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(A Celebratory) Weekly Update for October 23: Women Centric, Directed and Written Films Playing Near You

(A Celebratory) Weekly Update for October 23: Women Centric, Directed and Written Films Playing Near You

It’s a great week for women at the movies. It’s not often that we can say that, but this lineup of new releases by and about women is well worth celebrating. The story behind women’s passionate, violent fight for the vote in the U.K. is finally, finally coming to the big screen. And it’s women who got it there. “Suffragette” is directed by Sarah Gavron, written by Abi Morgan and the drama’s stacked female ensemble includes Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep. 

But “Suffragette” isn’t the only title of note opening in theaters this week. Sarah Silverman gives a career-altering performance as a woman besieged by addiction and depression in “I Smile Back.”

As for a real-life dark drama, check out Leslee Udwin’s “India’s Daughter,” a powerful documentary about the shockingly brutal 2012 South Dehli gang rape (and subsequent death) of Jyoti Singh that made international headlines. 

“Difret,” executive produced by Angelina Jolie, is a fictionalized account of the toll misogyny takes on cultural practices when Hirut, a young teen is abducted by a prospective husband — a tradition in her village. Hirut refuses to go along with the process, killing her captor and standing on trial to defend her body, future and free will. 

See below for a list of films by and about women currently in theaters, and be sure to check out our interviews with the projects’ on- and off-screen talent.  

Films About Women Opening This Week

Suffragette – Directed by Sarah Gavron; Written by Abi Morgan – Women and Hollywood’s Pick of the Week

The fight for women’s right to the ballot comes alive this weekend with the opening of “Suffragette,” starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Romola Garai, Anne-Marie Duff and Meryl Streep in a brief cameo as Emmeline Pankhurst. Director Sarah Gavron and screenwriter Abi Morgan’s inspirational drama focuses on the steep sacrifices the foot soldiers of the movement were forced to make, especially after many of them decide resort to violence after half a century of futile peaceful protest. (Melissa Silverstein and Inkoo Kang)

Listen to Women and Hollywood’s podcast with Sarah Gavron
Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Sarah Gavron
Read Women and Hollywood’s Five Reasons to Watch “Suffragette”

I Smile Back – Written by Amy Koppelman and Paige Dylan

Sarah Silverman thrills in a lead dramatic role as Laney, a suburban housewife and mother of two battling drug addiction. In my review for TheWrap, I wrote, “‘I Smile Back’ adopts the trendy ‘grimdark’ sensibility — best expressed in ultra-bleak, hyper-violent, punishing-to-watch fare like ‘The Dark Knight’ trilogy and TV’s ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Sons of Anarchy’ — and applies it to Betty Friedan’s ‘problem with no name.’ Like so many well-to-do housewives of Friedan’s ‘Feminine Mystique’ era, there’s nothing outwardly wrong with Laney’s life, which makes her chronic unhappiness invisible, if not inexplicable, to others. On paper, at least, that novel union of voguish mood and the premise is a worthwhile experiment.” (Inkoo Kang)

India’s Daughter (Documentary) – Directed by Leslee Udwin

“India’s Daughter” tells the story of 23-year-old Jyoti Singh, a medical student, who was raped and brutalized on her way home from seeing “The Life of Pi.” For the crime of being a young woman who enjoyed an evening out with a (male) friend in a democratic, civil society, she was gang-raped and ultimately killed. This young woman, with so much promise ahead of her, was murdered by a mob of men who believed that no woman should have the freedom that was her legal right. (Her friend was also assaulted; he survived.) (Melissa Silverstein)

Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Leslee Udwin


When 14-year-old Hirut (Tizita Hagere) gets abducted for marriage in the long tradition of her village, she fights back, says no, kills her captor and is put on trial for her life. A brave female attorney (Meron Getnet) takes her case and fights to buck these archaic traditions in an emotionally powerful film based on a true story. (Melissa Silverstein)

Jem and the Holograms

As a small-town girl (Aubrey Peebles) catapults from underground video sensation to global superstar, she and her three sisters (Stefanie Scott, Aurora Perrineau and Hayley Kiyoko) begin a journey of discovering that some talents are too special to keep hidden. (Press materials)


When her possessive high school boyfriend (Vincent Martella) dies in a gruesome accident, Fern Petersen’s (Jennifer Laporte) life is thrown into turmoil. Things go from bad to worse when he returns as a love-sick ghost to kill her so they can be together for eternity. (Press materials)

Films About Women Currently Playing

Something Better to Come (Documentary) – Directed by Hanna Polak
Crimson Peak
The Assassin 
Momentum – Co-Written by Debra Sullivan
Jane B. for Agnès V. (Documentary) – Directed by Agnès Varda 
Kung Fu Master! – Directed by Agnès Varda; Written by Agnès Varda and Jane Birkin
The Scarapist – Written by Jeanne Marie Spicuzza 
Dukhtar – Written and Directed by Afia Nathaniel
The Final Girls
Big Stone Gap – Written and Directed by Adriana Trigiani
A Woman Like Me (Hybrid Documentary) – Directed by Elizabeth Giamatti and Alex Sichel; Written by Alex Sichel
A Ballerina’s Tale (Documentary)
He Named Me Malala (Documentary)
Shout Gladi Gladi (Documentary)
The Keeping Room – Written by Julia Hart 
Breathe – Written and Directed by Mélanie Laurent
The Second Mother – Written and Directed by Anna Muylaert
Learning to Drive – Directed by Isabel Coixet; Written by Sarah Kernochan
Ricki and the Flash – Written by Diablo Cody 
The Diary of a Teenage Girl – Written and Directed by Marielle Heller 
Trainwreck – Written by Amy Schumer
Inside Out

Films Directed by Women Currently Playing

Meadowland – Directed by Reed Morano
Heart of a Dog (Documentary) – Written and Directed by Laurie Anderson 
Tales of Halloween – Co-Directed and Co-Written by Axelle Carolyn
Godspeed: The Story of Page Jones (Documentary) – Directed by Luann Barry 
In My Father’s House (Documentary) – Directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg
The Intern – Written and Directed by Nancy Meyers
Mississippi Grind – Co-Directed and Co-Written by Anna Boden
Sleeping With Other People – Written and Directed by Leslye Headland
Meet the Patels (Documentary) – Co-Directed by Geeta Patel
Goodnight Mommy – Co-Directed and Co-Written by Veronika Franz
Meru (Documentary) – Co-Directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelvi
Infinitely Polar Bear – Written and Directed by Maya Forbes 
The Wolfpack (Documentary) – Directed by Crystal Moselle
Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet – Co-Directed by Joan C. Gratz and Nina Paley 
Prophet’s Prey (Documentary) – Written and Directed by Amy J. Berg
Rosenwald (Documentary) – Directed by Aviva Kempner 

Films Written by Women Currently Playing

Room – Written by Emma Donoghue
Labyrinth of Lies/Im Labyrinth des Schweigens – Co-Written by Elisabeth Bartel
Straight Outta Compton – Co-Written by Andrea Berloff 
Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation – Co-Written by Laeta Kalogridis 
Jurassic World – Co-Written by Amanda Silver

VOD/DVD Releasing This Week 

How to Dance in Ohio (Documentary) – Directed by Alexandra Shiva (HBO, October 26)
Meadowland (VOD) – Directed by Reed Morano
Marry Me for Christmas (DVD) – Written by Rhonda Baraka
Tu Dors Nicole (DVD) – Directed by Stéphane Lafleur; Written by Valérie Beaugrand-Champagne and Stéphane Lafleu

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