Women’s Pictures: 75 great films you may not have seen…

Since it’s International Women’s Day, I thought I’d put together a list of some of my favourite films directed by women. It was going to be 50 fiction features, but even by restricting each director to just one title, that meant leaving out rather too many movies I really wanted to mention, so I tried raising the number to 60. But that was still too painful, because I didn’t want to leave out some great documentaries, so I upped the list to 75. At which point I decided to leave it at that, partly because I don’t know nearly as much as those women who have specialised in the subject, partly because I’m not my friend Mark Cousins, and partly because I was running out of time.

This is not intended as a ‘greatest’ list, merely as selection of 75 films I’ve seen over the years which I liked enormously. Where a director has a lot of fine work to her name, I’ve tended not to opt for her best-known film but for something you’re perhaps less likely to have seen. Inevitably, of course, you will find that some of your own favourite movies are not on the list; that might mean that I haven’t seen the films in question, that they slipped my mind (I’m sure many did), or that I simply don’t happen to share your enthusiasm. No matter: you have seen those films and been impressed by them, so what would you have gained by my listing them? Somewhere in the list below, there will, I hope, be some other films you might find enjoyable and/or impressive. There’s a lot of good stuff there.

All Is Well (Eva Trobisch)

Amour fou (Jessica Hausner)

Angels Wear White (Vivian Qu)

Archipelago (Joanna Hogg)

The Ascent (Larisa Shepitko)

Atlantique (Mati Diop)

Blackboards (Samira Makhmalbaf)

Black Shack Alley (Euzhan Palcy)

Blue Car (Karen Moncrieff)

Le Bonheur (Agnès Varda)

Boys Don’t Cry (Kimberley Peirce)

The Boys Next Door (Penelope Spheeris)

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller)

Capernaüm (Nadine Labaki)

La Captive (Chantal Akerman)

Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)

Clueless (Amy Heckerling)

Dance, Girl, Dance (Dorothy Arzner)

Daisies (Vera Chytilová)

Faithless (Liv Ullmann)

La Fiancée du pirate (Nelly Kaplan)

Flowers from Another World (Icíar Bollaín)

From the Land of the Moon (Nicole Garcia)

Girlfriends (Claudia Weill)

Gisela (Isabelle Stever)

God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya (Teona Strugar Mitevska)

Gwendolyn (Ruth Kaaserer)

Happy as Lazaro (Alice Rohrwacher)

The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel)

Heaven (Diane Keaton)

Her Name Is Sabine (Sandrine Bonnaire)

The Hitch-Hiker (Ida Lupino)

Hour of the Star (Suzana Amaral)

The House Is Black (Forugh Farrokhzad)

How I Killed My Father (Anne Fontaine)

The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow) 

I Shot Andy Warhol (Mary Harron)

The Kill-Off (Maggie Greenwald)

The Last Mistress (Catherine Breillat)

Let the Sunshine In (Claire Denis)

Lifelong (Asli Özge)

Look at Me (Agnès Jaoui)

Losing Ground (Kathleen Collins)

Mademoiselle Paradis (Barbara Albert)

Mudbound (Dee Rees)

Mug (Malgorzata Szumowska)

My Brilliant Career (Gillian Armstrong)

A New Leaf (Elaine May)

Peau neuve (Emilie Deleuze)

Portrait of Jason (Shirley Clarke) 

Red Road (Andrea Arnold)

Rien à faire (Marion Ventoux)

Sacrificed Youth (Zhang Nuanxing)

The Selfish Giant (Clio Barnard)

Shock Waves – Diary of My Mind (Ursula Meier)

Shoes (Lois Weber)

Shirkers (Sandi Tan)

The Silences of the Palace (Moufida Tlatli)

Since Otar Left (Julie Bertucelli)

Stray Dog (Debra Granik)

Sweet Bean (Naomi Kawase)

Sweetie (Jane Campion)

Things to Come (Mia Hansen-Løve)

Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)

Under the Skin of the City (Rakhshan Banietemad)

Walking and Talking (Nicole Holofcener)

Wanda (Barbara Loden)

Water Lilies (Céline Sciamma)

Western (Valeska Grisebach)

Whale Rider (Niki Karo)

What Is Love (Ruth Mader)

Will It Snow for Christmas? (Sandrine Veysset)

Yes (Sally Potter)

You Are Not I (Sara Driver)

You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay)


3 thoughts on “Women’s Pictures: 75 great films you may not have seen…

  1. A couple of notable omissions. The late Lina Wertmuller for The Lizards or Swept Away.
    Also, the great Hungarian auteur Márta Mészáros for The Heiress or The Two of Them.


  2. Diane Kurys also deserves a mention, particularly for her perceptive tales of childhood such as C’est La Vie.


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