It’s only in the year 2010 that for the first time in the film history did a woman win and took home the prestigious accolade of the best director in that years Academy Awards, the female filmmakers still are not getting the same opportunities or recognition that they deserve as compared to their male counterparts (male directors).
When the female director, Kathryn Bigelow went to the dais to collect her Oscar earlier that year, she did so having been the only fourth woman to ever be nominated in the prestigious Academy Awards in the director category. Well we can’t say that the Academy panel certainly overlooks the female directors; however it is also a bad coincidence that only Kathryn Bigelow as a female director has ever won the prominent DGA and BAFTA awards as the top director, while Barbra Streisand happens to be the only female director to have ever won the outstanding Golden Globe as a winning director. Also the Cannes Film Festival has very poor records in recognizing the achievements of the women directors in the film world, and every year the film festival always comes under fire when very few or no films directed by the female gets selected for the main honors of the competition accolades.
Lack of female recognition doesn’t stem from the lack of quality movies. While the “Inception” by Christopher Nolan was getting the entire buzz, the two of the most celebrated American films with the best reviews that summer was directed by female: Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik) and The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko), only Toy Story 3 had a higher Meta score. As we shall see in a while, these are far from being the only critically acclaimed film titles from the female movie directors.
For decades, the women have always been directing in different genres ranging from the comic (Real Genius by Martha Coolidge, Wayne’s World by Penelope Spheeris, Big by Penny Marshall) and horrific films (Pet Sematary by Mary Lambert) to animation (Shrek by Vicky Jenson) and sports (Bend It Like Beckham by Gurinder Chadha). The female directors have also made a mark in the box office-flop category (Ishtar by Elaine May). However, not all genres have always been open to the female directors; for instance, few women other than Mimi Leder of Deep Impact or Kathryn Bigelow have ever had the occasion to direct an all action film.
The opportunities for the women directors in all genres are as always relatively rare. The San Diego State University’s Center for the Women Study in Film and Television regularly reports the trends in this industry, and the findings always confirm a very major disparity: only an average of 7% to 9% of the 250 top grossing films are directed by the women for the last 25 years. The gender disparity is always extending, though not quite severe, to the film goers and the film critics.
Right now we are not exploring the main possible reasons as to why such a huge gap of disparity exists; instead, we are cerebrating the female movie directors and also put our focus on the good work that they have done for the past 30 years in our film industry.
The women directors are awarded and recognised are various festivals like Cannes or Oscars. Celebrities across the world look forward to this award and they plan for their travel ahead. The flight tickets, visitor insurance, hotels, travel agencies, cabs are generally flooded with business during these festivals. When groups or family travel risks can be covered by travelers insurance; student travelers can avail rates and plans for students.
Almost all the well known directors are male. Just name it: Hitchcock, Welles, Spielberg, Kubrick. It’s no great mystery that the contribution of women to film directing is often overlooked by fans. Although small in number, their contributions of female directors to the industry is huge. One of the contemporary acclaimed female directors is Sofia Coppola, of the Coppola family fame (his father, Francis, directed the Godfather trilogy). She has had an illustrious career despite her young age: the 2003 film Lost in Translation remains one of her crowning achievement. Her film Somewhere (2010) won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
Claire Denis directed Chocolat (1998), a French film which was nominated for the Academy Award best picture. Jane Campion directed the poignant film The Piano (1993), which won the top award at the Cannes and three Academy Awards. Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker (2008) won the Oscar for Best Picture and bagged her the Best Director award. Women have been known as great filmmaker in the past too: the great German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl was the favorite choice of Hitler to do his propaganda work. She directed Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will), a Nazi propaganda piece that have been critically praised for its cinematic brilliance.
Doing research? Need Statistics on women in the entertainment industry? This section contains much of the information that might be helpful to those of you doing research, but please also check our Statistics section for amazing information and also our Databank.
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The Women Behind the Camera in Early Hollywood :: by Cari Beauchamp. This article is our flagship piece about historical women filmmakers. This is a don’t miss article. Also, listen to the companion audio podcast of Cari Beauchamp speaking in more detail on this topic.
- Julie Delpy: Interview about 2 Days in Paris (August 2007) :: by Heidi Martinuzzi
- Katja von Garnier: Interview about Blood and Chocolate (October 2006):: by Heidi Martinuzzi.
- Anya Camilleri: Interview about Incubus (October 2006):: by Heidi Martinuzzi.
- Directing Gender Buzz (Los Angeles Times, Feb 19th 2007) :: by Josh Friedman.
- In Hollywood, Perception of Equality Doesn’t Make It Real :: by Melissa Silverstein.
- Nothing Like Hollywood :: by Erin Trahan.
- Close Encounters with Laurel Chiten :: by Erin Trahan.
Growing Up – Filmmaker Lorna Lowe Streeter reflects on how “Shelter” her first documentary came to be and how asking and answering tough questions about a fractured mother-daughter relationship helped her transition into adulthood :: by Erin Trahan
Welcome to the premier website about movies directed by women.
This site includes information on historical women directors, statistics on women directors, and also includes Director interviews. We are a grassroots collective that has grown out of the passions of women directors who are working towards increasing the awareness of women’s contributions to film and television history. Our website is
done on a volunteer basis.
US based playwright Jennifer Haley has been awarded the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the most prestigious award for female playwrights for her play The Nether. She prevailed over 9 other finalists. Actress Imogene Stubbs handed out the $20,000 prize on behalf of the international jury.
The 41st New Directors/ New Film which partners the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art will open on March 21st with Nadine Labaki’s Where Do We Go Now which I caught last September at the Toronto Film Festival. The festival will end on April 1 with a surprise screening that will not be revealed untiil that evening. Here are the other female directed films at the festival.