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Women Directed Movies in 2011

Women Directed Movies in 2011

Yesterday, the Hollywood Reporter roundtable on directors made me crazy, but it also made me think.  While I will give them no leeway on the ridiculous comment asking the directors to name a major movie directed by a woman this past year, I thought it would be good to look at ALL the movies directed by women this year in order to get a decent assessment of where we are going on two years after Kathryn Bigelow won the best director award.

Looking back to last year both Winter’s Bone and The Kids Are All Right were a part of the year end discussion in a big way and both films nabbed Oscar nominations.  But neither Debra Granik nor Lisa Cholodenko were nominated for best director.

This year I feel we are in the same boat and quite frankly the strong films directed by women that could be in the awards mix are not generating a lot of buzz.

Things to note:

Only 2 women — Jennifer Yuh and Catherine Hardwicke made it into the top 100, and only two more Lone Scherfig and Larysa Kondracki made it into the top 200)

That’s 4 women directed films in the top 200 grossing films of the year.  (of course there are a few that haven’t still opened and one in particular Arthur Christmas seems poised to get into the top 100 if not top 50.)  Aside from box office grosses there are only 23 women on this list, and if you look at the films there are only a handful that made it out of NY and LA.  I am duly depressed.

Films directed by Women 2011 (please let me know if I missed any- these do not include any documentaries)

Kung Fu Panda 2 – Jennifer Yuh #12

Red Riding Hood- Catherine Hardwicke  #63

One Day – Lone Scherfig #107

The Whistleblower- Larysa Kondracki #174

Country Strong – Shana Feste (did Oscar qualifying run in 2010)

Queen to Play – Caroline Bottaro

The Beaver- Jodie Foster

In a Better World- Susanne Bier (won the Oscar for best foreign language film)

Meek’s Cutoff- Kelly Reichardt

The Future – Miranda July

Higher Ground – Vera Farmiga

The Hedgehog – Mona Achache

Circumstance – Maryam Keshavarz

Dhobi Ghat – Kiran Rao

Goodbe First Love – Mia Hansen Love

Last Night- Massy Tadjedin

The Puzzle –  Natalia Smirnoff

Texas Killing Fields – Ami Canaan Mann

The Tree- Julie Bertucelli

A Bird of the Air – Margaret Whitton

Tanner Hall – Tatiana von Furstenberg and Francesca Gregorini

I Will Follow – Ava Duvernay

Tomboy – Celine Sciamma

Arthur Christmas- Sarah Smith

We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lynne Ramsay

In the Land of Blood and Honey- Angelina Jolie

The Iron Lady- Phyllida Lloyd

Pariah- Dee Rees

Sleeping Beauty- Catherine Breillat

Sleeping Beauty- Julia Leigh

WE- Madonna

The Imperialists Are Still Alive- Zeina Durra

Desert Flower- Sherry Hormann

Cracks- Jordan Scott

When We Leave- Feo Aladag

(data from and box office mojo)

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Hysteria, by Tanya Wexler.


The Power of Three…. first film EVER that stars, was written by, produced by and directed by women over the age of 50.


"Return" by Liza Johnson – premiered at Cannes this year.


Last Night– Massy Tadjedin and Texas Killing Field- Amy Mann


Watch for The Wine of Summer, written, directed & produced by Maria Matteoli, funded entirely by women investors, and starring a great ensemble of amazing actresses including Sonia Braga, Elsa Pataky, Najwa Nimri and Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden… Coming in 2012…


The Arbor, Cleo Bernard
Sleeping Beauty Catherine Briellet

Why not docs?


It's also sad how bad those movies were.


Yes, it is positive that the needle has moved from 7 to 10 per cent. However, we cannot be complacent. We need to keep up the activism.

BTW, Meryl Streep has played Julia Child and now, she is playing Margaret Thatcher. We ought to encourage her to play Gloria Steinem in her new film. It's time for Meryl to play a famous feminist.

Carrie Rickey

While 26 features out of 250 might strike some as shocking, for the past ten years the number of woman-directed featured has been between 7 and 8 per cent. That the needle has moved to 10 per cent is a positive sign.


W.E. by madonna had it's qualifying run in December

Dana Kephart

I am the father of a Canadian woman director and, having watched my daughter struggle to get opportunities and recognition, sympathize with the "celluloid ceiling" women face in the film world. This is just as true in Canada as the US, and I suspect for the same reasons…. I won't go into that. I have become very aware, watching my daughter struggle, that the Ole Boyz are blind. I think what I realize is that the Ole Boyz seem to lack the subtley that women (at least my daughter) bring to a project. So, I hope this blog and others I have perused will continue to be a "call to arms" to get the 51% artistic film voices their rightful representation…. We are missing out on too much.

Louise Ford

THE LONELIEST PLANET, written and directed by Julia Loktev. Played at festivals this year at Locarno, Toronto, New York, London, Mexico. Won the Grand Jury prize at AFI Fest. Picked up by IFC/Sundance Selects, slated to open in NY next Spring (so maybe this counts as 2012…)


melissa, what about Ami Caanan Mann and 'Texas Killing Fields'? Or was that an indie?


From Argentina, "The Puzzle," by Natalia Smirnoff.


Since you didn't include documentaries made by women this past year (as you noted), I will. There were many, but the strongest ones I saw in 2011 were Better This World (Kelly Duane de la Vega & Katie Galloway), Between Two Worlds (Deborah Kaufman), Bobby Fischer Against the World (Liz Garbus), Magic Trip (Alison Ellwood), The Tiniest Place (Tatiana Huezo), The Welcome (Kim Shelton).


The changes in BP voting this year will make it harder for the small, intimate dramas that most women directors favor to get nominated but the films that have yet to open include some possible contenders so we'll just have to wait and see.


From Greece: "Attenberg" directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari

From France: "Goodbye First Love" by Mia Hansen-Løve


Well, I would consider Arthur Christmas, Kung Fu Panda 2, and The Iron Lady major pictures. So the THR reporter is ill-informed.

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