Female Directors

A growing list of Female Directors in Drama and Documentary Feature Films.
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1.
Andrea Arnold
Actress, No 73
 
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Catherine Breillat
Catherine Breillat is a Paris based filmmaker and writer who became famous for her distinctively personal films on sexuality, gender trouble and sibling rivalry. Accused of being a "porno auteuriste", Breillat allowed for an unbiased view of sexuality and extended the language of mainstream movies. She is also a best-selling novelist and wrote her first novel...
 
4.
Lena Dunham
Writer, Girls
New Yorker Lena Dunham is the daughter of a painter, Carroll Dunham and Laurie Simmons, a designer and photographer. Dunham was educated at Oberlin College, Ohio, graduating with a creative writing degree. It was while at Oberlin that she began writing shorts and feature films. In 2009, Dunham created the web series Delusional Downtown Divas, which gained a cult following...
 
5.
Jane Campion
Writer, The Piano
Jane Campion was born in Wellington, New Zealand, and now lives in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Having graduated with a BA in Anthropology from Victoria University of Wellington in 1975, and a BA, with a painting major, at Sydney College of the Arts in 1979, she began filmmaking in the early 1980s...
 
6.
Kathryn Bigelow
Director, The Hurt Locker
A very talented painter, Kathryn spent two years at the San Francisco Art Institute. At 20, she won a scholarship to the Whitney Museum's Independent Study Program. She was given a studio in a former Offtrack Betting building, literally in an old bank vault, where she made art and waited to be critiqued by people like Richard Serra...
 
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Sofia Coppola
Writer, Somewhere
Sofia Coppola was born on May 14, 1971 in New York City, New York, USA as Sofia Carmina Coppola. She is a director, known for Somewhere, Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette. She has been married to Thomas Mars since August 27, 2011. They have two children. She was previously married to Spike Jonze.
 
11.
Miranda July
Filmmaker Magazine rated her #1 in their "25 New Faces of Indie Film" in 2004! She is a performance artist and published short story writer. Since becoming a filmmaker, her debut feature, Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005) has won several film awards. Daughter of Lindy Hough and Richard Grossinger, writers and publishers who founded North Atlantic Books.
 
13.
Diablo Cody
Writer, Juno
Diablo Cody is originally from Chicago, Illinois, and moved to Minnesota to live with her Internet boyfriend, Jonny who later became her husband. While there, she decided on a whim to take up stripping as a hobby of sorts. She was working at an ad agency and got a promotion. The job wore her ragged and was something she did not particularly care for...
 
14.
Valerie Faris
Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris have built an impressive body of work by perpetually seeking innovative projects in a variety of mediums. After introducing bands such as REM and The Red Hot Chili Peppers on their ground breaking MTV show The Cutting Edge, Jonathan and Valerie continued to work in music television directing music videos and documentaries for bands such as The Smashing Pumpkins...
 
15.
Penny Marshall
Penny Marshall was born Carole Penny Marshall in the Bronx, New York, on October 15, 1943. The Libra is 5' 6 1/2", with brown hair and green eyes. She is the daughter of Marjorie (Ward), a tap dance teacher, and Anthony "Tony" Marshall, an industrial film director. She is the younger sister of filmmakers Garry Marshall and Ronny Hallin...
 
16.
Nora Ephron
Nora Ephron was educated at Wellesley College, Massachusetts. She was an acclaimed essayist (Crazy Salad 1975), novelist (Heartburn 1983), and had written screenplays for several popular films, all featuring strong female characters, such as anti-nuclear activist Karen Silkwood (Silkwood, co-written...
 
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Ann Hui
Director, Tou ze
Born in China in 1947, Ann Hui moved to Hong Kong when whe was still in her youth. After graduating in English and Comparative Litereature from Hong Kong University, whe spent two years at London Film School. Returning to Hong Kong, she worked as an assistant to director King Hu before joining TVB to direct drama series and short documentaries...
 
21.
Patty Jenkins
Director, Monster
Patty Jenkins is a writer/director best known for her debut feature Monster, based on the life of convicted serial killer Aileen Wuornos, helming the pilot episode of AMC's hit show The Killing and as the director of the upcoming Wonder Woman for Warner Brothers. Patty began her career as a painter at The Cooper Union in New York City...
 
22.
Amy Heckerling
Writer, Clueless
Amy Heckerling studied Film and TV at New York University and got a Masters Degree in Film from The American Film Institute. Despite this education she couldn't get a break in Hollywood. However, in 1982, she made Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and people started to take notice. In 1987, while Amy was pregnant, she got the idea for Look Who's Talking...
 
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Deepa Mehta
Director, Water
Deepa Mehta is a transnational artist and a screenwriter, director, and producer whose work has been called "courageous", "provocative" and "breathtaking". Her visually lush and emotionally resonating films have played at every major international film festival; receiving numerous awards and accolades...
 
28.
Julie Taymor
Julie Taymor is an Academy Award-nominated director, known for such films as Frida and Across the Universe. She was born on December 15, 1952, in Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. Her father, Melvin Lester Taymor, was a gynecologist. Her mother, Elizabeth Bernstein, was a teacher of political science...
 
29.
Phyllida Lloyd
Director, Mamma Mia!
Leading British theatre director, particularly praised for her work in opera.
 
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Dee Rees
Director, Bessie
 
35.
Mia Hansen-Løve
Cinema came into Mia Hansen-Løve's life when she was eighteen, as Olivier Assayas made her start as an actress in Late August, Early September. Two years later, he gave her the part of "Aline" in his Les destinées. Their artistic collaboration was coupled by a union in real life, Mia and Olivier becoming life companions...
 
36.
Haifaa Al-Mansour
Director, Wadjda
Haifaa Al Mansour is the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia and is regarded as one of the most significant cinematic figures in the Kingdom. She finished her bachelor's degree in Literature at the American University in Cairo and completed a Master's degree in Directing and Film Studies from the University of Sydney...
 
37.
Sarah Polley
Sarah Polley is an actress and director renowned in her native Canada for her political activism. Blessed with an extremely expressive face that enables directors to minimize dialog due to her uncanny ability to suggest a character's thoughts, Polley has become a favorite of critics for her sensitive portraits of wounded and conflicted young women in independent films...
 
38.
Ava DuVernay
Producer, Selma
A filmmaker, marketer and film distributor, Ava DuVernay made her feature film debut with the documentary This in the Life (2008), a history on hip hop movement that flourished in Los Angeles in the 1990's. This was followed by series of television music documentaries which included My Mic Sounds Nice (2010) which aired on BET...
 
39.
Sally Potter
Director, Orlando
Sally Potter made her first 8mm film aged fourteen. She has since written and directed seven feature films, as well as many short films (including THRILLER and PLAY) and a television series, and has directed opera (Carmen for the ENO in 2007) and other live work. Her background is in choreography, music...
 
41.
Margarethe von Trotta
Director, Hannah Arendt
Margarethe von Trotta was born in Berlin in 1942. In the 1960s she moved to Paris where she worked for film collectives, collaborating on scripts and co-directing short films. She also pursued an acclaimed acting career, starring in films by well known German directors such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Volker Schlöndorff...
 
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Gurinder Chadha
Gurinder Chadha was born in Kenya, and grew up in Southall, London, England. She began her career as a news reporter with BBC Radio, directed several award winning documentaries for the BBC, and began an alliance with the British Film Institute (BFI) and Channel Four. In 1990, Chadha set up her own production company: Umbi Films.
 
49.
Penelope Spheeris
Director, Wayne's World
Spheeris is often referred to as a 'rock 'n roll anthropologist'. In 1974 she formed the first Los Angeles music video production company, ROCK 'N REEL. She concluded her music video work with the Grammy-nominated, "Bohemian Rhapsody" video for "Wayne's World". Spheeris' feature film debut was the 1979 documentary on the Los Angeles punk scene...
 
50.
Valeria Golino
Actress, Rain Man
The second child of an Italian germanist and a Greek painter, Valeria Golino grew up in Naples until her parents parted. After three years in Athens with her mother and another three in Naples with her father, she began to work as a model. She left high school after her first movie and didn't study performing arts at all...
 
51.
Amma Asante
Director, Belle
Amma Asante is a screenwriter and director Known for Belle, and A Way of Life. . She is a former child actress who began her writing career at the age of 23 with a script deals from both Channel 4 in the UK and BBC. Her first movie, A Way of Life which she wrote and directed won her numerous awards. Both in the UK and Internationally.
 
52.
Kristen Wiig
Actress, The Martian
Kristen Carroll Wiig was born on August 22, 1973 in Canandaigua, New York, to Laurie J. (Johnston), an artist, and Jon J. Wiig, a lake marina manager. She is of Norwegian (from her paternal grandfather), Irish, English, and Scottish descent. The family moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, before settling in the Rochester...
 
53.
Lexi Alexander
A former World Karate and Kickboxing Champion, Lexi Alexander found her calling to become a filmmaker while traveling around the world competing and teaching martial arts seminars. Born in Mannheim, Germany, Lexi dreamed of eventually moving to Hollywood and made it a point to attend every karate tournament that took place in the United States...
 
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Lisa Cholodenko
Lisa Cholodenko earned an MFA at Columbia University Film School where she made an award-winning short film Dinner Party (1997) Her feature High Art (1998) won the National Society of Film Critics award for Ally Sheedy's performance and The Waldo Salt Screenwriting award at Sundance. Both "High Art" and Laurel Canyon (2002) premiered at Cannes Director's Fortnight.
 
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Kelly Reichardt
Director, Wendy and Lucy
Kelly Reichardt was born and raised in Miami-Dade Country, Florida, to a family of police officers. She had an interest in photography from a very young age. She started by using her father's camera, which he used for photographing crime scenes. She went to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston...
 
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Aurora Fearnley
Director, Pulsar
Aurora is an award winning director and actor with ten years professional experience. A visual storyteller inspired by science, myths and psychology. She graduated with a First BA Degree from The Northern Film School. In Leeds she started company Little Northern Light and co-founded Production Company Left Eye Blind...
 
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Cate Shortland
Director, Lore
 
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Alison Klayman
The New York Times' chief film critics A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis named Alison Klayman one of the "20 Directors to Watch" on 2013 list of rising international filmmaking talents under 40. Alison's debut feature documentary, "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry", was shortlisted for an Academy Award and earned Alison a Director's Guild of America nomination...
 
76.
Angelina Jolie Pitt
Actress, Maleficent
Angelina Jolie is an Oscar-winning actress who became popular after playing the title role in the "Lara Croft" blockbuster movies, as well as Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Wanted, Salt and Maleficent. Off-screen, Jolie has become prominently involved in international charity projects, especially those involving refugees...
 
77.
Jennifer Westfeldt
Jennifer is an American actress and filmmaker, who is perhaps best known for writing and starring in the indie hits, Kissing Jessica Stein and Friends with Kids. A graduate from Yale University, Jennifer started her career as a New York-based theater actor, starring in over 25 off-Broadway and regional productions...
 
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Gina Prince-Bythewood
Gina Prince-Bythewood wrote and directed the widely acclaimed feature film Love & Basketball which premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. She won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature and a Humanitas Prize for her work on the film. Her other directing credits include the HBO film Disappearing Acts...
 
83.
Louise Archambault
Director, Gabrielle
Louise Archambault holds a Master's Degree in Fine Arts from Concordia University in Montréal. Her first film, Atomic Saké (1999), attracted attention and toured the international festival circuit, earning the 2000 Jutra for Best Short Film as well as Best Film at the Festival delle Donne in Turin, Italy. In 2002, Louise directed her second short, Mensonges...
 
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Malgorzata Szumowska
Director, W imie...
One of the most prominent Polish directors of today, Malgorzata Szumowska was born in Kraków in 1973. She's been directing, writing and producing feature and documentary films. Her movies have received many awards, for example Silver Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival for "33 Scenes from Life" or Teddy Award at the Berlinale for "In the Name of...
 
91.
Mia Hansen-Løve
Cinema came into Mia Hansen-Løve's life when she was eighteen, as Olivier Assayas made her start as an actress in Late August, Early September. Two years later, he gave her the part of "Aline" in his Les destinées. Their artistic collaboration was coupled by a union in real life, Mia and Olivier becoming life companions...
 
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98.
Natalia Leite
Director, Bare
 
99.
Reed Morano
Cinematographer, Frozen River
 
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