8 Female Directors You Should Know

I spent this Saturday in the company of some brilliantly interesting people at the Rocky Horror Picture Show in Dublin’s Sugar Club- When it comes around again you most definitely must attend! At this event I found myself talking to a brilliant young woman about feminism (as you do after a few cocktails), she is a film student and made an excellent point about the lack of female directors and how that had sparked her interest in feminism. This got me thinking and I’m ashamed to say when I thought about it I couldn’t name a single female director off the top of my head. Sure all the big name, iconic male directors came to mind and not one single female director.

So inspired by a conversation with the lovely Lauren I have compiled a list of Female Directors that I love and you should know!

1. Ileen Chaiken

” We’ve been so starved for representation- and yes gay men have also been underrepresented, but it just doesn’t  begin to compare to the invisibility of lesbians in the world up until recently.”

Ilene is an American television producer, director, writer, and founder of Little Chicken Productions. She is best known as being the co-creator, writer and executive producer of the television series The L Word. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must watch. The L Word is an American/Canadian co-production television drama series portraying the lives of a group of lesbian, bisexual, straight and transgender people and their friends, connections, family and lovers in the trendy Greater Los Angeles, California city of West Hollywood. I love the L word, sure there are arguments to be made about the “types” of women represented in the programme but there is no denying it’s impact on putting Lesbian culture into the mainstream.

2. Diablo Cody 

“I have never been an ambitious person, and my participation in this industry is a fluke, but only male writers can afford to be coy and self-deprecating.”

Diablo Cody, is an American screenwriter, producer and director. She first became known for her candid chronicling of her year as a stripper in her “The Pussy Ranch” blog and in her memoir Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper. Following on from that she wrote and directed her debut script Juno. Telling the story of a pregnant teenager named Juno (played by Ellen Page). Juno is as brilliant as it is poignant and funny.  Juno went on to win awards such as the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, the BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay, the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay and the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay.

3. Lena Dunham 

Of all the women on this list, Lena Dunham is by far the youngest and least experienced. And yet, at only 28, she is a force to be reckoned with!  She already has one smart, entertaining, micro-budget movie under her belt, Tiny Furniture – which she wrote, directed, and starred in, winning a Best First Screenplay nod at the Independent Spirit Awards. Now, all signs point to a long, successful career: Girls has become staple viewing for young women everywhere. With a new book too she shows no sign of stopping anytime soon and for that we can rejoice.

4. Nora Ephron 

“I try to write parts for women that are as complicated and interesting as women actually are.”

Ephron is best known for her romantic comedies and was nominated three times for the Academy Award for Best Writing: for Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally…, and Sleepless in Seattle. She won a BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay for When Harry Met Sally.  Her last film was Julie & Julia.She also co-authored the Drama Desk Award–winning theatrical production Love, Loss, and What I Wore. In 2013, she received a posthumous Tony Award nomination for Best Play for her play Lucky Guy. Ok, so it’s not a movie but her book “I feel  bad about my neck and other thoughts on being a woman” is hilarious and thought provoking- a body image must read.

5. Sofia Coppola

“You’re considered superficial and silly if you are interested in fashion, but I think you can be substantial and still be interested in frivolity.”

 Sofia is an American screenwriter, director, producer and actress. In 2003, she received the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Lost in Translation, and became the third woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director. In 2010, with Somewhere, she became the first American woman (and fourth American filmmaker) to win the Golden Lion, the top prize at the Venice Film Festival. Some of her movies in my favourites include The virgin suicides, Marie Antoinette, Lost in Translation and she also directed the video for the White Stripes I just don’t know what to do with myself. She is currently working on a production of The little mermaid which I am quite excited about (well more so for Ursula but still excited nonetheless)

6. Lisa Cholodenko

“It’s really important to know not to panic, it’s all going to come together; you’ve just got to keep pushing forward.”

Lisa directed the understandingly brilliant The kids are alright” and has been involved in some of my favourites including The L word, Boyz n the hood, Six feet under and Hung. “The Kids Are All Right” earned Lisa Cholodenko an Oscar nomination for writing and elevated her into the limelight. For the past decade, Cholodenko has been carving out a solid career of doing (seemingly) exactly what she wants to do: bouncing between indie flicks and one-off television episodes. For someone striving to have artistic integrity in the the movie business, it’s the perfect setup.

7. Mary Harron

“All women’s history is hidden to some degree.”

Canadian writer and director Mary Harron first made an impact on the world of American independent cinema with her 1996 feature directorial debut I Shot Andy Warhol. The widely acclaimed film, which detailed the short, strange life of S.C.U.M Manifesto author Valerie Solanas, earned both an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Film and a Special Jury Award for star Lili Taylor at the 1996 Sundance Festival. Harron was the first writer to interview the Sex Pistols for an American publication. She also worked for a number of British publications, including New Musical Express, for which she wrote a history of the Velvet Underground, and Melody Maker, for which she wrote a detailed history of Andy Warhol and the Factory.  Some of her most famous works include: The Notorious Bettie Page, The Moth Diaries, American Psycho and most recently The Anna Nicole Story.

 8.Dr. Anna Arrowsmith aka Anna Span

“There were a couple of things that I wanted to get across: men are just as gendered, they have things they don’t have a choice about; and the assumption that if you’re interested in gender equality, you’re left wing, that feminists are all socialists.”

Possibly the most controversial director on the list. Anna Arrowsmith works under the pseudonym Anna Span, is an English pornographic film director. She makes frequent public appearances, speaking on sex, pornography and feminism, though not without significant opposition from feminists. Her films focus on women enjoying sex including lesbian sex and heterosexual sex, with some bisexual sex. Other themes include sex toys, everyday objects (such as a chocolate bar or orange) being used as sex aids, threesomes, group sex and gang bangs. Role playing and fantasy are also common. Sometimes a character from one of her films appears in another. There is a big emphasis on reality both in script and actor performances. In her films she includes a much higher than average percentage of shots which look at the men, which she has termed ‘female point of view’ shots. In a world where male centered pornography is the dominant Anna Span provides a much needed alternative.

Sure this list isn’t exhaustive, there are many more female directors I could have included, that is where google is your friend dear readers. What struck me most of all is that not only are there very few female directors who “make it” but there are even few female directors of colour. In the words of Lilly Allen It’s hard out here for a bitch- even harder if your a bitch in the film industry. So here’s hoping with the Leena Dunhams and the Lauren’s of the world this will change. I for one am all for it because the more women out there telling stories and sharing their skills the better.

Do share some of your favourites.

If you would like to support an Irish Female Director then Ms. Lauren will be showing her Documentary on Tuesday the 11th of November! I’ll be there, will you?? 

For more info check out the link:






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