Female directors to watch

by liginhamf | created - 19 Aug 2017 | updated - 11 months ago | Public

1. 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...

2. Sofia Coppola

Director | Lost in Translation

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 (2010), Lost in Translation (2003) and Marie Antoinette (2006). She has been married to Thomas Mars since August 27, 2011. They have two children. She was ...

3. Ava DuVernay

Producer | Selma

A director, producer, writer, 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 ...

4. Lena Dunham

Writer | Tiny Furniture

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 ...

5. Claire Denis

Director | Beau travail

Claire Denis was born on April 21, 1946 in Paris, France. She is a director and writer, known for Beau travail (1999), High Life (2018) and 35 Shots of Rum (2008).

6. Anna Muylaert

Writer | Que Horas Ela Volta?

Anna Muylaert was born on April 21, 1964 in São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil. She is a writer and director, known for The Second Mother (2015), Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (2009) and Durval Records (2002).

7. Lucía Puenzo

Writer | XXY

Lucía Puenzo was born on November 28, 1976 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is a writer and director, known for XXY (2007), The German Doctor (2013) and The Fish Child (2009).

8. Agnès Varda

Director | Sans toit ni loi

Agnès Varda was born on May 30, 1928 in Brussels, Belgium as Arlette Varda. She was a director and writer, known for Vagabond (1985), Faces Places (2017) and Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962). She was married to Jacques Demy. She died on March 29, 2019 in Paris, France.

9. Lucrecia Martel

Director | La mujer sin cabeza

Born in 1966 in Salta in the North of Argentina,Lucrecia Martel settled down in Buenos Aires where she attended the ENERC (National Film School). She started by directing a few shorts among which Dead King (1995), which garnered several awards in the international film festival circuit. From 1995 to...

10. Reed Morano

Director | The Handmaid's Tale

Reed Morano was born on April 15, 1977 in Omaha, Nebraska, USA. She is known for directing and executive producing the pilot and episodes 1 & 2 of The Handmaid's Tale (2017) as well as directing the feature film, Meadowland (2015). As a cinematographer, Reed is known for her work on Lemonade (2016)...

11. Jenji Kohan

Writer | Orange Is the New Black

Jenji Kohan was born on July 5, 1969 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Jenji Leslie Kohan. She is a writer and producer, known for Orange Is the New Black (2013), Weeds (2005) and Tracey Takes On... (1996). She has been married to Christopher Noxon since 1997. They have three children.

12. Petra Costa

Director | Olmo & the Seagull

Petra Costa is a director and writer, known for Olmo & the Seagull (2015), Undertow Eyes (2009) and Elena (2012).

13. Shonda Rhimes

Writer | Grey's Anatomy

Shonda Rhimes was born on January 13, 1970 in Chicago, Illinois, USA as Shonda Lynn Rhimes. She is a writer and producer, known for Grey's Anatomy (2005), Scandal (2012) and Crossroads (2002).

14. 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 ...

15. Laís Bodanzky

Director | Chega de Saudade

Laís Bodanzky made her directorial debut with the short film Red Card, about a girl surrounded by boys discovering her sexuality. This award-winning short was selected for the New York Film Festival in 1995.

She was recognized as a filmmaker with the feature film Brainstorm (2001), a joint ...

16. Chantal Akerman

Director | Je, tu, il, elle

Chantal Akerman was born on June 6, 1950 in Brussels, Belgium as Chantal Anne Akerman. She was a director and writer, known for Je Tu Il Elle (1974), The Meetings of Anna (1978) and A Couch in New York (1996). She was married to Sonia Wieder-Atherton. She died on October 5, 2015 in Paris, France.

17. Kimberly Peirce

Director | Boys Don't Cry

Kimberly Peirce was born on September 8, 1967 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA. She is a director and writer, known for Boys Don't Cry (1999), Stop-Loss (2008) and Carrie (2013).

18. Greta Gerwig

Writer | Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig is an American actress, playwright, screenwriter, and director. She has collaborated with Noah Baumbach on several films, including Greenberg (2010), Frances Ha (2012), for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination, and Mistress America (2015). Gerwig made her solo directorial debut ...

19. Penelope Spheeris

Director | Suburbia

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 ...

20. 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 ...

21. Dee Rees

Director | Mudbound

Writer/Director Dee Rees is an alumna of New York University's graduate film program and a Sundance Screenwriting & Directing Lab Fellow.

In 2018, Dee became the first Black woman nominated for an Oscar in the Best Adapted Screenplay category for her highly-acclaimed film Mudbound (2017). The film, ...

22. Céline Sciamma

Writer | Tomboy

Céline Sciamma was born on November 12, 1980 in Pontoise, Val-d'Oise, France. She is a writer and director, known for Tomboy (2011), Water Lilies (2007) and Girlhood (2014).

23. Ida Lupino

Actress | High Sierra

Ida was born in London to a show business family. In 1933, her mother brought Ida with her to an audition and Ida got the part her mother wanted. The picture was Her First Affaire (1932). Ida, a bleached blonde, came to Hollywood in 1934 and played small and insignificant parts. Peter Ibbetson (...

24. Sarah Polley

Actress | The Sweet Hereafter

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 ...

25. Teresa Villaverde

Director | Três Irmãos

Teresa Villaverde was born on May 18, 1966 in Lisbon, Portugal as Teresa Villaverde Cabral. She is a director and writer, known for Two Brothers, My Sister (1994), Colo (2017) and Trance (2006).

26. Deniz Gamze Ergüven

Director | Mustang

In 2011 Ergüven was invited to attend the Cannes Film Festivals Atelier to help develop her project, The Kings. While there she met fellow director Alice Winocour who was there to develop her first feature film Augustine. After Ergüven was unable to find financing for her film Winocour suggested ...

27. Suzana Amaral

Director | A Hora da Estrela

Suzana Amaral was born in 1932. She is a director and writer, known for Hour of the Star (1985), Uma Vida em Segredo (2001) and Hotel Atlântico (2009).

28. 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, ...

29. Vera Chytilová

Director | Dedictví aneb Kurvahosigutntag

Vera Chytilová was born on February 2, 1929, in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic). She studied philosophy and architecture in Brno for two years, then worked as a technical draftsman, a designer, a fashion model, a photo re-toucher, then worked as a clapper girl for Barrandov Film ...

30. Catherine Breillat

Writer | À ma soeur!

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....

31. Aurora Guerrero

Director | Mosquita y Mari

Aurora Guerrero is a director and writer, known for Mosquita y Mari (2012), Los Valientes and Pandora's (2008).

32. Nadine Labaki

Actress | Et maintenant on va où?

Nadine Labaki was born on February 18, 1974 in Beirut, Lebanon. She is an actress and writer, known for Where Do We Go Now? (2011), Caramel (2007) and Capernaum (2018). She has been married to Khaled Mouzanar since October 2007.

33. Samira Makhmalbaf

Director | Panj é asr

Samira Makhmalbaf Filmmaker

Born on February 15,1980 in Tehran. At the age of eight, she played in "The Cyclist" directed by her father, Mohsen Makhmalbaf the celebrated Iranian filmmaker.

At the age of 17, she directed her first feature titled "The Apple" and She went on to become the youngest ...

34. Marjane Satrapi

Director | Persepolis

Marjane Satrapi was born on November 22, 1969 in Rasht, Iran. She is a director and actress, known for Persepolis (2007), The Voices (2014) and Chicken with Plums (2011). She is married to Mattias Ripa. She was previously married to Reza.

35. Shirin Neshat

Director | Zanan-e bedun-e mardan

Shirin Neshat was born on March 26, 1957 in Ghazvin, Iran. She is a director and actress, known for Women Without Men (2009), Looking for Oum Kulthum (2017) and Rapture (1999).

36. Helena Solberg

Director | Vida de Menina

Helena Solberg was born in 1942 in São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil. She is a director and assistant director, known for Vida de Menina (2003), Double Day (1976) and Palavra (en)cantada (2008).

37. Marília Rocha

Director | A Cidade onde Envelheço

Marília Rocha is a director and cinematographer, known for Where I Grow Old (2016), Descaminhos (2007) and Aboio (2005).

38. Lynne Ramsay

Director | You Were Never Really Here

Lynne Ramsay was born on December 5, 1969 in Glasgow, Strathclyde, Scotland. She is a director and writer, known for You Were Never Really Here (2017), We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) and Morvern Callar (2002). She was previously married to Rory Stewart Kinnear.

39. Ildikó Enyedi

Director | Teströl és lélekröl

Ildikó Enyedi was born on November 15, 1955 in Budapest, Hungary. She is a director and writer, known for On Body and Soul (2017), Simon, the Magician (1999) and My Twentieth Century (1989).

40. Mai Zetterling

Actress | The Witches

Mai Zetterling was born in Sweden in 1925, and lived briefly in Australia while still a child. She's known as a director and actor and trained on the Stockholm repertory stage, she began appearing in war-era films starting in her teens. Following her debut in Lasse Maja (1941), she made quite an ...

41. Athina Rachel Tsangari

Producer | Attenberg

Athina Rachel Tsangari was born on April 2, 1966 in Athens, Greece. She is a producer and director, known for Attenberg (2010), Chevalier (2015) and The Slow Business of Going (2000).

42. Alice Guy

Director | Shadows of the Moulin Rouge

Generally considered to be the world's first female director, French-born Alice Guy entered the film business as a secretary at Gaumont-Paris in 1896. The next year Gaumont changed from manufacturing cameras to producing movies, and Guy became one of its first film directors. She impressed the the ...

43. Maya Deren

Director | Meshes of the Afternoon

Maya Deren came to the USA in 1922 as Eleanora Derenkowsky. Together with her father, a psychiatrist, and her mother, an artist, she fled the pogroms against Russian Jews. She studied journalism and political science in at Syracuse University in New York, finishing her BA at NYU in June 1936 and ...



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