Mar 262012


Sometimes the movies can feel like a boys club. Not only are most of the lead characters in movies male, but the vast majority of film directors are too. Fear not! there are plenty of great women making amazing movies. After the jump read about five of our favourite [active] female directors.

As it was hard to narrow it down to just five, we have picked directors that have at least two works which we have seen and can recommend. Below we’ve listed the works which we have seen and have said a little about each director. Hopefully, you won’t know all of these directors and might be inspired to seek out some of their work.

Jane Campion


An Angel at My Table (1990)

The Piano (1993)

Holy Smoke (1999)

Bright Star (2009)

Jane Campion is a New Zealand director and screenwriter who is only the second woman ever to be nominated for an Academy Award for best director (for The Piano). As well as several feature films, Campion has also directed some fantastic short films which are worth seeking out. Campion tends to choose polarising subjects for her films – her protagonists are often female characters dealing with some sort crisis – both in their lives, and often in their minds too.

Lisa Cholodenko


High Art (1998)

The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Lisa Cholodenko is an American director who is best known for The Kids Are All Right, which won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture. The film was inspired by Cholodenko’s own experiences as a lesbian parent with a child conceived via sperm donation. As well as feature films, Cholodenko also works on short films and TV series.

Sofia Coppola


The Virgin Suicides (1999)

Lost in Translation (2003)

Marie Antoinette (2006)

Somewhere (2010)

Sofia Coppola is an American director, screen writer, producer, and actress who is probably best known for the 2003 film Lost in Translation, and for being the daughter of the legendary Francis Ford Coppola. She won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Lost in Translation, and was the third woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director. In 2010 she won the Golden Lion for the film Somewhere. Coppola’s films always have very well-rounded characters that have their own unique voices. Music also plays a very important part in her films. She is currently working on The Bling Ring, a film based on the recent series of celebrity robberies which were committed by a group of social media-savvy teens.

Mira Nair


Salaam Bombay! (1988)

Monsoon Wedding (2001)

Vanity Fair (2004)

New York, I love you (Segement ‘Mira Nair’) (2009)

Mira Nair is an Indian director and producer who is probably best known for her 2001 film Monsoon Wedding. Her 1988 film Salaam Bombay! was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. While Nair is based in New York, she hasn’t forgotten her Indian roots, and her films are often about Indian culture or involve Indian characters. She is highly regarded in her home country, and was recently awarded the third-highest civilian award by the President of India. Nair is currently working on two films – The Reluctant Fundamentalist is about a young Pakistani Wall Street worker who is deeply affected by the 9/11 attacks; and a segment in the film Words with Gods, which is a film composed of short films about the 10 major world religions.

Lone Scherfig


Italian for Beginners (2000)

 Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself (2002)

An Education (2009)

Lone Scherfig is a Danish director and writer who is best known for her 2009 film An Education. Her 2000 film Italian for Beginners won the Silver Berlin Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, and it is still the most profitable Scandinavian film of all time. Her films are known for highlighting the subtle details in relationships; and she doesn’t shy away from having her characters experience heart-ache and pain. Scherfig has a love of Britain and British actors/actresses, and hopes to set more films there in the future.

The best of the rest

These woman are all incredibly talented directors. Unfortunately we have only seen and/or really liked one of their films (t0 date), and therefore they couldn’t be included on our list of five. I think we’ll have to work on that! The title in brackets is the film we’ve really enjoyed from the director.


Lynne Ramsey (Morvern Callar), Nancy Meyers (It’s Complicated), Amy Heckerling (Clueless), Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry), Norah Ephron (Julie & Julia), Valerie Feris (Little Miss Sunshine), Tamara Jenkins (The Savages), Susanne Bier (In a Better World).

There are bound to be many many we’ve missed. Please tell us who we’ve missed and let us know your favourites in the comments!


  8 Responses to “Five Fantastic Female Film-makers”

  1. i totally agree with mira nair….the rest i don’t feel as impressed with. but i did like lisa’s the kids are all right, and sofia’s lost in translation.

  2. Kathryn Bigelow
    the Hurt Locker is an absolute masterpiece!
    Don’t know any of her other movies, except Point Break a while ago, which I remember to be quite kick-ass. Not quite typical woman perspective movies though.

  3. Kelly Reichardt is one of my favourite directors with Wendy and Lucy, Meeks Cutoff and Old Joy all among my top movies of all time.

    • I have to admit that I’ve only seen one of her films (Meek’s Cutoff) and I didn’t like it at all. What would you recommend I watch?

      • WENDY AND LUCY is a great study of some of the struggles of modern-day America. Michelle Williams is fantastic and it’s a the premiere example of independent American cinema (IMO).

        OLD JOY is super chilled. A nice story about friends reconnecting and what happens when one moves on and matures faster than the other.

        MEEK’S CUTOFF is in some ways really different (set in olden times) and really similar (measured storytelling) to WENDY AND LUCY and OLD JOY. I just really like Reichardt’s vision and the way she tells stories.

  4. I bought a MORVERN CALLAR dvd for cheap, and it’s been sitting on my shelf for a while in ‘must watch at some point’ zone. I shall make a point of viewing it this easter.

    In the ‘one film’ category for me would be WINTER’S BONE director Debra Granik. (She has one other feature, which I haven’t seen.)

    • I saw ‘Morvern Callar’ at the Wellington Film Society and it was just fantastic. It’s very much worth your time. ‘Winter’s Bone’ is an amazing film – it’s the only one I’ve seen from that director also.

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