60 Free-to-Stream Movies for Women’s History Month: Classic Agnès Varda, a Portrait of Susan Sontag, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, and More

March is Wom­en’s His­to­ry Month, and every month is a good one for watch­ing movies. Well aware of both those facts, the peo­ple behind free-to-user online stream­ing ser­vice Kanopy have made a range of 60 woman-cen­tric and most­ly woman-made films avail­able this month. Some of the women involved include Nou­velle Vague auteur Agnès Var­da, direc­tor of Cléo from 5 to 7 and The Beach­es of Agnès; Susan Son­tag, the pro­lif­ic writer and sub­ject of Regard­ing Susan Son­tag; and Gre­ta Ger­wig, who went from respect­ed indie-cin­e­ma actress to even more respect­ed indie-cin­e­ma direc­tor with 2017’s Lady Bird.

If the trail­ers for these films in this post intrigue you, you can, of course, go right to Kanopy to watch them in full. First, though, you’ll want to pull out your local library card. “We stream thought­ful enter­tain­ment to your pre­ferred device with no fees and no com­mer­cials by part­ner­ing with pub­lic libraries and uni­ver­si­ties,” says Kanopy­’s about page, explain­ing that you need only “log in with your library mem­ber­ship and enjoy our diverse cat­a­log with new titles added every month.”

To check and see whether your library (or uni­ver­si­ty) is among Kanopy­’s part­ners, just type it into the search win­dow on this page.

After log­ging in you can explore the full breadth of Kanopy­’s list of Wom­en’s His­to­ry Month selec­tions, which also includes doc­u­men­taries like Won­der Women: The Untold Sto­ry of Amer­i­can Super­heroinesThe Girls in the Band: Female Jazz Musi­ciansWho Does She Think She Is?: A Por­trait of Female Artists, and Women of ’69: Unboxed: Women from the Six­ties Share their Sto­ries, as well as oth­er exam­i­na­tions of women in pol­i­tics, women in gam­ingwomen in STEM, and women in prison. Once you’ve seen them all, you might con­sid­er explor­ing Kanopy­’s oth­er cin­e­mat­ic offer­ings, from a vari­ety of oth­er doc­u­men­taries to dra­macom­e­dy, and even hor­ror and thriller as well as sci­ence fic­tion and fan­ta­sy.

That last sec­tion, one can’t help but notice, comes head­ed by Mark Saw­ers’ No Men Beyond This Point, which takes as its set­ting a world that has­n’t been able to pro­duce male babies for the past 60 years. Its main char­ac­ter is the last man alive. Kanopy describes it as “a wry mock­u­men­tary that asks the ques­tion, what would the world be like if women were in charge?” How­ev­er pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive an answer to that ques­tion just popped into your head, all these films will sure­ly give it a bit more nuance, and at no charge at that.

Kanopy­’s own list of five Wom­en’s His­to­ry Month films rec­om­mend­ed from each of their major col­lec­tion runs as fol­lows:

Films Direct­ed by Women
  1. Lady Bird — Direct­ed by Gre­ta Ger­wig and nom­i­nat­ed for five Oscars, this warm, affect­ing com­e­dy fol­lows a high school­er who must nav­i­gate a lov­ing, but tur­bu­lent rela­tion­ship with her strong-willed moth­er over the course of her event­ful and poignant senior year of high school.
  2. Cleo from 5 to 7 — Direc­tor Agnes Var­da elo­quent­ly cap­tures Paris in the ‘60s with this real-time por­trait of a singer (Corinne Marc­hand) set adrift as she awaits test results fol­low­ing a biop­sy.
  3. The Mise­d­u­ca­tion of Cameron Post — Direct­ed by Desiree Akha­van and Grand Jury Prize win­ner at the Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val, the film fol­lows Cameron when she’s sent to a gay con­ver­sion ther­a­py cen­ter after get­ting caught with anoth­er girl in the back­seat of a car.
  4. Amer­i­can Hon­ey — Nom­i­nat­ed for six Film Inde­pen­dent Spir­it Awards and win­ner of two Spe­cial Jury Prizes at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val, the film fol­lows an ado­les­cent girl from a trou­bled home who runs away with a trav­el­ing sales crew across the Amer­i­can Mid­west to sell sub­scrip­tions door-to-door.
  5. Made­line’s Made­line — From direc­tor Josephine Deck­er, the lines between per­for­mance and real­i­ty begin to blur when a young actress is pushed too far. An Offi­cial Selec­tion at the Berlin Inter­na­tion­al Fes­ti­val, Madeline’s Made­line stars Mol­ly Park­er (“Lost in Space”).
  1. Ani­ta — Against a back­drop of sex, pol­i­tics, and race, Ani­ta reveals the inti­mate sto­ry of a woman who spoke truth to pow­er.
  2. Killing Us Soft­ly (Four-Part Series) — Jean Kil­bourne takes a fresh look at how print and tele­vi­sion adver­tise­ments bare a stun­ning pat­tern of dam­ag­ing gen­der stereo­types, dis­tort­ing the ideals of fem­i­nin­i­ty over the decades.
  3. Women of ’69: Unboxed — An inti­mate, per­son­al­ized por­trait of women of the 1960s through the eyes of one col­or­ful class that grad­u­at­ed in 1969 and start­ed to explore the New Old Age.
  4. Polit­i­cal Ani­mals — This mul­ti-award win­ning film tells the sto­ry of the civ­il rights strug­gle of this cen­tu­ry — the gay rights move­ment — through the eyes of the first four mem­bers of the LGBT Leg­isla­tive Cau­cus.
  5. The Girls in the Band — An award-win­ning doc­u­men­tary film that tells the poignant, untold sto­ries of female jazz and big band instru­men­tal­ists and their fas­ci­nat­ing, his­to­ry-mak­ing jour­neys from the late ‘30s to present day.
Major Fig­ures
  1. Regard­ing Susan Son­tag — An inti­mate and nuanced inves­ti­ga­tion into the life of one of the most impor­tant lit­er­ary, polit­i­cal and fem­i­nist icons of the 20th cen­tu­ry, Susan Son­tag.
  2. Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise — The film traces Dr. Angelou’s incred­i­ble jour­ney, shed­ding light on the untold aspects of her life through nev­er-before-seen footage, rare archival pho­tographs and videos in her own words.
  3. Jane’s Jour­ney — A 2010 film that fol­lows Jane Goodall across sev­er­al con­ti­nents, from her child­hood home in Eng­land to the Gombe Nation­al Park in Tan­za­nia, where she began her ground­break­ing research and where she still returns every year to enjoy the com­pa­ny of chim­panzees.
  4. The Beach­es of Agnes — From direc­tor Agnes Var­da, this cin­e­mat­ic self-por­trait touch­es on every­thing from the fem­i­nist move­ment and the Black Pan­thers to the filmmaker’s hus­band Jacques Demy and the birth of the French New Wave.
  5. Mavis! — An award-win­ning doc­u­men­tary on gospel/soul music leg­end and civ­il rights icon, Mavis Sta­ples and her fam­i­ly group, The Sta­ple Singers.
Cur­rent Events
  1. Wom­en’s March — Shot on loca­tion in five U.S. cities in 2017, this is a sto­ry about democ­ra­cy, human rights and what it means to stand up for val­ues in today’s Amer­i­ca.
  2. I am a Girl — Nom­i­nat­ed for four Aus­tralian Acad­e­my Awards includ­ing Best Doc­u­men­tary and Best Direc­tor, this inspi­ra­tional fea­ture-length doc­u­men­tary fol­lows six girls from around the world, paint­ing a clear pic­ture of the real­i­ty of what it means to be a female in the 21st cen­tu­ry.
  3. Miss Rep­re­sen­ta­tion — Writ­ten and direct­ed by Jen­nifer Siebel New­som, this film expos­es how main­stream media con­tributes to the under-rep­re­sen­ta­tion of women in posi­tions of pow­er and influ­ence in Amer­i­ca.
  4. Star­less Dreams — A stark tes­ti­mo­ni­al of the pre­vi­ous­ly unseen and unheard, this award-win­ning doc­u­men­tary plunges into the lives of young teenage girls shar­ing tem­po­rary quar­ters at a reha­bil­i­ta­tion and cor­rec­tion cen­ter on the out­skirts of Tehran.
  5. Hooli­gan Spar­row — Mav­er­ick activist Ye Haiyan (a.k.a Hooli­gan Spar­row) and her band of col­leagues trav­el to Hainan Province in south­ern Chi­na to protest the case of six ele­men­tary school girls who were sex­u­al­ly abused by their prin­ci­pal.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Stream 48 Clas­sic & Con­tem­po­rary Ger­man Films Free Online: From Fritz Lang’s Metrop­o­lis to Mar­garethe von Trotta’s Han­nah Arendt

1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, etc.

An Ambi­tious List of 1400 Films Made by Female Film­mak­ers

Watch Four Dar­ing Films by Lois Weber, “the Most Impor­tant Female Direc­tor the Amer­i­can Film Indus­try Has Known” (1913–1921)

The First Fem­i­nist Film, Ger­maine Dulac’s The Smil­ing Madame Beudet (1922)

11 Essen­tial Fem­i­nist Books: A New Read­ing List by The New York Pub­lic Library

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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