Since Mary Pickford began United Artists in 1919 with her then-husband Douglas Fairbanks and their friends Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith, the idea of women in film has propelled not just from starring in or writing films, but producing, directing, and creating a cinematic universe of their own. The topic rings perhaps even more relevant today, as the issue of equal pay and proper roles for women in the industry remains unsolved and in need of a drastic, timely change.
In a new video essay by Fandor, other directors were asked to pick their favorite films directed by women and be ranked from 20-to-1. The list spans decades, going as far back as 1943 to Maya Deren’s “Meshes of the Afternoon,” a circular, surrealist masterpiece, and as recent as the brilliant Kelly Reichardt’s 2011 western drama “Meek’s Cutoff.”
The ever-inspirational and paramount Agnes Varda and Claire Denis each appear on the list twice, with “Cleo From 5 to 7,” “Le Bonheur,” “Trouble Every Day,” and “Beau Travail,” respectively.
Academy Award-winner Kathryn Bigelow’s “Near Dark,” the eloquent and hysterical Elaine May’s “Mikey & Nicky” and “A New Leaf”, and Jennifer Kent’s terrifying “The Babadook” secure their own places on the list, as does Sofia Coppola’s unforgettable “Lost in Translation.”
After watching the essay and realizing just how many of these films I need to rewatch (or, I regrettably admit, see for the first time), the presence of strong, intelligent women in cinema is undeniable; the only way to go from here is up.
What is your favorite female directed film? Let us know in the comments below.