5 Incredible Female Directors (With Awesome Movies) That You Have To Pay Attention

Whether you like to have movie marathon by yourself or have movie nights in with your friends, do you know who is the genius behind your favorite movie?

Directors play a major role in the creation of a film: they are responsible for creative and technical aspects –  and also help actors to understand their characters’ personalities, motivations and back-story. 

Unfortunately, directing is a role mainly occupied by men. According to a study made by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the movie industry hires 1 female director for every 22 male directors. The research also states that, of the 1,100 films made in the last 11 years, only 4% were direct by women.  

For that reason, here at Her Campus we believe that it is extremely important to know and support the female directors that fight daily against the sexism in the film industry. Let’s start with a list of 5 amazing and inspiring female directors that have created remarkable work for the big screen.

5 amazing and inspiring female directors

#1 Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)

Image Source: Gabriel Bouys/Getty Images via IMDb

Katherine Bigelow is an American director, producer and writer, and also the first and only woman, as of March 1 2018, to win an Academy Award for Best Director for her work in The Hurt Locker . The film was released in June 26, 2009, and is a thriller about the Iraq war. It follows a group that is being targeted by armed rebels and it focuses on their psychological reactions to the stress and adrenaline of the combat throughout the film.

Bigelow also won the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing, the BAFTA Award for Best Direction, and the Critics Choice Movie Awards for Best Director, all for her work in The Hurt Locker.

She is also known for her amazing work in films like: Zero Dirk Thirty, Near Dark, Strange Days and Point Break.

Make sure to watch one of her impeccable films on your next movie night. Trust me, you’ll not regret it!

#2 Ava DuVernay (A Wrinkle in Time)

Image Source: Atsushi Nishjima/Paramount Pictures via IMDb

Raise your hand if you like Disney movies! A Wrinkle in Time is scheduled to be released by Walt Disney Pictures on March 9, 2018. Starring many of our favorite stars, including Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon, the film is about a young girl who goes on an adventure to find her father – who went missing after discovering a new planet – with the help of three astral travelers! 

Ava DuVernay, an American film director, producer, screenwriter, film marketer and film distributor became the first African-American woman to direct a film with a nine-digit budget (US$103 million). She is also the first African-American to win the U.S. Directing Award: Dramatic at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for her second feature film, Middle of Nowhere

And it doesn’t stop here: she is also the first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her work in Selma, and the first black female director to have her film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, also for Selma.

Make sure to check out some of her wonderful work in Selma (2015), 13th (2016) – nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature –, August 28: A Day in the Life of a People (2017) and A Wrinkle in Time (2018).

#3 Anna Muylaert (Que Horas Ela Volta?)

Image Source: IMDb

Anna Muylaert is a Brazilian film-maker, director and screenwriter. She is best known for her amazing work in Que Horas Ela Volta?, which won 7 awards at the 15° Prêmio do Cinema Brasileiro – including Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Fictional Feature Film. The film also won awards at Sundance Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival and Prêmio Platino. 

Que Horas Ela Volta? tells the story of Val (Regina Casé), a strong woman who moves to São Paulo in order to be able to give her daughter a better life. Years later, Jessica (Camila Márdila), her daughter, tells her mother she also wants to move to São Paulo. The movie shows the relationship and the social conflicts between both.

Muylaert is also known for her work as a screenwriter, as she took part in the creation of shows like Mundo da Lua (1991), Castelo-Rá-Tim-Bum (1995) and Um Menino Muito Maluquinho (2006). 

Make sure to watch some of Anna Muylaert’s work (I suggest you start with Que Horas Ela Volta?) and support our local and incredible national film industry!

#4 Dee Rees (Pariah)

Image Source: Jeffrey Mayes/Getty Images via IMDb

Dee Rees is an American screenwriter and director. She is known for her feature films, such as Pariah (2011), Bessie (2015) and Mudbound (2017).

Pariah is a film about Alike (Adepero Oduye), a teenager that is conflicted between openly accepting her sexuality or assenting the plans her parents have for her life. Rees described the movie as a semi-autobiographical, because it is real and shows the struggles she had when accepting herself as lesbian.

The film won awards at Chicago Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival in Best Short Narrative,  Sundance Film Festival Excellence in Cinematography Award: U.S. Dramatic, and at Los Angeles Film Festival in Audience Award- Best Short Film.

Rees was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for her work in Mudbound, which was adapted from the 2008 novel by the same name by Hillary Jordan.

Dee Rees is another amazing director you have got to check out on your next movie night! 

#5 Jane Campion (The Piano)

Image Source: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images via IMDb

Jane Campion is a New Zealand screenwriter, producer and director. She is the second of five women ever nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and is the first and only female filmmaker in history to receive the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival – which she received for directing the acclaimed film The Piano (1993), for the same she also won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

The Piano is a drama film set in mid-19th century about a mute woman who is passionate about playing the piano. However, after being sold by her father into marriage to a wealthy landowner, she struggles with her reality and even more when her piano is sold, the film shows her effort to regain her piano and also shows her affair with a local worker on the plantation. 

Campion is known as well for her work in Sweetie (1989), An Angel at My Table (1990), The Portrait of a Lad (1996) and Bright Star (2009). If you like to watch drama films, I’m sure you’ll love The Piano!

After meeting all of these talented and empowering women I bet you can’t wait for your next movie marathon – but you’re not alone, I can’t either! 

Let’s enjoy the rest of this International Women’s Week by adding these magnificent movies to our To-Watch-List!