An Ambitious List of 1400 Films Made by Female Filmmakers

It’s a tru­ism to say that Hol­ly­wood is a boy’s club but Dr. Sta­cy L. Smith of the Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia put this say­ing into stark, empir­i­cal terms: a mere 4.4% of the top 100 box-office releas­es in the USA were direct­ed by women. That’s it. It’s a per­cent­age that should be used to describe the amount of cream in whole milk, not half the human race.

The truth is that the film indus­try in gen­er­al, not just Hol­ly­wood, is dom­i­nat­ed by men. In books on cin­e­ma and class­es on film his­to­ry, female direc­tors fre­quent­ly get over­looked.

Over at MUBI, some­one apt­ly named Ally the List­mak­er has tak­en great pains to counter that. She has com­piled an exhaus­tive col­lec­tion of movies by women. The list runs the gamut from pop­corn fare like Amy Heckerling’s Clue­less (1995), to for­eign art house films like Chan­tal Akerman’s The Cap­tive (2000), to chal­leng­ing exper­i­men­tal movies (any­thing by Peg­gy Ahwesh).

Ally’s list con­tains over 1400 movie titles, most­ly films made with­in the past 20 years. Yet with­in this list are oth­ers lists – “Films Direct­ed by Dan­ish Women,” “Actress­es Who Have Tried Their Hand at Direct­ing” – reveal­ing a mind-bog­gling range and diver­si­ty of movies. Here are a few favorites:

  • The Glean­ers & I (2000) – Agnes Var­da
    A fas­ci­nat­ing med­i­ta­tion on art, aging and for­ag­ing off left­overs of oth­ers. Var­da turns the act of hunt­ing for pota­toes into a polit­i­cal act. You can watch the first four min­utes of the film above.
  • The Apple (1998) – Sami­ra Makhmal­baf
    The daugh­ter of Mohsen Makhmal­baf, one of the true trail­blaz­ers of the Iran­ian new wave, Sami­ra proved to be a cin­e­mat­ic tal­ent in her own right with this movie that blurs the line between doc­u­men­tary and nar­ra­tive.
  • Wendy and Lucy (2008) – Kel­ly Reichardt
    A woman at the mar­gins of soci­ety whose life utter­ly comes apart after her car breaks down. Riechardt’s direc­tion is slow, qui­et and ulti­mate­ly dev­as­tat­ing.
  • The Pervert’s Guide to Cin­e­ma (2006) – Sophie Fiennes
    Slavoj Zizek, the reign­ing rock star/comedian of the cul­tur­al the­o­ry world, riffs on some of the great­est films ever made.
  • Amer­i­can Psy­cho (2000) – Mary Har­ron
    Per­haps the best por­trait out there on the mind­set of the 1%. You’ll nev­er lis­ten to Huey Lewis and the News in the same way.

Check out the full list here. And if you’re inter­est­ed in more, take a look at this sub­list – Female Direc­tors Present on the Jonathan Rosen­baum 1000 Essen­tials List.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch The Hitch-Hik­er by Ida Lupino (the Only Female Direc­tor of a 1950s Noir Film)

Alice Guy-Blaché: The First Female Direc­tor & the Cin­e­mat­ic Trail­blaz­er You Like­ly Nev­er Heard Of

4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veep­to­pus, fea­tur­ing lots of pic­tures of bad­gers and even more pic­tures of vice pres­i­dents with octo­pus­es on their heads.  The Veep­to­pus store is here.

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