In an article about female film directors, a woman poses behind a film clap board.
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
Screens /// Thoughts x
In an article about female film directors, a woman poses behind a film clap board.
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

One of the many ways to show your appreciation for women this March is to consume some of the best female directed films in the industry.

It’s Women’s History Month – which means it’s an excellent time to look for films by female directors. If you’re looking to add more female-led films to your watched list on Letterboxd, then March is the perfect opportunity to do so. It’s no surprise that the film industry needs more female representation, especially when it comes to directors. It’s important for Hollywood to create opportunities for women to tell their own stories through film. Oftentimes it’s imperative that the female narrative should be told by a woman herself. In the spirit of the month, here are five films directed by women that everyone should watch.

‘Lady Bird’ (2017)Greta Gerwig

Greta Gerwig is no stranger to accurately depicting the female narrative. With a total of four directed films, Gerwig creates admirable work that her viewers can connect to. Her film “Lady Bird” grabs the attention of audiences with its relatable storyline of girlhood and its struggles. The movie follows Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, who is portrayed by Saoirse Ronan, and the strained relationship she has with her mom. The audience watches as she attempts to navigate her life as a young adult under familial pressure to make life-altering decisions. By the end of the movie, Lady Bird finds herself wanting to venture outside the limits of her life. Gerwig’s solo directorial debut tells this story both through Lady Bird herself, and through the film’s supporting characters as well. These characters, portrayed by Timothee Chalamet, Laurie Metcalf and Lucas Hedges, help to characterize the protagonist’s point of view through their interactions.

Gerwig proves she has a knack for film in behind-the-scenes clips of “Lady Bird.” Her interactions with the movie’s actors demonstrate her ability to create an environment that allows her charismatic energy to be transmitted into a successful piece of media. Since the film’s release in 2017, Gerwig has also directed the 2019 adaptation of “Little Women.” Her latest directorial work, the upcoming  “Barbie” film starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, is set to be released later this year.

‘Promising Young Woman’ (2020)Emerald Fennell

Most films that were released during the pandemic seemed to have been left behind, despite some of them being marginally underrated projects. The movie “Promising Young Woman” is a great example of a pandemic-era film that has gone overlooked. Emerald Fennell’s first directed feature film tells a powerfully grim narrative that is shockingly realistic. In this thriller/dark comedy, we follow a 30-year-old woman who is struggling to face life again after she goes through a traumatic experience. When the protagonist, Cassie Thomas, is younger, one of her friends gets raped and commits suicide as a result. Over the course of the film, Cassie attempts to seek retribution in an attempt to avenge her friend.

The film’s storyline is uncomfortable due to how accurately it resembles aspects of the real world. This is emphasized by Cassie’s encounters with each man throughout the plot and the red flags they present to her. Fennell’s ability to wittily tell a story creates a deeply sad and haunting plot that is almost difficult to stomach.

‘The Virgin Suicides’ (1999)Sofia Coppola

The film adaptation of Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel of the same name brings its characters and storylines to life. The plot follows a group of sisters during the mid-1970s as strange men become obsessed with them. Giovanni Ribisi’s narration represents the perspective of the boys who watch the five Lisbon sisters’ tragic ends unfold. The script for this film, which was rewritten by Coppola, accurately portrays the struggles of girls who are raised in religious households. Denied the ability to live out normal lives because of their religion, the girls’ adolescent angst is palpable through the screen. Performances by actors such as Kirsten Dunst, Kathleen Turner and Josh Hartnett help to build the film’s somber storyline.

Coppola’s work captures this grim visual style of isolation extremely well. This film has continued to receive positive criticism since its release in 1999 and is now recognized as a cult classic.  With several films under her belt, Coppola is definitely a female director to watch. Her upcoming directorial work for “Priscilla” – a Priscilla Presley novel adaptation – will be a fresh watch after the latest “Elvis” movie. Furthermore, films like “Lost In Translation” and “Marie Antoinette” are good enough reasons for viewers to continue to trust Coppola’s work.

‘Edge Of Seventeen’ (2016)Kelly Fremon Craig

Kelly Fremon Craig’s name probably won’t ring a bell at first. But given the work she has produced, as well as the numerous  projects she has on the horizon, Craig’s name will soon be one to take note of. “The Edge Of Seventeen” capitalizes on teenage angst and the fear of transitioning out of girlhood and into adulthood. The film mainly focuses on the main character Nadine as she struggles to find her place in the world as a 17-year-old girl.  Along with the loss of her father and the rocky relationship she has with her mother, both subplots emphasize her character’s loneliness. To make matters worse, she finds herself in the awkward position of dealing with a young teenager’s worst nightmare: her brother and best friend’s blossoming romantic relationship.

Not only was the casting of Hailee Steinfeld as Nadine spot on, but her dialogue flows seamlessly throughout the film.  From Steinfeld’s monologues to the argumentative dialogue she has with her brother, her mother and her teacher — someone who, strangely enough, becomes one of Nadine’s close friends – the storyline is wittily heartfelt. Craig is set to direct the upcoming book-to-film adaptation of Judy Blume‘s novel  “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” Directed and written by Craig, with a cast that includes Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates, the project shows immense promise.

‘Fresh’ (2022)Mimi Cave

The fact that this film was Mimi Cave’s directorial debut is extremely impressive. Prior to this, Cave directed multiple music videos and short films, though no one could have guessed she would direct such a yummy feature film. Starring Daisy Edgar Jones and Sebastian Stan, this cannibalistic film might be a tough one for some viewers to stomach. However, the storyline and chemistry between the two stars allow the audience to enjoy every second. If you like horror thrillers (this one particularly shines through during the film’s meat-eating scenes) then you will definitely want to give “Fresh” a try.

Released through the streaming service Hulu, “Fresh” garnered positive reception upon its initial release.  Cave’s upcoming directorial work titled “Holland, Michigan”  is another thriller film whose promising cast includes Nicole Kidman, Matthew MacFadyen and Gael Garcia Bernal. This project is currently in production and its release date has yet to be confirmed.

Women’s History Month continues to highlight women’s hard work in film, music, academia and many other industries. This month, we should show these talented female directors love and appreciation. For film buffs and Letterboxd users alike, this month presents a fun opportunity to give these female-led films a try. The film industry should continue to include the voices and direction of women, as showcasing their stories is important at any time of year. So go give these ladies’ films a watch as you celebrate Women’s History Month!

Writer Profile

Ally Najera

California State University, Northridge
Broadcast Journalism, minor in Marketing

I am currently studying broadcast journalism. I read religiously and love watching films. I am very passionate about words.

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