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who run the world

21 superb films that just so happen to be directed by women

For the day that’s in it.

FEMALE DIRECTORS ARE still too few and far between, rarely afforded the same opportunities as their male contemporaries. Slowly but surely, however, they are beginning to make some headway.

Let’s celebrate some for the day that’s in it, shall we?

1. Appropriate Behaviour


Directed by Desiree Akhavan

A charming-as-hell indie comedy about a bisexual woman getting over a recent break-up and faced with the prospect of coming out to her Iranian family.

Available to stream on Netflix

2. Boys Don’t Cry

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Directed by Kimberly Peirce

Oscar-winning film about the life and death of Brandon Teena, a young trans man who was raped and murdered in Nebraska in 1993.

Available to stream on Netflix

3. The Diary of a Teenage Girl

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Directed by Marielle Heller

One of the most acclaimed films of 2016, The Diary of a Teenage Girl is a coming-of-age tale set in 1970s San Francisco. Without spoiling anything, we’ll say that it’s not afraid to make the viewer uncomfortable, so might not be one to watch with your Mam.

Available to stream on Netflix

4. Paris Is Burning

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Directed by Jennie Livingston

A seminal documentary about drag ball culture in New York and the African-American, Latino, gay and trans communities in the late 1980s. A must watch.

5. Clueless

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Directed by Amy Heckerling

Amy Heckerling may not be a household name, but you sure as hell know her films. She directed Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Look Who’s Talking and, of course, Clueless, making her one of the most successful writer-directors in Hollywood history.

All together now: As if.

6. Girlhood


Directed by Liz Garbus

A powerful documentary about two teenage girls serving time in a juvenile detention centre in Maryland.

Available to watch on Netflix 

7. American Honey

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Directed by Andrea Arnold

American Honey follows a teenage runaway who sets off on a road trip across the midwest with a motley crew of other teenagers. One of the most acclaimed films of 2016, even if got snubbed at the Oscars.

When you’re finished watching it, revisit Andrea Arnold’s back catalogue, including Fish Tank.

8. Divines

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Directed by Houda Benyamina

Two teenage girls run riot and cause trouble on the outskirts of Paris. Divines was nominated for tons of awards last year, including a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.

Available to watch on Netflix 

9. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

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Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour

An exquisitely shot, exhilarating vampire movie that bills itself as “the first Iranian vampire Western”. If that doesn’t sell it you, we don’t know what will.

10. In A World

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Directed by Lake Bell

A truly delightful comedy about a woman’s attempts to break into the male-dominated voiceover industry.

11. Bridget Jones’s Diary

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Directed by Sharon Maguire

Is it a coincidence that the best romantic comedy of the 2000s is directed by a woman? We think not.

12. A League of Their Own

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Directed by Penny Marshall


Penny Marshall is a trailblazer. With Big, she became the first woman to direct a $100 million-grossing film. We have a special soft spot for A League of Their Own, though. “There’s no crying in baseball.”

13. 13th


Directed by Ava DuVernay

A powerful, enraging documentary about mass incarceration and how it disproportionately targets people of colour. (Make sure you watch Ava DuVernay’s other films, Selma and Middle of Nowhere, too.)

Available to watch on Netflix 

14. Stories We Tell

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Directed by Sarah Polley

An autobiographical documentary about director Sarah Polley unearthing family secrets and discovering who her biological father is.

15. Wayne’s World

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Directed by Penelope Spheeris

One of the greatest comedies of all time was directed by a woman. The same woman also directed The Little Rascals. Erect a statue in her honour, tbh.

16. Obvious Child



Directed by Gillian Robespierre


A sweet, funny, pro-choice film about a woman who falls pregnant after a messy one-night stand and takes the decision to have an abortion. Starring the forever luminous Jenny Slate.

17. The Kids Are All Right

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Directed by Lisa Cholodenko

Oscar-nominated film about a lesbian couple whose lives are upended when their children seek out their biological father. Touching, funny and features lots of shirtless, sweaty Mark Ruffalo.

18. Winter’s Bone

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Directed by Debra Granik

The film that launched Jennifer Lawrence as star-in-the-making. Gritty and utterly compelling.

19. The Square

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Directed by Jehane Noujaim

Oscar-nominated documentary that offers a close-up look at the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 in Tahrir Square. More relevant than ever.

Available to watch on Netflix

20. Enough Said

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Directed by Nicole Holofcener

An unbelievably charming romantic comedy starring the late, great James Gandolfini alongside Julia Louis-Dreyfus as two divorced people who unexpectedly find love. Watch this and then watch Nicole Holofcener’s other movies, Please Give, Walking and Talking, and Lovely and Amazing.

21. Citizenfour

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Directed by Laura Poitras

Arguably the most important, significant documentary made in recent years, Citizenfour is the inside story of how Edward Snowden leaked classified information from the National Security Agency and shocked the world.

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