March is women’s history month, and there’s no better way to celebrate women in film than highlighting some of the very best feminist films. As Terry discussed on Friday, films with women do better at the box office, and often provide a better return on investment, so we should not only be celebrating female-driven films, but promoting and financing them.
There’s a constant conversation about the need for more diversity in the industry, but the true impact of that sentiment can’t be fully felt until you consider some of the more sobering statistics about female filmmakers. Julie Dash’s 1991 film Daughters of the Dust marked the first time a film directed by a woman of color received theatrical distribution – that’s only 24 years ago!
According to the most recent WGA-W report, female TV writers are outstaffed 2 to 1 by male TV writers. Women account for only 15% of all film screenwriters, and earn 77 cents to the dollar when compared to their male counterparts. Yeah…there’s a major issue happening here.
As a woman who went to film school and was often the lone lady in classrooms full of dudes, I didn’t need these stats to cement what I already knew about the film industry’s gender gap, but they certainly make for great back-up whenever some doofus on social media says “there’s no diversity problem in film!”
I started putting this list together as a way to remind myself of which feminist films I still needed to see, but it quickly blossomed into an overall list of feminist films. So what exactly makes a feminist film? Each film on the list meets at least one of the following criteria:
- Has a female director;
- Has a female screenwriter;
- Has a female lead;
- Features strong pro-woman themes.
Inevitably, I’ve missed some films for this list, and I’d love to open it up to suggestions from you, dear Black List blog readers. Please send us some additions – I’d love to grow this list, and make it a comprehensive database for female-driven films.
I did consciously avoid “big” movies like The Hunger Games, because quite frankly, I think everyone is already aware of the cultural (and financial) impact that these mega-franchises led by young women have had. There will also likely be debate about some of the titles included on the list (American Psycho was written and directed by women; Stagecoach passes the Bedchel Test in the first ten minutes) which we welcome – please, disagree with us!
It is absolutely vital that we encourage, support, and celebrate diverse female filmmakers and actors. Representation matters, and the more diverse we can make films, the more viewers we can help participate in this shared experience of film we all love so much. Feminism is about inclusion, not exclusion – male filmmakers can and do still make feminist films just as women can direct great films about the male experience. The more we can include all women – women of color, LGBTQ women, disabled women, fat women, older women, etc. – in the world of film, the richer we’ll all be for it.
Without further adieu, here’s the list!
Special thanks to Carl Garcia for helping me fill out the last 25 or so titles on the list, and for his extensive knowledge of international cinema.