A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with a self-confessed film buff which went like this:
Me: “Name me 3 black women film directors”.
Random Dude: “I can’t name 1 woman film director”
Me: *sighs* Although it was a bar at about 1am so probably *swears* is more accurate.
You can apparently be a film fan these days without being aware that 50% of the population is capable of making films! Not only that, but Kathryn Bigelow is now the proud owner of a directorial Oscar with an impressive decades-spanning body of work including that icon of testosterone filled fun – Point Break and he struggled to remember who she was.
Also someone wrote this yesterday (weird given I started this post last week – or timely becuase it never stops being true) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/10213977/Where-are-all-the-women-directors.html#disqus_thread.
So here are a few unmissiable non-rom-com (I love chick flicks but I’m trying to promote a women can do drama theme here) films by women directors you may not have heard of, but who you will follow avidly from the day you watch them. Or at least be able to reference them in a conversation about film.
A Way of Life – directed by Amma Asante
Here’s the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xf-fENIf0kk
Long before it was common for TV actors to turn director Grange Hill alum Amma Asante made a heartbreakingly haunting film about the struggles of a teenage mother living in Cardiff stuck in a cycle of violence and poverty and butting with her neighbours at every turn. As gritty as Shane Meadows or Paddy Considine at their best, Asante won the prestigious BAFTA Carl Foreman award for a debut feature and her second feature Belle is due for release this year, which I am very exited about.
After The Wedding – directed by Susanne Bier
Here’s the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lKCRdGXCeM
Nerd fact – Susanne Bier’s films have been nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar twice and winning on the second occasion – a record equal to Pedro Almodovar. Even with more English language films under her belt she still doesn’t have the same level of notoriety which is a shame because her films are compelling viewing. After The Wedding follows a charity worker, played by the eminently watchable Mads Mikleson, who is forced to attend the wedding of a potential donor’s daughter and confront some demons from his past.
Sugar – co-directed by Anna Boden
Here’s the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwnxzkutQ3k
Another film she co-directed with Ryan Fleck? Half Nelson which gave Ryan Gosling his first Oscar nomination and helped his career no end. For that alone we should thank her. But whilst Half Nelson is excellent, I recommend you also hunt out this gem about an immigrant rookie baseball player trying to make a name for himself in the US and support his family.
Talk To Me – directed by Kasi Lemmons
Here’s the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzvLkuJbTFk
Another of Lemmon’s films Eve’s Bayou is a bit hard going, but this biopic of a controversial radio DJ played by Don Cheadle is set against the backdrop of US civil Rights is primarily light hearted, but still a comprehensive portrait of racially tense 60s Washington DC. This year is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream”speech and you can do a lot worse than watching this film to add a little context.
Pariah – directed by Dee Rees
Here’s the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbBiTlGhrPY
OK confession – I haven’t watched this but I am going to import the dvd as soon as I can.
Another directorial debut, it tells the story of a young woman discovering her burgeoning homosexuality and her tentative fraught steps into adulthood facing conflict from her family.
Ok one rom-com, an unconventional one.
Good Dick – directed by Marianna Palka
Here’s the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIA86cCEpJo
Boy meets Girl and they bond very slowly over her interest in porn. Watch the trailer it’s more charming than it sounds!
Winter’s Bone by Debra Granik – this woman launched Jennifer Lawrence. Enough said.
If you want to read more about women filmmakers, I highly recommend following the excellent Women and Hollywood blog and Birds Eye View Festival. They especially highlight films by women coming out so you can support them in the cinema where it counts to studio heads!