Films by Female Movie Directors
We explore a diverse collection of movies with female directors behind the lens – many of them are not well-known but are popular amongst female audiences. (Photo by Taine Noble on Unsplash)

Filmmaking has long been a male-dominated space, but thankfully that is starting to change. Some incredibly talented women directors have recently burst onto the scene, bringing fresh stories and styles to the screen. They tackle complex themes while featuring authentic, multidimensional women characters rarely seen in past eras.

As pioneers behind the camera, these directors are expanding representation and diverse points of view in thought-provoking, emotionally resonant films. As we are always looking to come up with new content to capture the imagination, hearts and minds of our Filmzie readership, we thought this would be a great topic to cover!

Here are 10 movies produced by female directors:

The Lost Daughter (2021) – Maggie Gyllenhaal

Gyllenhaal translates Elena Ferrante’s complex novel about regretful motherhood to screen with visual flair. Olivia Colman astonishes as a middle-aged academic haunted by her fraught past parenting two daughters. Unflinching yet thoughtful, Gyllenhaal announces herself as an exciting emerging director.

Nomadland (2020) – Chloé Zhao

Zhao casts real-life older nomads as fictional Fern’s fellow wanderers in her poetic, gorgeous portrayal of alternative communities. Through Fern’s eyes, we observe resilient people finding meaning on society’s fringes, living authentically amid adversity.  Zhao contemplates loss and new beginnings with great empathy.

Frozen (2013) / Frozen II (2019) – Jennifer Lee

Screenwriter Lee was promoted to co-direct Disney’s 2013 musical phenomenon, helping catapult the studio into a new animation renaissance. The films follow two sisters embracing their family and their true selves.  Lee and co-director Chris Buck orchestrate stunning musical sequences amidst soaring themes of courage and love.

Little Women (2019) – Greta Gerwig

Gerwig breathed new life into the classic novel, cleverly playing with timelines as the March sisters come of age.  With humor and heartbreak, she explores women defying expectations to lead lives of purpose.  Saoirse Ronan is superb as the headstrong writer Jo March.  Gerwig earned Oscar noms for her adapted screenplay and direction.

Lady Bird (2017) – Greta Gerwig

Saoirse Ronan shines as a young woman itching to escape hometown Sacramento in Gerwig’s funny, painfully honest directorial debut. Through Lady Bird’s first jobs, loves and college aspirations, Gerwig insightfully articulates timeless growing pains. Her nuanced characters feel wonderfully real and human.

The Babadook (2014) – Jennifer Kent

In this chilling Australian indie film, Kent uses horror to analyze grief and mental health struggles. Essie Davis gives a raw, towering performance as a widowed mother battling her inner demons in the form of a sinister pop-up book monster.  Scary yet moving, Kent’s debut announced a bold new directorial talent.

American Psycho (2000) – Mary Harron

With cold, satirical lens, Harron adapts Bret Easton Ellis’ ultra-violent novel, offering biting commentary on capitalism, misogyny and materialism through serial killer Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale). Super-stylized and shocking, Harron doesn’t flinch from the brutality, while suggesting the soullessness of a ruthless, image-obsessed society.

The Virgin Suicides (1999) – Sofia Coppola

Coppola arrived as a talent to watch with her dreamy, darkly poetic feature debut investigating a 1970s suburban tragedy.  Through mesmerizing visuals, she considers the inner-lives and societal limitations imposed on five mysterious sisters who each died by suicide. An evocative mood piece with a spectacular soundtrack, the film launched Coppola’s ethereal directorial style.

Boys Don’t Cry (1999) – Kimberly Peirce

Peirce boldly tackles issues of gender, identity and sexuality in this searing portrait of real-life trans man Brandon Teena.  Newcomer Hilary Swank gives an Oscar-winning performance conveying Brandon’s longing to be accepted for who he is. Tragic yet impactful, Peirce surveys intolerance with empathy.

A League of Their Own (1992) – Penny Marshall

Marshall drew inspiration from her own baseball past to helm this funny, heartfelt crowd-pleaser. Geena Davis, Tom Hanks and Madonna lead an all-star cast as players in a World War II-era women’s professional baseball league. With nostalgia and charm, Marshall celebrates trailblazing female athletes.

Looking for more movies directed by females?

There is an entire section dedicated to this genre here on Filmzie. Take a look at some of the movies here on the ‘Movie List of Films Directed by Women.’ Some of the titles include True Women, The Game of the Clock, Bonnie and Lionnie, The Wedding, Lemonade, Delicious, Back to Bosnia, Pasta at Home, and many more. Overall, there are more than 70 to choose from!

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