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Little White Lies Names 50 Great Movies by Female Directors

Little White Lies Names 50 Great Movies by Female Directors

In sync with the release of Mia Hansen-Løve’s “Eden,” Little White Lies has been spotlighting the work of female directors in its new issue. The list of 50 great women working today is available only to paying subscribers, but online, they’ve come up with a list of 100 great movies by women going back as far as 1912, which they’re posting 10 at a time. We’re at the halfway point now, and it’s worth pausing to consider the list so far, especially in comparison with the BBC poll naming the 100 greatest American movies of all time. The latter list, as we noted when it was published, contained only one movie (co-)directed by a woman: Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid’s 14-minute “Meshes of the Afternoon.”

“Meshes” makes Little White Lies’ chronological list as well, which in its first half gets all the way up to 1998. But it also includes Lois Weber’s “Suspense,” Dorothy Arzner’s “Merrily We Go to Hell,” Ida Lupino’s “The Hitch-Hiker,” Shirley Clarke’s “The Connection,” Barbara Loden’s “Wanda,” Doris Wishman’s “Double Agent 73,” Barbara Kopple’s” Harlan County USA,” Claudia Weil’s “Girlfriends,” Joan Micklin Silver’s  “Chilly Scenes of Winter,” Joan Tewkesbury’s “Old Boyfriends,” Lizzie Borden’s “Born in Flames”, Martha Coolidge’s “Valley Girl,” Susan Seidelman’s “Desperately Seeking Susan,” Elaine May’s “Ishtar,” Penny Marshall’s “Big,” Mary Lambert’s “Pet Sematary,” Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust,” Nancy Savoca’s” Dogfight,” Penelope Spheeris’ “Wayne’s World,” Tamra Davis’s “Billy Madison,” Kathryn Bigelow’s “Strange Days,” Amy Heckerling’s “Clueless,” Jodie Foster’s “Home For the Holidays,” and Allison Anders’ “Grace of My Heart,” all American releases that would have been eligible for the BBC list.

That said, it’s worth noting that, despite the fact that the U.S. makes most of the world’s movies, American movies make up (just) under half the list, and some of them stretch the boundaries of “great.” (You’re picking a Tamra Davis movie, and you go with Adam Sandler over “CB4”? For shame.) Nevertheless, it’s a fine collection, with several titles that went straight to my to-watch list, and a few I’d never even heard of. Tune in next week for the second half.

50 Great Films By Female Directors

“Falling Leaves” (Alice Guy-Blaché, 1912)
“Suspense” (Lois Weber, 1913)
“The Adventures of Prince Achmed” (Lotte Reiniger, 1926)
“The Seashell and the Clergyman” (Germaine Dulac, 1928)
“Merrily We Go to Hell” (Dorothy Arzner, 1932)
“Triumph of the Will” (Leni Riefenstahl, 1935)
“Meshes of the Afternoon” (Maya Deren, 1943)
“Death is a Caress” (Edith Carlmar, 1949)
“A Portrait of Ga” (Margaret Tait, 1952)
“The Hitch-Hiker” (Ida Lupino, 1953)
“The Connection” (Shirley Clarke, 1962)
“Something Different” (Vera Chytilová, 1963)
“The House is Black” (Forough Farrokhzad, 1963)
“Brief Encounters” (Kira Muratova, 1968)
“Wanda” (Barbara Loden, 1970)
“The Arch” (Cecile Tang Shu Shuen, 1970)
“Terminal Island” (Stephanie Rothman, 1973)
“Double Agent 73” (Doris Wishman, 1974)
“India Song” (Marguerite Duras, 1975)
“Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles” (Chantal Akerman, 1975)
“Seven Beauties” (Lina Wertmüller, 1975)
“Harlan County, USA” (Barbara Kopple, 1976)
“The Ascent” (Larisa Shepitko, 1977)
“Girlfriends” (Claudia Weil, 1978)
“The Second Awakening of Christa Klages” (Margarethe von Trotta, 1978)
“Chilly Scenes of Winter” (Joan Micklin Silver, 1979)
“Old Boyfriends” (Joan Tewkesbury, 1979)
“My Brilliant Career” (Gillian Armstrong, 1994)
“Germany Pale Mother” (Helma Sanders-Brahms, 1980)
“Freak Orlando” (Ultrike Ottinger, 1981)
“Boat People” (Ann Hui, 1982)
“Born in Flames” (Lizzie Borden, 1983)
“Valley Girl” (Martha Coolidge, 1983)
“Desperately Seeking Susan” (Susan Seidelman, 1984)
“Vagabond” (Agnès Varda, 1985)
“Ishtar” (Elaine May, 1987)
“Big” (Penny Marshall, 1988)
“Celia” (Ann Turner, 1989)
“Pet Sematary” (Mary Lambert, 1989)
“Daughters of the Dust” (Julie Dash, 1991)
“Dogfight” (Nancy Savoca, 1991)
“Orlando” (Sally Potter, 1992)
“Wayne’s World” (Penelope Spheeris, 1992)
“Billy Madison” (Tamra Davis, 1995)
“Strange Days” (Kathryn Bigelow, 1995)
“Clueless” (Amy Heckerling, 1995)
“Home for the Holidays” (Jodie Foster, 1996)
“Grace of My Heart” (Allison Anders, 1996)
“Fire” (Deepa Metha, 1997)
“Divorce Iranian Style” (Kim Longinotto, 1998)

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