My Favorite Movies with Female Directors

Last time I wrote about female leads, now I’ll move to directors.

This is a weird list. I know I have a tendency to list newer movies, since the artform really does evolve, but this just seems ridiculous. First, the obvious: Apparently women just didn’t get many gigs for the longest time.

Second, these are small movies. Even smaller than the movies on most of my lists. I mean, I did have The Dark Knight on the superhero movie list, but mostly the movies I list are quite small. These you might even call obscure. Well, some of them. I feel couple of them are fairly well known.

I do have to admit that I didn’t research this very thoroughly. Most of the movies I was able to just list from memory and while I searched for movies on IMDb with the tag ‘title directed by female’, I can’t be sure that’s the right tag. For example, this tag didn’t give me The Turin Horse, which I know was co-directed by Tarr’s wife. Neither did it find one of the movies I actually have on the list, which is actually probably my favorite of these.

I did look at some lists of best movies directed by women, but those weren’t very helpful. They were interesting, though. A lot of movies I wasn’t aware were directed or co-directed by women and a lot of movies I wasn’t aware of at all, which is kind of weird, since I have often seen most movies on these kinds of lists or at least I’m aware of them.

The movies I ended up with are generally quite strange. Different takes often from first time directors, who decided to make their possibly one chance count. This is something that appeals to me.

Also, I did leave out movies that had both male and female directors.

Again, in chronological order. Mostly.

1. Sedmikrásky aka Daisies (1966)

Two young women date men in order to get them to pay their meals. This is part of their attempt to spoil the already spoiled world. They dance their way through their existence trying to figure out some sort of higher truth, but at the same time, they don’t take it too seriously.

This was banned by the communist government of Czechoslovakia and the director was forbidden from working until 1975. That’s immediately appealing to me. Such anarchism, that makes the powers that be fear this depiction of two young women, must be worth my while and it definitely is.

2. Innocence (2004) and 3. Évolution (2015)

I decided to put these together, because they are sort of sisterpieces, despite being very different in many ways. They were both directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic, the wife of Gaspar Noe and the superior director of the two. At least she doesn’t need to create artificial controversy in order to make interesting movies.

So, why are these together, exactly? They are about children of different sexes. We have girls, who are trying to break out of a weird boarding school in Innocence, and we have boys, who live on an island with their mothers and for some reason are hospitalized at a certain age.

Both are very slow, so if that’s not your thing, don’t attempt to watch these.

4. Sita Sings the Blues

I already discussed this the last time around. See here.

5. The Babadook (2014)


6. The Fits (2015)


7. The Love Witch (2016)

Like all women in fiction, the only thing Elaine wants is a man by her side. However, all the men she charms with her spells as a witch seem to be lacking. Except maybe the detective on the case of these missing men.

This was meticulously researched and reproduced to look like something from the 60s. But it’s fun. I don’t know why Elaine, as a very beautiful woman, would even need a potion or a spell to charm men, but here we are.

8. Grave aka Raw (2016)

Justine has just started her veterinary studies. She’s been raised as a strict vegetarian, but at school, she digests meat accidentally as part of a hazing ritual. That wakes something inside her and she begins to grave flesh.

I like where this movie goes. There are interesting twists here. It’s sort of a movie from the wave of new French horror, but at the same time it feels like an evolution of the genre. It deals with similar concepts, but feels more sophisticated. Not that all the other movies from that movement are bad, but some of them are very much so.

9. You Never Never Really Here (2017)

Joe is a veteran, who tracks down missing girls while trying to cope hallucinations caused by PTSD and his elderly mother. Now, he’s hired to get back the daughter of a senator, a job that’ll lead him deeper into his own personal hell.

This is an apt choice, because the direction here is so strong that it stands out. There are some very interesting choices, like when the movie distances us from the action by using CCTV footage at some point.

Interestingly, this is the only movie with a clear male lead (well, Evolution is another one, but the lead in that movie isn’t as strong as it is in many ways an ensemble).

10. Teströl és lélekröl aka On Body and Soul (2017)

A young girl and an older man discover that they share a dream in which they are a pair of deer. This dreamlike existence is a far cry from their real life as the inspector and manager of a slaughterhouse.

I do find the ending a bit problematic, because I see that kind of shit all the time in Finnish movies, but Hungarians are our brethren (interestingly enough), so I guess it’s understandable that they have a similar outlook on things. Still, it sort of works and before that this is a very interesting movie.

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