award, and Lone Scherfig, whose films have been nominated for Academy Awards, BAFTAs and a European Film Award.

The oldest Danish film award is named Bodil Award after Bodil Ipsen and Bodil Kjer, and the Alice Award, which is award to the best female director at the Copenhagen International Film Festival is named in honor of Alice O'Fredericks.


In the silent era French women directors were prominent Alice Guy-Blaché directed around 700 films and is credited with introducing the narrative form. Germaine Dulac was one of the most creative art film directors and went on to be the leader of the French cinéclub movement. Marie-Louise Iribe developed from being an actor into owing a production company and directing significant feature films.

Agnes Varda

During the "golden age" of "Classical" French cinema Jacqueline Audry was the only woman to direct commercial films. In 1959 writer Marguerite Duras wrote the script for Alain Resnais' Hiroshima Mon Amour. She turned to directing with La Musica in 1966. Among the best known French women film makers are Agnès Varda, Claire Denis, Diane Kurys, Danièle Huillet, Nelly Kaplan and Catherine Breillat. The work of many more French female directors is rarely screened outside France. Others include Zabou Breitman, Julie Delpy, Virginie Despentes, Valérie Donzelli, Pascale Ferran, Alice Guy-Blaché, Maïwenn (Le Besco), Mia Hansen-Love, Agnès Jaoui, Isild le Besco, Noémie Lvovsky, Tonie Marshall, Christelle Raynal, Céline Sciamma, Coline Serreau, and Danièle Thompson.

The cinema of France is one of the strongest countries that form films. It is the birthplace of cinema that contributed both the artistic expression and the film-production process itself. There are three pioneering female filmmakers who left of their heritage and recorded their history in the beginning, middle, and the end. Female director, Alice Guy was existent during the birth of cinema.[73] Germain Dulac was around Avant-Garde cinema during the 1920s.[73] Lastly, Agnés Varda (1954) came along the movement of the New Wave.[73] All three filmmakers came in power along the same routes. Alice Guy was a secretary to Leon Gaumont before the making of her very own first film, which was a year later after the birth of cinema, 1854 to be exact.[73] On the other hand, Germain Dulac had studied music first then became a film logician and a journalist. She focused closely on still photography just before the making of her very own first film in the year 1926.[73] While, Agnés Varda fascinated with art history at first, but then went towards film and photography in 1954.[73] All there premature backgrounds have made them powerful later on in time, through practise and hard work they are able to distinguish different and creative film techniques.[73] They all have the same belief of cinematic language, in which cinema belongs to the hands of a woman and that cinema is their own technological tool to space things in whichever way they wish.[73]

Since Alice Guy was working for Gaumont, she was responsible in the production side of the company for being the director, the filmmaker, and set manger. From being a secretary to a  head she had created 406 films during this period of time.[73] Most of her films were between 20 and 90 minutes, for a film to be created for this long during this time would be considered to be a short film, but knowing the fact that it was made earlier before is exceptional during the early years.[73] Alice Guy had the chance to shoot some of her films in a different way than Gaumont's forerunner the Lumiere Brothers. The brothers were mostly interested in shooting films of showing what the cameras can capture and not what they express.[73] For example, having shots of trains or the military marching repeatedly. Guy was not so interested in repetitiveness in films, although she was slightly influenced by them, she had decided to think of something better and comedic.[73] Here she gave in a bunch of short comedic films to Gaumont and approved of her films.[73] This was the first step for being a pioneer. It had let her experience the futuristic side of cinema.[73] Within a year of her submission of short films, they have become a complete success. Her film of La Passion or so called La Vie du Christ was a work of art in which she has worked on for years. This has included twenty-five sets along with a number if exterior areas and  around or over three hundred crowd scenes.[73]

At the time where Germain Dulac was shooting to make her first film in 1916, the film industry in France was in an unusual state because of the early booming that has happened in 1901–04.[73] During 1910, around sixty to seventy percent of films were sent out worldwide from Paris, however, during 1914 the industry started to decline these films because it lacked investment and production tools for practices.[73] Later on over the years in 1920, the new cinema in France began because of avant-garde filmmaking and the first movement of film theory, in which Dulac was interested in.[73] Dulac started off as a journalist for feminism journals that are called La Fraciase and La Fronde, in which she later on combined it with her interest in still photography that has made her think and make connections between the camera lens and feminism.[73] She had a strong belief towards cinema, she knew that cinema can demonstrate so much significance through a lens. Using cinematography was one way of expressing rhythmic structures and meanings in film. She was highly influenced by music in her early life, in which she incorporated in films to visually see the movement of music.[73] She had made her films sound poetic to show and express emotion and even had the thought to represent females from her inspiration of being a feminist journalist.[73] Dulac's work had made her establish the idea of cinema writing to be able to mark female subjectivity.[73] She was also very inspired by Guy and took one of her techniques of motion photography and gave it a voice of females.[73] One of the films she is famous for is called La Souriante Madame Beudet (The Smiling Madame Beudet) created in 1923. This film is established to be one of the best feminist films out there. It revolves around the idea of having a hard-working female in an unwanted relationship.[73]

Agnes Varda's work focuses on relating her films to life, she makes her fictional and non-fictional facts shown through film. She shows the life of a person internally and outside the world to be able to prove the reality of life.[73] Varda structured one of her films by having side to side narrations, meaning having two narrations at once.[73] The first structural attribute she used to film was objectivity, which was showing detachment from the actual story.[73] Without objectivity there would be subjectivity in her films, which would later make the objectivity look arranged and unrealistic. Some of her films do not show depth because she herself is detached from the characters.[73] Most of the characters shown are not as central than any other characters in a film that the viewer will see, she dramatizes the narration already than it is dramatized. In her film, La Pointe Courte she decided to make it feel different to make the audience evaluate her film effectively.[73]


The Economist wrote of Leni Riefenstahl that Triumph of the Will "sealed her reputation as the greatest female filmmaker of the 20th century".[citation needed]

German woman filmmakers Helke Sander and Cristina Perincioli are also pioneers of the feminist movement[74] Other prominent female film-makers include Margarethe von Trotta and Helma Sanders-Brahms. Monika Treut has also won recognition for her depictions of queer and alternative sexuality. Contemporary German-language women directors of note include Maren Ade, Barbara Albert, Doris Dörrie, Frauke Finsterwalder, Katja von Garnier, Jessica Hausner, Nicolette Krebitz, Caroline Link and Angela Schanelec.

Feminist German movies were helped and praised by all kind of organisations ; Festivals, cinemas just for women (Frauenkino), newspaper "frauen und film", association of film makers... Those tended to be exclusively for women, arguing that they wanted to bring balance. Different objectives were pursued with those organisations : more attention, more discussion and claims like 50% of the grant allowed to film makers should be given to female directors.[75] How feminist filmmaking developed? Cristina Perincioli describes her first steps in 1971 [1]


In Hungary Marta Meszaros has been making important films for decades.


Elvira Notari was a pioneer of Italian cinema, and she was followed by other prominent female directors as Lina Wertmüller and Liliana Cavani.


Chantal Akerman was a notable Belgian director. Her best-known film is Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975).


New female Norwegian film directors[edit]

Female film directors in Norway did not draw much attention from their audience and therefore were being neglected. With this current generation, many Norwegian female directors had showed courageous development proving the importance of female filmmakers. Film directors Anja Breien, Vibeke Lokkeberg, and Laila Mikkelsen are considered to be the top female primary filmmakers that had showed great advancement in Norwegian films. Most documentaries showcase crucial critiques about discriminating females. These three leaders have showed the difference between Norway's current filmmaking generation from their past filming generations. Social and economic aspects are two categories that have aroused females to become film directors. Brien, Lokkeberg, and Mikkelsen have been strongly influenced by male filmmakers and have adapted some film techniques in their own documentaries.

Important male directors such as Tancered Ibsen and Arne Skouen are the two most prominent figures that have lived in the U.S to learn and borrow different film techniques and styles. For example, Ibsen toured around areas in the States such as Hollywood to pick up different stylistic techniques. One technique he borrowed was synchronous sound, which he incorporated in many films.[76] Later on, Skouen also known as a journalist, came along to collect some of these techniques and adopt them in some of his own films, this has helped him become not only a film director, but also a critic and novelist. Most of Skouen's work are shown having male actors and a few female ones. His films are usually based on heroic characters showing male leadership and action. One of the films he created is called Nine Lives, which bases on a character of a group aiming to disrupt an air tower. While, Ibsen's work generally shows a bit more of female figures in his comedic films that focus on social standards. For him, characterization is the key component to making successful films. He prefers to film scenes through natural causes or different weather conditions. This is where the three top female leaders come along. These two important male figures are what made the three film directors borrow such creative techniques. For example, the techniques used by Ibsen filming outdoor settings and long camera shots has moved towards Brein, in which she has incorporated in her own films like Witch Hunt. On the other hand, Skouen's filming styles on social issues has been used by Mikkelsen film called Growing Up and Lokkeberg's The Story of Kamilla.[76] From this, we can see a huge shift of female directors from the past to the current. These films that they have created are shown and characterized as the main and center of attention. There are similarities from the male directors, which was the use of techniques, but the differences are the approaches that the female directors are trying to convey.


Portuguese editor and director Manuela Viegas' 1999 film Gloria, premiered in competition at the 57th Berlinale, is considered in her country the climax of a cinema of feminin sensibility. Other Portuguese female film directors include Teresa Villaverde, Catarina Ruivo, Raquel Freire, Margarida Gil, Cláudia Tomaz and Rita Azevedo Gomes. The current President of the Portuguese Directors Association is Margarida Gil.[77]


Ana Mariscal was a pioneer among Spanish female filmmakers. She was also a prolific actress in the 1940s and 1950s. In the early 1950s she became a producer and shortly after started directing and writing her own films. Her best-known film is perhaps El camino (1963), an adaptation of the novel by Miguel Delibes. Other films include Segundo López, aventurero urbano (1953) inspired by Italian neorealism or Con la vida hicieron fuego (1959), about a former combatant of the Republican faction who tries to start a new life while battling the haunting memories of the Spanish Civil War.

Josefina Molina, also a novelist, started her career in the 1960s. She was the first woman who graduated from Spain's National Film School in 1967. Her prolific TV résumé includes the highly successful miniseries Teresa de Jesús (1984), a dramatization of Teresa of Avila's life. Her work on film includes Vera, un cuento cruel (1974), Función de noche (1981) or Esquilache (1989) which was entered into the 39th Berlin International Film Festival.

Pilar Miró was a celebrated director and screenwriter of film and TV whose notable works include Gary Cooper, Who Art in Heaven (1980), Prince of Shadows (1991) which won the Silver Bear for outstanding artistic contribution at the 42nd Berlin International Film Festival and El perro del hortelano (1996), an adaptation of a Lope de Vega play which won 7 Goya Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. She was also in charge of Spain's national broadcast television TVE from 1986 to 1989.

Icíar Bollaín made her acting debut as a teenager under Víctor Erice's direction in El sur (1983). She made the jump to directing and writing in 1995 with Hola, ¿estás sola? which earned her a nomination for a Goya Award for Best New Director. Her subsequent filmography includes Flores de otro mundo (1999) winner of the Grand Prix award at the International Critics' Week at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival, Te doy mis ojos (2003) which won her a Goya Award for Best Director and a nomination for a European Film Award for Best Director or Even the Rain (2010) which made the January shortlist for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Isabel Coixet directed numerous commercials during the 1990s for clients like IKEA, Pepsi or Ford. She usually films in English with international actors. Some of her best known films include My Life Without Me (2003), starring Sarah Polley, Mark Ruffalo, Scott Speedman and Deborah Harry, The Secret Life of Words (2005) once again starring Polley as well as Tim Robbins and Julie Christie, a segment on the omnibus film Paris, je t'aime (2006) and the Philip Roth adaptation Elegy (2008) starring Ben Kingsley, Penélope Cruz, Dennis Hopper and Patricia Clarkson.

Gracia Querejeta has won acclaim for her ensemble dramas By My Side Again (1999), Héctor (2004) and Seven Billiard Tables (2007). She has also directed documentaries and TV episodes.

Other notable filmmakers include María Ripoll (Tortilla Soup, The Man with Rain in His Shoes), Patricia Ferreira, Chus Gutiérrez, María Lidón aka Luna (Stranded: Náufragos, Moscow Zero), Rosa Vergés, Lydia Zimmermann, or Laura Mañá.

United Kingdom[edit]

Joy Batchelor was an English animator, director, screenwriter, and producer. She married John Halas in 1940,[78] and subsequently co-established Halas and Batchelor cartoons, whose best known production is the animated feature film Animal Farm (1954), which made her the first woman director of an animated feature since Lotte Reiniger.

Muriel Box was an English screenwriter and director, directing her first film in 1941.[79]

In Britain Jane Arden (1927–82), following up her television drama The Logic Game (1965), wrote and starred in the film Separation (Jack Bond 1967), which explores a woman's mental landscape during a marital breakup. Arden went on to be the only British woman to gain a solo feature-directing credit for The Other Side of the Underneath (1972), a disturbing study of female madness shot mainly in South Wales. Arden's overtly feminist work was neglected and almost lost until the British Film Institute rediscovered and reissued her three features, and the short Vibration (1974), in 2009.

Andrea Arnold won a 2005 Academy Award for her short film Wasp, and has twice won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, in 2006 for Red Road, and in 2009 for Fish Tank.

Two of Lynne Ramsay's early short films (Small Deaths and Gasman) won the Prix du Jury at the Cannes Film Festival, and her subsequent four feature films, Ratcatcher (1999), Morvern Callar (2002), We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011), and You Were Never Really Here (2017) have all screened at the Cannes Festival.

Mamma Mia! directed by Phyllida Lloyd became the #5 highest-grossing film of 2008[80] and the highest-grossing film ever in the United Kingdom.[81] Lloyd's next film, the Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady (2012) grossed $114 million worldwide.[82] Debbie Isitt has directed successful mainstream films, including "Confetti" and the "Nativity!" trilogy.

Cinenova is a London-based organization that distributes women produced films.

Sally Potter is a prominent British feminist film maker.

British filmmakers Ngozi Onwurah and Pratibha Parmar explore the legacies of colonialism.

Partially as a result of funding from the UK Film Council (disbanded in 2010), a new generation of British female filmmakers has emerged in the 21st-century, including Penny Woolcock, Carol Morley, Joanna Hogg, Clio Barnard, Sally El Hosaini, Amma Asante, and Tina Gharavi. Gallery artists Gillian Wearing and Sam Taylor-Wood have both moved into feature cinema, with Taylor-Wood (now Taylor-Johnson) named as director of the adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey.[83]


Australian Gothic films[edit]

Gothic films incorporate Gothic elements and can be infused within different genres such as horror, romance, science fiction, and comedy. Australian Gothic films have been an accordant genera ever since the 1970s.[84] Gothic Australian films means to make films that are diverse and use camera techniques in different ways to question what the audience may perceive. One of the Australian Gothic films created by female filmmakers: Suzan Dermody and Elizabeth Jacka called The Screening of Australia (1987), shows different stylistic thematic terms and was the most successful at showing what is called the ocker. The ocker is a term to describe an Australian savage man.[84] Other than this, there is a strong relationship between Australian Gothic films and Gothic literature. The characters and the actions that happen in a Gothic novel is created into a Gothic film. Most Gothic novels during the 1970s referred to female characters and their Australian cultural values. Although the film Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) was directed by a male filmmaker, it was written by a female storyteller Joan Lindsay. Lindsay decided to make this film culturally related to Australian societal issues of day-to-day lives.[84] Her film included Gothic materials and gave a twist of horror that later the director will showcase through the mise-en-scene and cinematography. The use of Gothic materials were offered by the filmmakers Dermody and Jacka to other Australian Gothic films that have opened up to a more thematic analysis. Other Gothic films were made to broaden Australian characteristics and features, a film called Smoke Em If You Got ‘Em (1988) produced by Jennifer Hooks showcased the protagonist in a super natural horrific way, but also added a comedic twist to not lose its characterization of film style.[84]

Films (selection)[edit]








Film festivals[edit]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]