Back to IndieWire

84 Films By and About Women of Color, Courtesy of Ava DuVernay and the Good People of Twitter

84 Films By and About Women of Color, Courtesy of Ava DuVernay and the Good People of Twitter

If you were on Twitter recently, you might have seen
director Ava DuVernay’s clever call to social media to name films with “black,
brown, native or Asian women leads” which were also directed by women.

Though it seems like common sense that these films exist,
the question proved to be a serious challenge for Twitter, with many listing
the same handful of titles.

The clear point is that there are too few films that fit the
above criteria, and that those of us claiming to support diversity in
entertainment should do our part to change that. All of this helps bolster the
case for DuVernay’s AFFRM + Array
, which distributes black films and is in the midst of an annual
membership drive.

With efforts like AFFRM, the ACLU’s
push for an investigation into Hollywood’s hiring practices
and other recent
initiatives for the inclusion of women and diverse voices in film, change
appears to be on the horizon.

In the meantime, here’s a list of the films that Twitter
came up with starring women of color and helmed by women directors. When
cross-referenced with data sources from The Black
, Shadow
& Act
and others, there were about 85 titles that fit the bill.

Find them below. Watch, enjoy and most importantly, support! 

“35 Shots of Rum” by
Claire Denis (2008)

“A Different Image” by
Alile Sharon Larkin (1982)

“A Girl Walks Home Alone at
Night” by Ana Lily Amirpour (2014)

“Advantageous” by
Jennifer Phang (2015)

“Ala Modalaindi” by
Nandini Bv Reddy (2011)

“All About You” by
Christine Swanson (2001)

“Alma’s Rainbow” by
Ayoka Chenzira (1994)

“Appropriate Behavior”
by Desiree Akhavan (2014)

“B For Boy” by Chika
Anadu (2013)

“Bande de Filles/Girlhood”
by Céline Sciamma (2014)

“Belle” by Amma Asante

“Bend it Like Beckham”
by Gurinder Chadha (2002)

“Bessie” by Dee Rees

“Beyond the Lights” by
Gina Prince-Bythewood (2014)

“Bhaji on the Beach” by
Gurinder Chadha (1993)

“Caramel” by Nadine
Labaki  (2007)

“Circumstance” by Maryam
Keshavarz (2011)

“Civil Brand” by Neema
Barnette (2002)

“Compensation” by
Zeinabu irene Davis (1999)

“Daughters of the Dust”
by Julie Dash (1991)

“Double Happiness ” by
Mina Shum (1994)

“Down in the Delta” by Maya
Angelou (1998)

“Drylongso” by Cauleen
Smith (1988)

“Earth” by Deepa Mehta

“Elza” by Mariette
Monpierre (2011)

“Endless Dreams” by
Susan Youssef (2009

“Eve’s Bayou” by Kasi
Lemmons (1997)

“Fire” by Deepa Mehta

“Frida” by Julie Taymor

“Girl in Progress” by
Patricia Riggen (2012)

“Girlfight” by Karyn
Kusama (2000)

“Habibi Rasak Kharban”
by Susan Youssef (2011)

“Hiss Dokhtarha Faryad
Nemizanand (Hush! Girls Don’t Scream)” by Pouran Derahkandeh (2013)

“Honeytrap” by Rebecca
Johnson (2014)

“I Like It Like That” by
Darnell Martin (1994)

“I Will Follow” by Ava
DuVernay (2010

“In Between Days” by
So-yong Kim (2006)

“Introducing Dorothy
Dandridge” by Martha Coolidge (1999)

“It’s a Wonderful
Afterlife” by Gurinder Chadha (2010)

“Jumpin Jack Flash” by
Penny Marshall (1986)

“Just Another Girl on the
IRT” by Leslie Harris (1992)

“Just Wright” by Sanaa
Hamri (2010)

“Kama Sutra” by Mira
Nair (1996)

“Losing Ground” by
Kathleen Collins (1982)

“Love & Basketball”
by Gina Prince-Bythewood (2000)

“Luck by Chance” by Zoya
Akhtar (2009)

“Mi Vida Loca” by
Allison Anders (1993)

“Middle of Nowhere” by
Ava DuVernay (2012)

“Mississippi Damned” by
Tina Mabry (2009)

“Mississippi Masala” by
Mira Nair (1991)

“Mixing Nia” by Alison
Swan (1998)

“Monsoon Wedding” by Mira
Nair (2001)

“Mosquita y Mari” by
Aurora Guerrero (2012)

“Na-moo-eobs-neun san
(Treeless Mountain)” by So-yong Kim (2008)

“Night Catches Us” by
Tanya Hamilton (2010)

“Pariah” by Dee Rees

“Picture Bride” by Kayo
Hatta (1994)

“Rain” by Maria Govan (2008)

“Real Women Have Curves”
by Patricia Cardoso (2002)

“Saving Face” by Alice
Wu (2004)

“Second Coming” by
Debbie Tucker Green (2014)

“Something Necessary” by
Judy Kibinge (2013)

“Something New” by Sanaa
Hamri (2006)

“Still the Water” by
Naomi Kawase  (2014)

“Stranger Inside” by
Cheryl Dunye (2001)

“Sugar Cane Alley/Black Shack
Alley” by Euzhan Palcy (1983)

“The Kite” by Randa
Chahal Sabag (2003)

“The Rich Man’s Wife” by
Amy Holden Jones (1996)

“The Secret Life of
Bees” by Gina Prince-Bythewood (2008)

“The Silence of the
Palace” by Moufida Tlatli (1994)

“The Watermelon Woman”
by Cheryl Dunye (1996)

“The Women of Brewster
Place” by Donna Deitch (1989)

“Their Eyes Were Watching
God” by Darnell Martin (2005)

“Things We Lost in the
Fire” by Susanne Bier  (2007)

“Wadjda” by Haifaa
Al-Mansour (2012)

“Water” by Deepa Mehta

“Whale Rider” by Niki
Caro  (2002)

“What’s Cooking?” by
Gurinder Chadha (2000)

“Where Do We Go Now?” by
Nadine Labaki  (2011)

“Whitney” by Angela Bassett

“Woman Thou Art Loosed: On
The 7th Day” by Neema Barnette (2012)

“Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down
Girl” by Joan Chen (1998)

“Yelling to the Sky” by
Victoria Mahoney (2011)

“Young and Wild” by
Marialy Rivas (2012)

What are your favorite films that tell the stories of women of color, which are also directed by women?

jai tiggett is a
writer, content creator and curator. Find her at 

This Article is related to: Features and tagged , ,



Whale Rider

Hope Dickson Leach

And Dukhtar – by Afia Nathaniel – another great film

Hope Dickson Leach

LIFT starring Kerry Washington co-directed by DeMane Davis. Fantastic film, fantastic filmmakers.

J. Lists

We also need a list of important short films/videos by women!


Drylongso came out in 1998. Such an honor to be on this list. Thanks.


Akeelah and the Bee

Jessica Vooris

Vow of Silence by Be Steadwell, a queer musical fairytale featuring women of color! It’s amazing.


The Day I Became a Woman (Iranian, Marziyeh Meshkini Makhmalbaf; A Simple Life (Chinese, Ann Hui)

Linda B

The Color Purple


The movie "Sabah: A love Story" directed by Ruba Nadda should definitely be on this list!


Songs My Brothers Taught Me!

J. Emly

In my excitement, I misread the criteria. Still a wonderful film!

J. Emily

I would add East Side Sushi​ starring Elizabeth Diana Elizabeth Torres.


"The Day I Became a Woman" directed by Marzieh Makhmalbaf


the film is not about a woman, however, Valeria Sarmiento’s documentary "el hombre cuando es hombre" offers a comical critique of machismo and masculinity in latin american culture.


Camila by Maria Luisa Bemberg would perhaps qualify. "De cierta manera" was in post when director Sara Gomez unfortunately died. The film was finished by other cuban filmmakers, but it would be a good addition to the list.

Carolyn E Owuor

Set It Off


The Color Purple!


Strawberry Fields, 1997, Suzy Nakamura, lead, Rea Tajiri, Director

Celeste Frazier

Finally. I am so grateful there is now distribution for diverse filmmakers! Now it can truly get interesting!!!!

Amy Jo

Chutney Popcorn by Nisha Ganatra

Waukena Cuyjet

Postcard Brides

Lena Rothman

"precious" "for colored girls when the rainbow isn’t enough"

Lena Rothman

"Dry White Season"

angeline mingia

Daughters of the Dust

Lydia Dickson

Advantageous by Jennifer Phang

Linda Goldstein Knowlton

Great list! What about one for docs??

Hanan Hameen

Add "unspoken conversation" by Iman Uqdah Hameen, 1987. She was also a member of the Black Filmmakers Foundation and this is an award winning film that was used in higher education curriculum about women filmmakers.


Yes to the Joy Luck Club!


Also Patricia Riggen’s La Misma Luna


Danzón by María Novaro

Cristal Sabbagh

Black Orpheus, dir. Marcel Camus

Cristal Sabbagh

Raise the Red Lantern

Rea Tajiri

Strawberry Fields, starring Suzy Nakamura, Director Rea Tajiri


Docs included would increase list.
Middle Passage N Roots by Ada M. Babino

Ava Tehrani

Women Without Men by Shirin Neshat and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.


I Can’t Think Straight; Shamim Sarif

Persepolis; Marjane Satrapi

Tony Barnes

Venus Noire, Ganja and Hess, and Daughters of the Dust

Janette Robinson Flint

My Nappy Roots by Regina Kimbell


One of my favourite films last year was The Furthest End Awaits, directed by Chiang Hsiu-chiung. All about female friendship (and really good coffee) on the remote Japanese coast. I’m not sure it got a release outside Asia (I saw it at a festival) but it was gorgeous stuff.

Carolina Ramirez Islas

1) Women protagonists have always been a gem to find in film because they give audiences a story that may have never been contemplated due to the barriers of hegemony and ideological state apparatuses. The fact that a twitter post stumped several speaks a thousand words. You have an extremely open site filled with millions of people and only a handful can provide an answer to their favorite non-white leads? Unfortunately, many of Hollywood’s creations have set American entertainment into a trend of dominant ideologies of white patriarchal capitalism leaving the audience consistently hitting the societal glass ceiling without them noticing. Women’s films with women as leads are a great way for socially just advocacy however, independent films also provide a diverse range of perspectives that are left untouched by Classical Hollywood molds. Independent films are those that are outside of Hollywood’s production and most of the time consist of minorities and marginalized groups behind and in front of the cameras which means that the contribution from women in this cinema scene is still prevalent!

Marjorie lecker casting

she’s not of colour but let’s remember Patricia Rozema’s beautiful WHEN NIGHT IS FALLING -with Rachael Crawford as a lead
Mohawk Girls by Tracey Deer, Johnny Greyeyes – which has Female Native Canadian leads and writers –

marjorie lecker casting

chutney popcorn -nisha ganatra


Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Joy Luck Club, The Color Purple, Mixing Nia,Lackawana Blues, The Josephine Baker Story

Mary Jane Solis

Just saw Eastside Sushi, it was great!

Melissa Howden

Mississippi Masala – Mira Nair


now, how many of these pass the Bechdel test…

Iman Hameen

Add "unspoken conversation" (1987) by SIS. Iman Uqdah Hameen to the list. Student of Kathleen Collins-Prettyman ("Losing Ground") and Asst. Script Supervisor on "Alma’s Rainbow" by Ayoka Chenzira (which co-starred Isaiah Washington by the way).


I would had some animation film:
Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
Aya de Yopougon, de Marguerite Abouet
Sita sings the blues by Nina Paley


Access to the films is also a political question…


Great list. Next question – are these available to stream? Can i rent from any popular outlets?


Pelo Malo, Mariana Rondon.


"Paju" by Park Chan-ok is a masterpiece


Chutney Popcorn!

Kathryn Ramey

Not a feature but ngozi Onwurah’s "body beautiful" and the collected work "siren spirits", anything by Trinh t. Minh-ha, Maureen Blackwood’s films esp. The passion of rememberence (made with Isaac Julien) – I know this is a women and Hollywood blog, but you might want to look outside sankofa productions, women make movies, there are a lot of independent and alternative distributors out there!!!


Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002). Not directed by a Woman (Phillip Noyce) but Written by 2: Doris Pilkington (Nugi Garimara) and Christine Olsen


Invisible Light — Gina Kim

Pearl Klein

The Ties That Bind by Leila Djansi; Love the One You’re With by Patricia Cuffie-Jones (TV movie); Bloomington by Fernanda Cardoso


Kim Nguyen is a man though


please add Lady with a Sword, directed by Kao Pao-shu (1971) to this list!!


Beasts of the Southern Wild was not directed by a woman.


María Luisa Bemberg – I, the Worst of All

Toni Blackman

Looking forward…

Juanita Anderson

Also directed by Julie Dash: Funny Valentines (1999), Incognito (1999), The Rosa Parks Story (2002)


What about Beasts of the Southern Wild


Naturally Native by Valerie Red Horse

Tom Nguyen

The Joy Luck Club is good but wasn’t directed by a woman but written by Amy Tan. Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl directed by Joan Chen is a poignant one.



Sanna-Marie Manna


Juanita Anderson

adding "Illusions" by Julie Dash

Claire Andrade-Watkins

"Some Kind of Funny Porto Rican? ": A Cape Verdean American Story(2006 Claire Andrade-Watkins)

Julian H.

Not everything the Good People of Twitter tell you is correct. WAR WITCH is a fantastic film about people of color, but it’s director, Kim Nguyen, is a man.


How the Garcia Girls Spent their Summer by Georgina Reidel


No mention of Ann Hui and her work – especially Song of the Exile

Claudia Dodson

The World Unseen and I Can’t Think Straight directed by Shamin Sarif

Claudia Dodson

Nina’s Heavenly Delight directed by Pratibha Parmar

Claudia Dodson

The World Unseen and I Can’t Think Straight directed by Shamim Sarif

Stephanie Gates

A Dry White Season


Ah, I read the title wrong, I thought it said " OR about…", well 2 of my suggestions we directed by women at least, though, apparently not women of color


Thanks for the correction @Del. One question that came up in the original convo was whether Twitter could name 100 of these films. With the additional titles mentioned above, we’re at 90, as most of the above are directed by men and documentaries aren’t included. If anyone else has a favorite film to add to the list, weigh in!


"Rabbit Proof Fence"…it’s an Aboriginal film and it’s so good.


Beasts of the Sourhern Wild, Akeelah & The Bee, Girlhood, Toe to Toe


A lot of the films listed by Glenn were not directed by women though.
She’s Gotta Have It – Spike Lee
Set It Off – F. Gary Gray
Waiting to Exhale – Forrest Whitaker
What’s Love Got to Do With It – Brian Gibson
BAPS – Robert Townsend (who I love, but is clearly not a woman).
Now do you see why Ava DuVernay wanted to specifically highlight women directors? And women of color directors even more specifically?

Joshua Utter

Descent, starring Rosario Dawson, directed by Talia Lugacy. The most powerful rape-revenge film EVER.

Glenn Dunks

The three I suggested (clearly after cut off) were The Watermelon Woman, Radiance, and I’m The One That I Want. Could also through in any other Rachel Perkins film, The Joy Luck Club, Will, She’s Gotta Have It, Set it Off, Waiting to Exhale, What’s Love Got to Do With It, Land Without Men, Water, Black Chicks Talking, and for the sake of balance, Phat Girlz and B.A.P.S.

Loved seeing Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. on there though. A sadly forgotten flick, that.

Scott Bateman

Shirin Neshat’s "Women Without Men"




Great list but just to point out that Kim Nguyen is male. Diana Gueye’s Des Etoiles deserves to be on the list as well.


Thanks for weighing in guys. @Maria, great films, but those are all directed by men.


Nice list. The irony: With the exception of maybe 3 women on this list, NO ONE actually talks or "tweets" about these women. NO ONE.

Maria Francesca

The Joy Luck Club, In The Mood for Love, Make Your Move

Suzanne Hayes

OMG, Daughters of the Dust! How I love that film!


two more suggestions: Nnegest Likké’s Phat Girlz, Daisy von Scherler Mayer’s Woo.

DA Królak

Another Mina Shum movie is:
Contact the Filmmakers on IMDbPro »
Long Life, Happiness & Prosperity


Bruising for Besos directed by Adelina Anthony

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *