Critic and filmmaker Scout Tafoya asked over 50 film writers and cinephiles to name their ten favorite women-directed films. The resulting Fandor video essay counting down the resulting top 20 is a great showcase of the varieties of genius that women’s cinema, past and present, have to offer.
Immediately striking is the sheer breadth of genres and subjects included in so comparatively short a list. The films featured range from Australian director Jennifer Kent’s instant horror classic “The Babadook” from 2014 to Forough Farrokhzad’s 1962 “The House Is Black” — the short essay film about life in a leper colony now recognized as a landmark of Iranian cinema.
There are plenty of big-hitters and familiar names too, of course. Directors such as Agnès Varda and Jane Campion appear more than once (“Le Bonheur” and “Cleo from 5 to 7” make the cut for Varda, while it’s “Bright Star” and “The Piano” for Campion). The black comedic stylings of Elaine May also feature twice (represented by “Mikey & Nicky” and “A New Leaf”), as does the work of Claire Denis, whose “Trouble Every Day” and “Beau Travail” are honored. Topping the list is another doubly-featured director — the much-missed Chantal Akerman, for the film that many consider her masterpiece, “Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles.”
It’s a shame that more classic films didn’t make the cut — the pioneering silent-era work of women such as Lois Weber and Dorothy Arzner is neglected, for example, the list going no further back than Maya Deren’s 1943 surrealist work “Meshes of the Afternoon.” But then again, perhaps the list’s greatest testament to the significance of women directors’ work is precisely all that it leaves out. There’s no doubt that the contributors had a wealth of films to choose from: picking just 20 favorites seems nigh on impossible. Take a look at the video below to see how their favorites line up with your own.
[via The Playlist]