5 Films Directed By Women In 2018 That Deserve More Attention

The film industry has been a predominantly male-dominated field since the creation of film itself. According to Women and Hollywood, only 4% of directors from the top 100 grossing films of 2018 were women, which corresponds to about 22 male directors being hired for every woman. As unfortunate and disheartening as this is, we cannot forget to mention and give praise to those female directors who did create successful films this past year, many of whom do not get the critical acclaim and attention they deserve. Here are 5 female directed films from 2018 worth watching!

1. You Were Never Really Here - Lynne Ramsay

Lynne Ramsay is a Scottish writer, cinematographer, producer and director who is best known for her feature films, including We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) and You Were Never Really Here (2017). Ramsay’s films, rather than sticking to the status quo of explicit story exposition and heavy dialogue, paint their own universe using sound design, striking images, graphic details and complementary music. Her works tend to explore melancholy themes, such as grief, guilt and death, with a focus primarily on children.

You Were Never Really Here is an adaptation of Jonathan Ames’ novella of the same name. The story’s protagonist, Joe, is a traumatized and suicidal hitman who gets hired to rescue Nina, the daughter of a New York State Senator, from the child sex traffickers who kidnapped her. This film delves deep into heavy topics, dealing with trauma, depression, corruption, abuse, suicidal thoughts, death and much more. The film premiered at the 70th Cannes Film Festival in 2017, where Ramsay won the Best Screenplay award after receiving a seven-minute standing ovation. The film was later released in April of 2018 by Amazon Studios.

2. Shirkers - Sandi Tan

Sandi Tan, born in Singapore, is a film critic, director and writer. At age 22, she became a film critic for The Straits Times, Singapore’s largest newspaper, but she then decided to attend film school at Columbia University. She has directed short films, including Moveable Feast (1996) and Gourmet Baby (2001), which have been screened at over 100 film festivals.

Her latest work, Shirkers, documents the story behind the disappearance and resurgence of her debut film (with the same name) that she created as a teenager with some of her friends and her American mentor, Georges Cardona, in 1992. According to The Guardian, the original Shirkers was an indie road movie starring Tan as a 16-year-old serial killer named S. However, before even getting to finish the project, Cardona disappeared, along with all 70 cans of 16 mm film.

In this documentary, Tan revisits her past life in Singapore and traces her steps through the process of creating the film. She takes a 20-year-old mystery and creates a brand new piece of art with it. Shirkers premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival where Tan won the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award, making her the second Singapore-born filmmaker to win an award at the festival. The film was later picked up by Netflix and released in the fall of 2018.

3. The Miseducation of Cameron Post - Desiree Akhavan

Desiree Akhavan is an American actress, producer, screenwriter and director who is best known for her feature film debut Appropriate Behavior (2014) and her more recent work The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018). Her films tend to center around themes of exploring one’s sexuality and the difficulties that can sometimes come along with it.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a British-American drama film based on a novel of the same name by Emily M. Danforth. The story follows the life of a young girl, Cameron Post, who is sent to a gay conversion therapy center after she is caught having a sexual encounter with a close female friend of hers. Once there, she joins forces with other “sinners” as they all struggle to survive this place that is so desperately trying to “cure” them. The film was first screened at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize, the festival’s highest honor.

4. Leave No Trace - Debra Granik

Debra Granik is an American screenwriter and director best known for her films Down to the Bone (2004), Winter’s Bone (2010) and Leave No Trace (2018). Many of her movies center around the theme of people “not fitting in” or standing out from the rest of society.

Leave No Trace is an American drama that premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and is an adaptation of the novel My Abandonment by Peter Rock. This movie centers on the life of Will and his daughter Tom as they struggle to conform to society. Will is an Iraq War veteran who suffers from PTSD, causing him to seek isolation in the forests of Portland, Oregon. He and his daughter live in a public park until they are caught and forced to adapt to societal norms, such as living in a house, having a job and interacting with other people in the community.

5. The Tale - Jennifer Fox

Jennifer Fox is an American writer, producer, cinematographer and director known for her impressive and award-winning documentary skills. She has directed and produced many films, including Beirut: The Last Home Movie (1987) and My Reincarnation (2010), which both won awards at their premiers. With her more recent film, The Tale, Fox got more intimate and vulnerable with her audience by sharing her own story.

The Tale is an American drama film that portrays Fox’s childhood sexual abuse and how it affects her later relationships. Through her mother, Jennifer discovers essays that she had written while attending an intensive horse training camp when she was only 13 years old. Her words describe a “relationship” that she had been in with a man much older than her. This prompts her to revisit the past and uncover the truth about that period in her life. This film, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and later aired on HBO in May of 2018, is a truly remarkable story of discovery and self-awakening.  

2018 gave us many well-constructed female-directed films. Here's hoping we see even more in 2019!