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Update!: 115 Films By and About Women of Color, and What We Can Learn From Them

Update!: 115 Films By and About Women of Color, and What We Can Learn From Them

The response was overwhelming after we posted the original list of 84
Films By and About Women of Color
, which came from a recent Twitter
conversation led by director Ava DuVernay. Not only was the list shared far and
wide, but lots of readers weighed in with more film suggestions to add.

After tallying up the additional titles, not only has the
list grown to 115 women-directed films about women of color, but there are also
a number of insights we can draw from the data.

To be clear, the list itself isn’t comprehensive and doesn’t
claim to represent every woman-directed film about women of color; there would
be too many to name. Rather, consider it a solid reflection of people’s tastes.
The original
was to “name three films you like with black, brown, native or
Asian women leads” that were also directed by women. So the response online
tells us a great deal about the films that general movie fans watch, like and

You could say that the original list of 84 films reflects
which movies had an impact on Hollywood and the US independent film scene,
since the call came from a well-known US-based filmmaker. In order to come up
with titles beyond the original 84, many of you looked to films made overseas,
in nations where people of color are the majority.

It’s interesting to note which directors were listed
multiple times; names like Mira Nair, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Gurinder Chadha
came up more than once as women who have built careers on telling the stories
of women of color, and whose films have made money over the years.

And of note, we’re looking only at feature-length, scripted
films directed by women. Of course there are lots of important documentaries made
by and about women of color, arguably many more than narrative features due to
the cost and means of documentary production. So again, there would be too many
documentaries to name here. There’s also the fact that many docs focus on
groups of people, societal systems, or eras in history rather than individual
protagonists, which makes it tougher to classify which documentaries are
“led by women of color.” But it may be worth a separate discussion on
docs in the future.

For now, here’s the updated list of 115 women-directed films
with black, brown, native and Asian women leads. Most of the titles from the
past decade are available on cable, DVD and/or Netflix. Although still in beta,
the MPAA’s database is a
good place to start your search for each movie. For older, indie or
lesser-known titles, media organizations like Third
World Newsreel
and Women Make Movies are
great resources to locate these films. And still more of these films aren’t
available from major retailers or distributors. “Naturally Native,”
for example, couldn’t be found through a mainstream distributor, but the film
still has a website
where you can order it directly from the filmmakers. It may take some hunting to
find some of these titles, but it’s certainly worth the time.

So there you have it. Watch, enjoy and most importantly,

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)

A Tale of Love by T. Minh-ha Trinh (1995)

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)

Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet  (2013)

B For Boy by Chika Anadu (2013)

Bande de Filles (Girlhood) by Céline Sciamma (2014)

Belle by Amma Asante (2013)

Bend it Like Beckham by Gurinder Chadha (2002)

Bessie by Dee Rees (2015)

Beyond the Lights by Gina Prince-Bythewood (2014)

Bhaji on the Beach by Gurinder Chadha (1993)

Camila by María Luisa Bemberg (1984)

Caramel by Nadine Labaki  (2007)

Chutney Popcorn by Nisha Ganatra (1999)

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)

Des étoiles (Under The Starry Sky) by Dyana Gaye (2014)

Descent by Talia Lugacy (2007)

Double Happiness  by Mina
Shum (1994)

Down in the Delta by Maya Angelou (1998)

Drylongso by Cauleen Smith (1988)

Earth by Deepa Mehta (1998)

Elza by Mariette Monpierre (2011)

Endless Dreams by Susan Youssef (2009)

Eve’s Bayou by Kasi Lemmons (1997)

Fire by Deepa Mehta (1996)

Frida by Julie Taymor (2002)

Funny Valentines by Julie Dash (1999)

Girl in Progress by Patricia Riggen (2012)

Girlfight by Karyn Kusama (2000)

Goyangileul butaghae (Take Care of My Cat) by Jeong Jae-eun

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)

How The Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer by Georgina Reidel

I Can’t Think Straight by Shamim Sarif (2008)

I Like It Like That by Darnell Martin (1994)

I Will Follow by Ava DuVernay (2010)

In Between Days by So-yong Kim (2006)

Incognito by Julie Dash (1999)

Introducing Dorothy Dandridge by Martha Coolidge (1999)

Invisible Light by Gina Kim (2003)

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)

Lady With a Sword by Kao Pao-shu  (1971)

Long Life, Happiness & Prosperity by Mina Shum (2002)

Losing Ground by Kathleen Collins (1982)

Love & Basketball by Gina Prince-Bythewood (2000

Love the One You’re With by Patricia Cuffie-Jones (2015)

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)

Naturally Native by Valerie Red-Horse (1998)

Night Catches Us by Tanya Hamilton (2010)

Nina’s Heavenly Delights by Pratibha Parmar (2006)

Paju by Chan-ok Park (2009)

Pariah by Dee Rees (2011)

Peeples by Tina Gordon Chism (2013)

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi  (2007)

Phat Girlz by Nnegest Likké (2006)

Picture Bride by Kayo Hatta (1994)

Radiance by Rachel Perkins (1998)

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)

Sita sings the blues by Nina Paley (2008)

Something Necessary by Judy Kibinge (2013)

Something New by Sanaa Hamri (2006)

Song of the Exile by Ann Hui (1990

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 Rosa Parks Story by Julie Dash (2002)

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)

The World Unseen by Shamim Sarif (2007)

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Darnell Martin (2005)

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

Ties That Bind by Leila Djansi (2011)

Toe to Toe by Emily Abt  (2009)

Wadjda by Haifaa Al-Mansour (2012)

Water by Deepa Mehta (2005)

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 (2015)

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

Women Without Men by Shirin Neshat (2009)

Woo by Daisy von Scherler Mayer (1998)

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

Yelling to the Sky by Victoria Mahoney (2011)

Yo, la peor de todas (I, The Worst of All) by María Luisa
Bemberg (1990)

Young and Wild by Marialy Rivas (2012)


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

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