Five Films Directed By Women To Watch on Netflix

When choosing a film to watch on Netflix, or any platform for that matter, we may or may not consciously consider who directed the film, let alone what their gender is. However, the lack of female directors compared to male is stark. It’s always important to support your fellow women, and doing so helps make progress towards greater female representation in all aspects of film.  

 

 

  1. Skate Kitchen (2018) dir. Crystal Moselle

 

    Moselle’s debut feature film masterpiece explores skate culture among youth in New York City. In this story, loner skater Camille meets a group of fellow female skaters through Instagram and quickly strikes up a friendship. The girls are part of a collective they call “Skate Kitchen,” which they warmly welcome Camille into despite her shy disposition. The film features breakout star Rachelle Vinberg, Orange is the New Black’s Elizabeth Rodriguez, and Jaden Smith. The majority of the rest of the cast is made up of the real “Skate Kitchen” members, as the film is based off of an actual group of female skaters who met Moselle on the subway in NYC by chance. The real-life closeness between the “Skate Kitchen” girls allows the film an effortlessness in portraying real friends who possess a natural dynamic, without trying to force an artificial “girl power” narrative. The girls are shown talking about anything, from debating conspiracy theories to unpacking violating experiences they've had with boys. Though drama ensues as Camille learns how to be loyal in the name of sisterhood, most of the film feels just like hanging out with a group of friends as they loiter around public spaces and kill time skating and partying during the summer.

 

 

 

2) 6 Balloons (2018) dir. Marja-Lewis Ryan

 

    Starring Dave Franco and Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson, this devastating drama is the story of Seth, a struggling heroin addict, and Katie, his concerned sister trying to find a detox center to take him to after discovering he relapsed. Though on the surface Katie may appear to have her life together, it is apparent upon further inspection that she could be headed towards a downward spiral, and taking on the weight of Seth’s addiction becomes overwhelming. Meanwhile, Seth has a two-year-old daughter to look after, whom Katie assumes responsibility for for the duration of the night as he goes through withdrawal in front of both of them. The storyline of the film is actually based on a real experience that Ryan’s best friend (and one of the film’s co-producers), Samantha Housman, had with her brother. Sounds of a water flowing back and forth and Katie’s inner thoughts taking the form of a self-help tape on repeat accent the film. There are consistent shots in which Katie imagines them drowning in the car, likely as a result of Seth’s addiction pushing her under the surface. Overall, it’s a painful look at unconditional love and continuing to support an addict who may be beyond help.

 

3) Period. End of Sentence. (2018) dir. Rayka Zehtabchi

 

    In this documentary short that won the Academy-Award this year (!!), Zehtabchi observes women in Hapur, India grappling with the stigma surrounding menstruation in their community. These women share their stories and knowledge about periods, one young woman revealing that she had to drop out of school because keeping up the maintenance of her period became so difficult due to inaccessibility of effective sanitation materials and lack of privacy to change her cloth. When asked about periods, many of the younger people and even some of the older men are hesitant or decline to comment, coupled with giggling, blushing, and indications of feeling awkward. At one point, periods are referred to as “the biggest taboo in India,” and while many women could afford to go buy pads at the store, they are too embarrassed. The film then shows a group of women learning how to make pads themselves using specialized machines. These women take immense pride in their work, some indicating that it’s their first “real” job (however, the work many of these women have certainly done raising families and maintaining their homes throughout their lives must not go unacknowledged). They name their product “Fly” because, as one woman shares, they “want women to rise and fly,” a message that encapsulates the overall spirit of the film. To install more pad machines worldwide and support the movement, go to www.thepadproject.org.

 

 

4) Dude (2018) dir. Olivia Milch

 

    Before she co-wrote Ocean’s Eight, Milch wrote and directed another film that focuses on female relationships (albeit in a very different way). Dude—a questionable title—follows a group of four friends as they cruise through their final two weeks of high school. Though Amelia and Rebecca are presented with their own personal issues to deal with, their focal moments are primarily comedic, while the film gives more dramatic focus to the relationship between Lily and Chloe, the closer two of the group of best friends. The two girls are shown dealing with the loss of Thomas, Chloe’s brother and Lily’s boyfriend, who died suddenly in a car crash a year earlier. This through line of grief and adaptation to sudden change—especially for protagonist Lily—works well in a film about friends who must learn to let go while still enjoying their final moments of true adolescence. There is also something refreshing about the honest portrayal of this carefree teenage lifestyle that feels genuine without trying too hard to feel like it “goes there” in terms of shocking content. We get a clear perspective of the girls’ friendship dynamics with one another while still being able to track the changes in their inner circle brought upon by their impending futures at college. This film would have made you especially emotional when you were about to graduate high school, but for college girls now, it might just make you miss your high school “life partners.”

 

 

5) Lady Bird (2017) dir. Greta Gerwig

 

    Gerwig’s directorial debut, Lady Bird, seems an inevitable choice for a female-led film to watch. The Academy Award Nominated-film, which Gerwig also wrote, follows Lady Bird McPherson (her “given name,” given to her by her) as she navigates her senior year at her Catholic high school in Sacramento. Lady Bird must deal with her strained relationship with her mother, her altering friend group and romantic endeavours, and her future college plans. The film is part of an ever-growing trend in which critically acclaimed projects seem to be artistically validating the genre of the “teen movie,” by making films about teenagers that are not necessarily aimed at a teenage audience (though the film certainly can be watched and enjoyed by teens). With Saoirse Ronan playing the titular role in a widely praised performance, the beloved Laurie Metcalf as her mother, and ever-rising stars Timothée Chalamet and Lucas Hedges as her love interests, the film is packed with talent, and Gerwig’s directing is proof that you can nail it on the first try.