As an aspiring director and lover of movies, I'm often asked who my favorite directors are, or what are my top ten movies of all time etc. Several years back when I was asked such a question, it dawned on me that when I attempted to answer I never mentioned a director who’s a woman. Even worse, I realized I hadn't actually seen many films directed by women, though I’d taken a film history course in college and had been watching hundreds and hundreds of films recommended by trusted sources. So I set out to find female filmmakers that I had been neglecting. Not surprising, I found some of the greatest directors in the world, who happen to be women. Below are my top three.
Born to an aristocratic family in Italy, she grew up to be incredibly smart, and at one point was an assistant director for the great Federico Fellini before becoming an accomplished director herself. When she writes screenplays she hammers them out in as little as a week or two because writing is no struggle for her. Her films are poignant, hilarious, intellectual, political, grotesque, garish, while maintaining beautiful frame composition. My favorites are:
Jane is a truly brilliant creative mind who hails from New Zealand, now living in Australia. Her film, Peel, won best short at Cannes in 1982, which she made in film school and it’s my favorite short film of all time. I even think she's one of the best filmmakers ever, past and present. Her stories are so original, genuine, and chock full of amazing imagery. See all of her films, except well, In the Cut. Nobody’s perfect.
Ramsay is responsible for directing and writing a film that I added to my personal “list of movies that get my gut,” which means it's deep, very deep. Anytime I think about the main character, a young boy named James, in Ratcatcher, I have a physical reaction that feels as if there’s suddenly a void under my diaphragm, and tears start to well up until I remind myself to stop thinking about it. It’s not because of the tough things that happen to him that get to me the most, it’s because of the juxtaposition of seeing him in his happiest most hopeful times. I’m not going to lie this movie is bleak, but it’s also profound. Please see this movie so we can talk about it! The opening images in both Ratcatcher and We Need to Talk About Kevin are some of the most visually striking ones I’ve ever seen.
More directors whose work you should watch if you haven’t already: Claire Denis, Barbara Kopple, Mira Nair, Ida Lupino, Agnes Varda and the list goes on!!! But don’t watch them just because they’re women, because that would make them mad. They’re filmmakers who are awesome, but unfortunately so often overlooked because they’re women.