The Film Fatales, a collective of women indie directors, put together a list of must-see movies made by women.
Founded in 2013 by "I Believe in Unicorns" director Leah Meyerhoff, Film Fatales is a bicoastal collective of women filmmakers who mentor and collaborate in an indie space that's far removed from the sexist world of Hollywood—and therefore all the more likely to make impact.
“At a time when audiences are hungry for a diversity of stories on screen, we’ve compiled a list of recent films directed by women that everyone should see, as well as a selection of older titles which continue to inspire us,” said Film Fatales founder Leah Meyerhoff, who shared the following list with Bitch Media.
Film Fatales in NY and LA include Meyerhoff, Eliza Hittman, Ry Russo Young, Stewart Thorndike, Marielle Heller, Leslye Headland, Sasha Gordon, Jess Weixler and Josephine Decker. Here are their picks for the best films made by women, including "Appropriate Behavior," "Diary of a Teenage Girl," "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night," "Pariah," "Selma," and classics from Agnes Varda, Claire Denis, Kathryn Bigelow and Lynne Ramsay.
- Recent Women-Directed Films That Everyone Should See (A-Z)
- Women-Directed Films That Inspired the Work of Film Fatales (A-Z)
Studies show that half of all film school graduates are women, yet only 5% of them are working Hollywood directors. This is not only a problem in Hollywood, but everywhere in the world. There’s prejudice and difficulties akin to them, common stories of declined financing help and even production interruptions due to certain chosen themes and subjects in their work.
There are exceptions to the rule that are forgotten, and others that are now breaking through. Although many who are active today seek refuge in independent filmmaking, TV and online media, they are – increasingly so – receiving more attention. The current list gathers some of the most prominent female filmmakers in the history of film, and the movies that made them so inspiring.
It’s been a big few years for lesbian and gay movies and queer-themed films. In 2013, Blue is the Warmest Color won the Palm D’or at Cannes; in 2016, Carol earned six Oscar nominations; just a year later, for the first time in history, an LGBT film took home Best Picture. That movie was Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, and in 2018 Call Me By Your Name almost made it two in a row for gay-themed movies at the Academy Awards, earning a Best Picture nomination. This March, Twentieth Century Fox put out Love, Simon, the first mainstream, wide-release teenage rom-com to focus on a gay character. And the critics did indeed love it.
All of these films stand on the shoulders of other LGBT films that have come before. Our list of the 150 Best LGBT Movies of All Time stretches back almost 90 years to the pioneering German film, Mädchen in Uniform, which was subsequently banned by the Nazis, and crosses multiple continents, cultures, and genres. There are broad American comedies (The Birdcage), artful Korean crime dramas (The Handmaiden), groundbreaking indies (Tangerine), and landmark documentaries (Paris Is Burning). To be considered for the list, a movie had to prominently feature gay, lesbian, trans, or queer characters; concern itself centrally with LGBT themes; present its LGBT characters in a fair and realistic light; and/or be seen as a touchpoint in the evolution of queer cinema. The final list was culled from a longlist of hundreds, after the films were ranked according to the Adjusted Tomatometer, which acts as a kind of inflation adjustment, taking into consideration the Tomatometer score, as well as the number of reviews a film received relative to the average number of reviews for films in the same year it was released.
We did not include miniseries, which left out seminal works like Angels in America. And we recognize that some of the films in the list will re-ignite healthy debates that have been fixtures of discussion around LGBT films — straight actors playing gay characters, cis actors playing trans characters (an issue that flared up again around the upcoming film, Girl, at this year’s Cannes Film Festival), and the historical dominance of white male perspectives. We’d encourage those debates to continue, respectfully, in the comments section below. (And speaking of comments: yes, we know that But I’m a Cheerleader is missing — we love it too! — but it’s Rotten, at 35%, so… blame the critics.) For now, join us as we celebrate Pride, and the work of hundreds of filmmakers whose talents and risks have opened up the possibilities of cinema.
While we were celebrating Pride 2018, we had the cast of Netflix’s Queer Eye into Rotten Tomatoes HQ to talk about their favorite LGBT movies: check out the Fab Five’s five favorite LGBT movies.
A list that will be updated as I conquer my life long quest: watch every "Lesbian Movie" ever produced.
I'll see you on the other side.
*Movies with Queer Women; that includes lesbians, bisexuals, pansexuals, transgender women and everything in between. Representation matters.
*Movies throughout history that might have an explicit or implicit queer story line.
52 Films by Women is a movement launched by Women in Film Los Angeles in 2015 to get more people watching films directed by women.
Followers—including many here on Letterboxd—pledge to watch (at least) a film a week directed by a woman.
WIF’s Executive Director Kirsten Schaffer made this primer list of 11 unforgettable films exclusively for Letterboxd.
Read her accompanying Q&A: