Fall 2018: Female Directors

Unlike this summer, female representation behind the camera is being overshadowed this fall by the Ruben Fleischers, Damien Chazelles, and Bryan Singers. While you can’t expect many women-helmed movies at your local theatre, they’ll be making lots of noise on the festival circuit. Along with a description of the theatrical releases to look out for, this piece compiles a list of the female-directed feature films screening at major film festivals. Listing every film at every fall festival would make for an article as long as Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander, so we trust our readers will be on the lookout for women filmmakers at their local festivals, as well as documentary and short films directed by women. All film descriptions are from press materials and all theatrical release dates are for the United States. 

Theatrical releases:

September 21 – NAPPILY EVER AFTER dir. Haifaa Al-Mansour


Violet has it all: the perfect job, the perfect relationship and the perfect hair. Until an accident at her hair salon makes her realize she’s not living life to the fullest. This romantic comedy, starring Sanaa Lathan, is based on the novel of the same name by Trisha R. Thomas

September 28 – LITTLE WOMEN dir. Clare Niederpruem 


A modern retelling of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel follows the lives of the same sisters we know so well — Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March — and detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood. Despite harsh times, they cling to optimism, and as they mature, they face blossoming ambitions, relationships, and tragedy, while maintaining their unbreakable bond.

October 12 – THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER dir. Sara Colangelo

The Kindergarten Teacher - Still 1

Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Kindergarten Teacher is a remake of an Israeli film of the same name. This drama follows a teacher who becomes obsessed with one of her students as she goes to unreasonable lengths to protect his talent. The film will also be screening at TIFF.

October 19 – CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? dir. Marielle Heller


Celebrity biographer Lee Israel, played by Melissa McCarthy, makes her living profiling the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estee Lauder and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. When Lee is no longer able to get published, she turns her art form into deception. Based on the true story and memoir of the same name by Lee Israel. The film will also be screening at BFI and TIFF.

October 19 – GALVESTON dir. Mélanie Laurent


After a violent encounter with his boss’ men, Roy (Ben Foster) finds a prostitute and sees something in her frightened, defiant eyes that prompts a fateful decision. He takes her with him as he flees to Galveston, an action as ill-advised as it is inescapable. The film also stars Elle Fanning and Lili Reinhart and is screening at TIFF and the LA Film Festival.

October 19 – WHAT THEY HAD dir. Elizabeth Chomko

What They Had - Still 1

When her Alzheimer’s-suffering mother, Ruth (Blythe Danner), wanders into a blizzard on Christmas Eve, Bridget Ertz (Hilary Swank) travels back to her hometown to help her brother convince their father to put Ruth in a nursing home and face the end of their life-long love affair. The film will also be screening at TIFF.

December 7 – MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS dir. Josie Rourke 


Starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots follows the titular character in her attempt to overthrown her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, which ultimately leads to her own downfall.

Venice International Film Festival (August 29-September 8)

Soudade Kaadan’s ‘The Day I Lost My Shadow’
  • ARRIVEDERCI SAIGON dir. Wilma Labate
  • CHARLIE SAYS dir. Mary Harron
  • DESLEMBRO dir. Flavia Castro
  • L’ENKAS dir. Sarah Marx
  • LES ESTIVANTS dir. Valeria Bruni Tedeschi 
  • THE DAY I LOST MY SHADOW dir. Soudade Kaadan
  • THE MAN WHO SURPRISED EVERYONE dir. Natasha Merkulova, Aleksey Chupov
  • THE NIGHTINGALE dir. Jennifer Kent

Toronto International Film Festival (September 6-16)

Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger in Annabel Jankel’s ‘Tell It to the Bees’
  • A MILLION LITTLE PIECES dir. Sam Taylor-Johnson
  • ANIARA dir. Pella Kågerman, Hugo Lilja
  • BIRDS OF PASSAGE dir. Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra
  • THE BLACK BOOK dir. Valeria Sarmiento
  • BLIND SPOT dir. Tuva Novotny
  • BULBUL CAN SING dir. Rima Das
  • CAPERNAUM dir. Nadine Labaki
  • THE CHAMBERMAID dir. Lila Avilés
  • CORE OF THE WORLD dir. Natalia Meshchaninova
  • THE CROSSING dir. Xue Bai
  • THE DAY I LOST MY SHADOW dir. Soudade Kaadan
  • DESTROYER dir. Karyn Kusama
  • EDGE OF THE KNIFE dir. Gwaai Edenshaw, Helen Haig-Brown
  • EMU RUNNER dir. Imogen Thomas
  • ENDZEIT – EVER AFTER dir. Carolina Hellsgård
  • FALLS AROUND HER dir. Darlene Naponse
  • FIG TREE dir. Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian
  • FIRECRACKERS dir. Jasmin Mozaffari
  • FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY dir. Carmel Winters
  • GIRLS OF THE SUN dir. Eva Husson
  • THE GOOD GIRLS dir. Alejandra Márquez Abella
  • THE GRIZZLIES dir. Miranda de Pencier
  • HIGH LIFE dir. Claire Denis
  • JESSICA FOREVER dir. Caroline Poggi, Jonathan Vinel
  • THE LAND OF STEADY HABITS dir. Nicole Holofcener
  • THE LIE dir. Veena Sud
  • LIGHT AS FEATHERS dir. Rosanne Pel
  • LIONHEART dir. Genevieve Nnaji
  • MANTO dir. Nandita Das
  • MAYA dir. Mia Hansen-Løve
  • MOUTHPIECE dir. Patricia Rozema
  • OUR BODY dir. Ka-ram Han
  • OUT OF BLUE dir. Carol Morley
  • PARADE dir. Nino Zhvania
  • PHOENIX dir. Camilla Strøm Henriksen
  • RAFIKI dir. Wanuri Kahiu
  • RETROSPEKT dir. Esther Rots
  • ROADS IN FEBRUARY dir. Katherine Jerkovic
  • SIBEL dir. Çagla Zencirci, Guillaume Giovanetti
  • STUPID YOUNG HEART dir. Selma Vilhunen
  • SUMMER SURVIVORS dir. Marija Kavtaradze
  • THE SWEET REQUIEM dir. Ritu Sarin, Tenzing Sonam
  • TELL IT TO THE BEES dir. Annabel Jankel
  • THAT TIME OF YEAR dir. Paprika Steen
  • TOO LATE TO DIE YOUNG dir. Dominga Sotomayor
  • TOUCH ME NOT dir. Adina Pintilie
  • THE THIRD WIFE dir. Ash Mayfair
  • TWIN FLOWER dir. Laura Luchetti
  • VIPER CLUB dir. Maryam Keshavarz
  • VISION dir. Naomi Kawase
  • VITA & VIRGINIA dir. Chanya Button
  • THE WEEKEND dir. Stella Meghie
  • WHERE HANDS TOUCH dir. Amma Asante
  • THE WIND dir. Emma Tammi
  • WORKING WOMAN dir. Michal Aviad

LA Film Festival (September 20-28)

Lily James and Tessa Thompson in Nia DaCosta’s ‘Little Woods’
  • 40 AND SINGLE dir. Leila Djansi
  • ALL ABOUT NINA dir. Eva Vives
  • THE COTTON WOOL WAR dir. Marilia Hughes, Cláudio Marques
  • THE DAY I LOST MY SHADOW dir. Soudade Kaadan
  • GOOD GIRLS GET HIGH dir. Laura Terruso
  • HEAD COUNT dir. Elizabeth Callahan 
  • IN REALITY dir. Ann Lupo 
  • LITTLE WOODS dir. Nia DaCosta
  • MICROHABIT dir. Jeon Go-Woon
  • THE NEW ROMANTIC dir. Carly Stone
  • SADIE dir. Megan Griffiths 
  • SIMPLE WEDDING dir. Sara Zandieh
  • SOLACE dir. Tchaiko Omawale 
  • TOWER. A BRIGHT DAY. dir. Jagoda Szelc
  • UNLOVABLE dir. Suzi Yoonessi
  • WE THE COYOTES dir. Hanna Ladoul, Marco La Via 
  • YOU CAN CHOOSE YOUR FAMILY dir. Miranda Bailey

New York Film Festival (September 28-October 14)

Adriano Tardiolo in Alice Rohrwacher’s ‘Lazzaro Felice’
  • HIGH LIFE dir. Claire Denis 
  • LAZZARO FELICE dir. Alice Rohrwacher
  • PRIVATE LIFE dir. Tamara Jenkins
  • TOO LATE TO DIE YOUNG dir. Dominga Sotomayor

BFI London Film Festival (Oct 10-21)

Nicole Kidman in Karyn Kusama’s ‘Destroyer’
  • BEEN SO LONG dir. Tinge Krishnan
  • BIRDS OF PASSAGE dir. Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra
  • CAPERNAUM dir. Nadine Labaki 
  • THE CHAMBERMAID dir. Lila Avilés
  • THE DAY I LOST MY SHADOW dir. Soudade Kaadan
  • DEAD PIGS dir. Cathy Yan
  • DESTROYER dir. Karyn Kusama
  • HOLIDAY dir. Isabella Eklöf
  • JOURNEY TO A MOTHER’S ROOM dir. Celia Rico Clavellino
  • JOY dir. Sudabeh Mortezai
  • LAZZARO FELICE dir. Alice Rohrwacher
  • MAKE ME UP dir. Rachel Maclean
  • OUT OF BLUE dir. Carol Morley
  • RAFIKI dir. Wanuri Kahiu
  • TOO LATE TO DIE YOUNG dir. Dominga Sotomayor

Check out the festivals below that are solely dedicated to showing films by women:

Featured Image from Birds of Passage.

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