2017 was a year full of the celebration of female filmmakers. Patty Jenkins brought Wonder Woman to the big screen and proved to those still in doubt that women can make blockbusters! (Wow, can you believe?!) Dee Rees‘ Mudbound and Greta Gerwig‘s Lady Bird were nominated for Academy Awards! So to celebrate female filmmakers and Women’s History Month we’ll share with you some films that were directed by women that you might’ve missed. To not overwhelm you with all these great films, we’ll share them throughout the month! In honour of International Women’s Day, here is the first piece, we hope you enjoy and watch them all!
Most Beautiful Island, directed by Ana Asensio
Spanish actress Ana Asensio‘s directorial debut Most Beautiful Island tells the story of an undocumented woman trying to survive in NYC. The film stars Asensio herself as the lead character Luciana. The winner of SXSW Film Festival’s Grand Jury Award, this powerful debut may tell the journey of Luciana, but with its opening, Asensio establishes that Luciana’s specific experience is universal, and it could belong to any woman that the camera follows on the streets of New York.
The Party, directed by Sally Potter
Take Sartre’s No Exit, turn it into a dark comedy, make it directed by Sally Potter and you got yourself The Party! With its incredible cast, from Kristin Scott Thomas to Timoty Spall, Patricia Clarkson to Emily Mortimer, Cherry Jones to Cillian Murphy– oh my I got excited just typing those names! This wonderful black and white comedy is filled with twists and turns that will make you glad that you’re not invited to this party.
Beach Rats, directed by Eliza Hittman
Eliza Hittman‘s second feature Beach Rats tells the story of Frankie, a teenager in the closet, as he spends his days using drugs and trying to meet older men on online platforms. Hittman won the Directing Award at Sundance for her work, while the lead Harris Dickinson won Young Performer of the Year at London Critics Circle. The film’s portrayal of a young man struggling with his sexual identity is balanced, without judgement for his actions and a recognition of the difficulties one experiences in the face of fear of exposition.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, directed by Angela Robinson
When I say Wonder Woman, you say polygamy and BDSM! While everyone was busy celebrating the success of Wonder Woman, another film celebrating the comics and the story of its origins came out. Angela Robinson‘s Professor Marston and the Wonder Women tells the story of psychologist William Marston (Luke Evans) and his polygamous relationship with his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) and their mistress Olive (Bella Heathcote), which inspired him to write Wonder Woman comics. The film has stellar performances, gorgeous visuals, depicts polygamy in a healthy light we don’t get to see often and is erotic without being exploitative. A great success for queer cinema and origin stories!
I Am Not A Witch, directed by Rungano Nyoni
Nominated at Cannes for the Golden Camera and the winner of Outstanding Debut at the BAFTAs, Rungano Nyoni‘s I Am Not A Witch tells the story of 8 year old Shula who is accused of witchcraft and is taken into state custody after she’s found guilty. This wonderful social satire takes you from “Should I feel guilty for laughing?” with its dark comedy, to “Oh god no!” with worry, and the lead Benfors ‘Wee Do is one of the child actresses to look out for in the future.
Maudie, directed by Aisling Walsh
Sally Hawkins spent the past year in the spotlight with the success of The Shape of Water, but it wasn’t the only film she gave an Oscar worthy performance in. Directed by Irish director Aisling Walsh, Maudie tells the story of Canadian artist with juvenile arthritis Maud Lewis as she struggles to make a life for herself and paint despite her disability and her abusive husband Everett, played by Ethan Hawke. Maudie succeeds by not sugarcoating Maud’s struggles and not romanticising her relationship with Everett. The film successfully brings Maud’s heartwarming personality to screen with honesty without exploting tragic aspects of her life.
Part 2 & 3 of this list will be published on upcoming fridays in March.