A Year With Women: What I Learned Only Watching Films Directed By Women in 2015

So it is the first day of 2016,  which means we’ve bid adieu to 2015. For me, that means I’ve completed A Year With Women. During the entire year of 2015, all the films I watched – from new releases, new-to-me, and re-watches – were directed or co-directed by women, with the exception of the TCM Classic Film Festival (it was impossible!) and Noirvember (all films watched had female writers). Normally, I would write this post and talk about a few films I really loved from the year and maybe a theme I noticed in my viewing habits. This year that theme is pretty obvious: women! I’ve kept pretty good notes, so after the cut I’m going to go through the year, both in terms of what I watched, as well as the big news stories related to female directors in 2015. I’m also going to talk a bit about my favorite new-to-me film of the year, because some traditions must stand!


Here are some nicely curated versions of all the films I watched in 2015:

The Big List

(Minus TCMFF/Noirvember titles. To see those, go here):

  1. (January) Mississippi Masala
  2. Me and You and Everyone We Know
  3. I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing
  4. Your Sister’s Sister
  5. Variety (1983)
  6. In A World. . .
  7. Efter brylluppet (After The Wedding)
  8. The Guilt Trip
  9. The Lifeguard (2013)
  10. Miss Julie (2014)
  11. Hanging Up
  12. Cristo Rey
  13. I Will Follow
  14. Bowl of Pork
  15. Me and My Moulton
  16. Dreaming Los Angeles
  17. The Awakening (2011 short)
  18. The Haircut
  19. Symphony No. 42
  20. Dawn
  21. Big Money!
  22. The Bigger Picture
  23. The Apothecary
  24. Gas Food Lodging
  25. Little Accidents
  26. Appropriate Behavior
  27. Musical Chairs
  28. Lore
  29. Song One
  30. The Notorious Bettie Page
  31. With This Ring
  32. Viaggio sola (A Five Star Life)
  33. Phat Girlz
  34. Temblor
  35. (February) Frida
  36. Respire
  37. Skinship
  38. The Dish & the Spoon
  39. Bande de filles (Girlhood)
  40. Jupiter Ascending
  41. In The Morning
  42. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
  43. Vital Signs (1990)
  44. Fifty Shades of Grey
  45. Overnight
  46. Just Another Girl on the I.R.T
  47. Nuit #1
  48. La hija natural
  49. McFarland, USA
  50. Tanta agua
  51. The Watermelon Woman
  52. Monster
  53. Girlfight
  54. Ana Maria in Novela Land
  55. Lords of Dogtown
  56. (March) Mansfield Park (1999)
  57. Carolina
  58. And While We Were Here
  59. Johnny Dangerously
  60. October Gale
  61. Elles
  62. And Then There Was You
  63. La Pointe-Courte
  64. Mikey and Nicky
  65. Last Night
  66. Camilla
  67. Ung flukt
  68. Entre nos
  69. Arcadia
  70. Me Myself I
  71. Woo
  72. Amour Fou
  73. Gloriana
  74. Pink and Blue
  75. Unrelated
  76. Wildflowers
  77. Happy End?!
  78. Pumzi
  79. (April) She’s Lost Control
  80. Eve’s Bayou
  81. It Felt Like Love
  82. L!fe Happens
  83. Bound
  84. Life Partners
  85. The Riot Club
  86. Lovely & Amazing
  87. The Jane Austen Book Club
  88. An Angel at My Table
  89. The Sisterhood of Night
  90. Austenland
  91. Aquamarine
  92. Me Without You
  93. Caprice
  94. (May) Ride
  95. Afternoon Delight
  96. Grdzeli nateli dgeebi (In Bloom)
  97. Lemale et ha’halal (Fill The Void)
  98. Herbie: Fully Loaded
  99. The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
  100. Things We Lost in the Fire
  101. Every Secret Thing
  102. Bessie
  103. Things Behind The Sun
  104. Slums of Beverly Hills
  105. Peeples
  106. The Secret Life of Bees
  107. Jeg er din (I Am Yours)
  108. Wuthering Heights (2011)
  109. L’opéra-mouffe
  110. Better Than Chocolate
  111. Welcome to Me
  112. Wanda
  113. Tank Girl
  114. Archipelago
  115. Tirez la langue, mademoiselle (Miss and the Doctors)
  116. Krylya (Wings)
  117. Lick the Star
  118. Walking and Falling
  119. A Girl’s Own Story
  120. Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight
  121. Gemma Bovery
  122. (June) I Believe in Unicorns
  123. Skylappjenta (Little Miss Eyeflap)
  124. Go! Go! Go!
  125. Lights (1966)
  126. Glimpse of the Garden
  127. Miss Meadows
  128. The Queen of Versailles
  129. XXY
  130. Ir/Reconcilable
  131. All Over the Guy
  132. Pelo malo (Bad Hair)
  133. Majorité opprimée (Oppressed Majority)
  134. The Night and the Moment
  135. Una Hora Por Favora
  136. Always Cool
  137. Pay It Forward
  138. Madame Bovary (2015)
  139. What Happened, Miss Simone?
  140. Advantageous
  141. (July) Twitch
  142. Pasqualino Settebellezze (Seven Beauties)
  143. Jackie & Ryan
  144. How to Make an American Quilt
  145. The Loneliest Planet
  146. Sleeping with the Fishes
  147. Trash Cat
  148. Meet Me in Montenegro
  149. Serena
  150. Infinitely Polar Bear
  151. We’ve Met Before
  152. The Mary Alice Brandon File
  153. Masque
  154. Sunrise (2015)
  155. Consumed
  156. Turncoats
  157. The Groundskeeper
  158. Itty Bitty Titty Committee
  159. After Hours (1984)
  160. Arrête ou je continue (If You Don’t, I Will)
  161. Wadjda
  162. The Powder Room
  163. Muta
  164. The Woman Dress
  165. It’s Getting Late
  166. The Door
  167. Le Donne della Vucciria
  168. Spark and Light
  169. Somebody
  170. De Djess
  171. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
  172. Unexpected (2015)
  173. Washington Square
  174. Ratcatcher
  175. The Wild Party (1929)
  176. Anybody’s Woman
  177. (August) Thirteen
  178. Jenny’s Wedding
  179. Rambling Rose
  180. Stories We Tell
  181. Wendy and Lucy
  182. Alle Anderen (Everyone Else)
  183. Return to Me
  184. Una noche
  185. The Falling
  186. Girls Night Out (1988)
  187. Morvern Callar
  188. Craig’s Wife
  189. Christopher Strong
  190. Fort Tilden
  191. So You’ve Grown Attached
  192. The Diary of a Teenage Girl
  193. It’s Complicated
  194. Sudden Manhattan
  195. Bachelorette
  196. Six Years
  197. Travolti da un insolito destino nell’azzurro mare d’agosto (Swept Away… by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August)
  198. Film d’amore e d’anarchia, ovvero: stamattina alle 10, in via dei Fiori, nella nota casa di tolleranza… (Love and Anarchy)
  199. Frozen
  200. This Is My Life
  201. Endless Love (2014)
  202. (September) Dear Frankie
  203. But I’m a Cheerleader
  204. Chutney Popcorn
  205. The 24 Hour Woman
  206. Suffragette
  207. Honor Among Lovers
  208. Bella Martha (Mostly Martha)
  209. Runoff
  210. When the Day Breaks
  211. Que Horas Ela Volta? (The Second Mother)
  212. I Like It Like That
  213. Dance, Girl, Dance
  214. Muffin Top: A Love Story
  215. In the Cut
  216. The Namesake
  217. Half Wet
  218. Mythopolis
  219. The Intern
  220. Talk to Me
  221. Rue cases nègres (Sugar Cane Alley)
  222. Milh Hadha al-Bahr (Salt of This Sea)
  223. Drool
  224. (October) The Ocean Waif
  225. The Blot
  226. The Love Light
  227. Without Lying Down – Frances Marion and the Powerful Women in Hollywood
  228. La fée aux choux (The Cabbage Fairy)
  229. The Birth, the Life and the Death of Christ
  230. Canned Harmony
  231. A House Divided
  232. Falling Leaves
  233. The Red Kimono
  234. Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures of Prince Achmed)
  235. Near Dark
  236. A Night to Dismember
  237. Honeymoon (2014)
  238. Outrage
  239. First Love
  240. True Love (1989)
  241. Border Radio
  242. Big Stone Gap
  243. Kiss of the Damned
  244. Crossing Delancey
  245. A Dry White Season
  246. Mrs. Soffel
  247. Araya
  248. Portrait of Jason
  249. The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter
  250. Wrestling Ernest Hemingway
  251. Home For The Holidays
  252. Losing Ground
  253. The Oracle
  254. Humanoids From the Deep
  255. Slumber Party Massacre
  256. Sorority House Massacre
  257. Stripped To Kill
  258. Blood Diner
  259. Spookies
  260. Salaam Bombay!
  261. The Purgation
  262. Trouble Every Day
  263. (November) Miss You Already
  264. Love the Coopers
  265. Dólares de Arena (Sand Dollars)
  266. By the Sea
  267. Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict
  268. (Dec) Somewhere Only We Know
  269. Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List
  270. So Far from India
  271. India Cabaret
  272. The Laughing Club of India
  273. The Day the Mercedes Became a Hat
  274. 11’09’01 September 11: India
  275. Migration
  276. How Can It Be?
  277. The Summer of Sangaile
  278. A Very Murray Christmas
  279. Janis: Little Girl Blue
  280. Milk
  281. Dog
  282. Wasp
  283. Nénette et Boni
  284. Arthur Christmas
  285. The Wolfpack (2015)
  286. Sleeping with Other People
  287. Le meraviglie (The Wonders)
  288. The Girl in the Book
  289. Seven Women, Seven Sins
  290. Bleeding Heart
  291. Mustang
  292. A Case of You
  293. Exhibition
  294. A Christmas Melody
  295. Paris Is Burning
  296. Mixed Nuts (1994)
  297. Holy Smoke!
  298. Heart of a Dog
  299. Meadowland
  300. Le Bonheur
  301. Sans toit ni loi (Vagabond)
  302. Je Tu Il Elle
  303. Les rendez-vous d’Anna
  304. Persepolis
  305. The Ascent

For the sake of the following breakdown, this data reflects 1) first-time viewings only and 2) excludes TCMFF/Noirvember titles aka this is only films directed or co-directed by women that I watched for the first time in 2015.

1880s: 0
1890s: 1
1900s: 1
1910s: 4
1920s: 5
1930s: 4
1940s: 1
1950s: 6
1960s: 3
1970s: 10
1980s: 30
1990s: 38
2000s: 51
2010s: 151

If you’re interested in my extended thoughts on any of the above films, I definitely recommend you go watch my YouTube review of that film. Also you can ask me questions on Twitter or Tumblr!

And now, to a breakdown of the year.


The year started really strong, with me watching through several great films I’d added to my Netflix queue (NB: I didn’t even get through all the films I’d added to my Netflix queue, as I kept finding more to add, as well as all the films available on Amazon/YouTube/Hulu/etc.). Early in the year I guested on the Pulling It Together With Amanda Savage Podcast, did a radio show in Australia, was interviewed by the great Sarah Galo for The Guardian, and wrote a guest post for IndieWire’s Women & Hollywood.

The annual Celluloid Ceiling report came out, reporting that women directors only made up 7% of the 250 highest grossing films in 2014. One key thing about this report that I still feel a lot of film-goers miss is that it’s talking about BOX OFFICE. So if you as a viewer seek out more films by women – and especially support the few studio made/wide release films directed by women – YOU can help make that number bigger, by putting your money where you mouth is. This led to me posting on Twitter and Tumblr every Friday with the new films directed by women that were opening for the week. I’m going to keep doing that because it is something ordinary people can do to help move the numbers.

I discovered that the MPAA defines a “frequent movie goer” as someone who goes to at least one movie a month. If you do that math above, 7% of the top 250 films is 17 films. A small number, yes, but only 5 more films than a “frequent film goer” sees a year. What if you made the radical choice to only seek out films by women for the year? In October, Women In Film – Los Angeles launched their #52FilmsByWomen project and I urger every one of you to accept this challenge and make it a reality! Put your money where you mouth is!


Also in January the Oscar nominations came out, with a big snub for Ava DuVernay and not a single Best Picture nomination with a female lead. It was depressing to say the least. In an interview with THR, Jill Soloway said something invaluable,  “We’re not trying to be as good as men. We’re trying to create something that is specifically influenced by our femaleness. And that has a feeling that can’t be replicated by anybody except for us.”

In the New York Times, Manohla Dargis talked with Ava DuVernay, Barbra Streisand and other female directors. Meanwhile, I got into several fights with male filmmakers getting defensive about my opinions on why I think we need more female directors, especially female directors making films about women. One (male) director in particular told me it should be about skill and skill alone. While I agree I want my directors to have technical skills, what women (and minorities) bring to the art of cinema is a different life experience and world views. That is something that cannot be taught. That is something we need more of in our cinemas.


Wow that was a lot for one month, huh?

February started out with the sweetest note from Susan Seidelman (there’s a follow-up to this story in a later month!), which really made my month. She’s a director I discovered in 2014 and her work is part of why I realized I had a lot of learning to do about female directors, inspired Female Filmmaker Friday, and led to the idea of doing A Year With Women.


I then recorded my most popular video to date – on Fifty Shades of Grey. This video and my subsequent Tumblr posts breaking down how that film romanticizes abuse led to one user actually saying they hoped I got sexually assaulted, so I would know the difference. Charming. Actually, that was just about the only really terrible comment I got during this entire experiment – and it was from a woman!

I was featured on Movie Mezzanine’s Film Critic of the Week Podcast, the first of many podcasts in 2015 wherein I talked about my penchant for screencapping dicks in movies. Hey, somebody’s gotta do it!

Rebecca Keegan wrote the first of many great articles about the scarcity of female directors in Hollywood. 


On March 1st, I watched Patricia Rozema’s Mansfield Park and then subsequently watched it three more times that very week. This was my favorite film I watched in 2015. I love it so much. Where had it been all my life?! I also read the book (the ending is horrible in both and also illustrates why I prefer Edith Wharton stories to Austen stories). But, I will ship Fanny/Henry to the end of my days.


Later in the month, my mother surprised me with not one, but two Film Director Barbies! I was interviewed by ScreenQueens for International Women’s Day, and Miranda July met Agnes Varda at a Miu Miu show!


Variety published a study that proves that films featuring women are a better return on investment/make more money. People still don’t believe it!  AV Club does a top 100 films of the last decade list, only 8 films on the list are directed by women. Does this mean that women didn’t make great films in the 2000s? No. Does it mean the people who make these kinds of lists probably don’t see enough films made by women? That’s my guess.  Maria Giese published A Surprisingly Simple Solution for Female Directors, calling for radical changes at the DGA.  Criterion offered 8 films directed by women for free on Hulu for a week, the Cinematek in Sweden programmed an entire month of films directed by women, and the Cannes Film Festival announced its opening film would be directed by a woman.


I guested on the Film School Rejects Broken Projector podcast, talking about this project, my love of Nicolas Cage, and 80s cinema.  Everyone lost their shit over the Ava DuVernay Barbie, which at the time was a one of a kind doll auctioned for charity. But as we all know, in December it got released for real (and your’s truly managed to get one before it sold out – twice) LA Weekly ran a piece by Jessica P. Ogilvie called How Hollywood Keeps Women Out. In reading the comments (don’t ever do that!), both on the site and on the LA Weekly Facebook post, it’s clear that a lot of people (read: straight white cis men) refuse to see that there is a real, systematic problem. A lot of “well women don’t try hard enough” or “women just don’t want to direct” type comments. My favorite are the people who won’t believe the data even when you show them the exact numbers that are crunched. It gets really frustrating, but the more people refuse to see the problem, the more urgent it becomes to be on the side of those determined to fix it.

Lastly, my beloved cat Mr. Rochester finally lost his battle with kidney disease. It was a really dark time for me and I stopped watching films for a while because I just couldn’t find the energy. Mr. Rochester was a big part of my life, and my most dependable movie-watching partner!


But, I got back on the wagon at the beginning of May and started watching films again. THR reported about the bias in film distribution again women directed films. When I posted about it on Facebook, that same male director I mentioned earlier commented with “It’s official: I’m female!” I guess he was trying to be funny because his films don’t get picked up? I’m not really sure. But he’s a straight white dude who has worked continuously in the industry for 20+ years. I guess the chip on his should is that he’s not a household name or something. Real Talk: Just because you personally don’t feel like you have benefited from your privileged status does not mean that that privilege does not exist, nor does it mean that you are more like those who are systematically shut out. Just because you have bad luck, does not mean systematic discrimination is not real.


On May 12th, the A.C.L.U., called for an investigation into Hollywood’s sexist hiring practices. It’s front page news on the LA Times. The dam is opened, people other than cinephiles start discussing gender inequality in Hollywood, a million think pieces are born. Yet, I didn’t see many more people actually seeking out films by women. Think pieces are great. The investigation is great. But those of us on the ground have to take action as well!

Marvel courts Ava DuVernay, but she declines. It’s a big step for women directors when they are being looked at to helm big budget superhero films, but I’m really glad Ava stuck to her guns and with her integrity as an artist first and foremost.


Variety published a study about how women directors have it better in the indie film world. A lot of the 2015 films I watched last year were small, indie films. The thing about these types of films is that they usually have smaller theatrical release – sometimes just NYC/LA – but they often also are released day-and-date on VOD. This is good news! You can live anywhere in the country and watched indie gems directed by women! Often for the fraction of the cost of going to the theaters – and you can pause if you need to pee.


Ava DuVernay tweeted about my project and I fangirled real hard. I was approached by Dazed to write a feature for them on cult female filmmakers. It goes viral and is shared by the BFI and TIFF. I fangirled some more. I was interviewed by Authoright magazine and spoke with the Battleship Pretension Podcast about this project at its halfway mark.


On July 3rd, I watched my 5,000th new-to-me film ever. For such a big milestone, I chose Lina Wertmüller’s Seven Beauties. I was not disappointed. However, this  (and a few other “canonical” films I watched this year), really hit home the idea that films made by women that feature men are written about and praised far more than films by women about women. I have several thoughts on why this is, which I’ll probably expand on more on a little date.

I also watched a whole lot of short films. Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke participated in a great competition for aspiring female directors called Twilight Storytellers. These are great for fans of the Twilight universe, but it’s also wonderful to see successful female creators helping the next generation. I also watched all of Miu Miu’s Women’s Tales series (which explained by Miranda July and Agnès Varda were hanging out at a Miu Miu fashion show earlier in the year).


Little White Lies magazine had an entire issue dedicated to female directors. Starting on the last day in July and running through August, UCLA showcased the films of pioneering Hollywood director Dorothy Arzner with an amazing retrospective. I got to see most of the films they showed and it was just breathtaking.


In late July I launched a poll asking people to submit films directed by women they felt were essential. I received submissions from over 500 people, including female directors themselves like Gina Prince-Bythewood, Elisabeth Subrin, and Kasi Lemmons. After tabulating the results, and adjusting for ties, I posted a list of 103 Essential Films Directed By Women. There was some controversy over the winning film. I hit a Hollywood milestone: getting quasi-shit talked by Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere.


Also, Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema finally programed films by directed by women (Lina Wertmüller’s Swept Away and Love & Anarchy)


Barbara Ann O’Leary’s #DirectedByWomen worldwide viewing party launched. It was a wonderful few weeks on film Twitter where so many people were solely watching films by women! The BFI announced their latest issue of Sight and Sound would be dedicated to women directors. They asked people to post pictures of their favorite women directors using the hashtag #WomanWithAMovieCamera. It was beautiful. Julie Delpy spoke out against male aggression on set and why women directors aren’t allowed that luxury.


I guested (many times!) on the Flixwise Podcast. Listen to me talk about: Jeanne DielmanPoint Break, and my favorite film of all time Little Women!


Women in Hollywood – Los Angeles officially launched their #52FilmsByWomen project. Seriously guys, click the link and join the challenge! There’s a lot of great resources to help you find films. Every Tuesday and Thursday during primetime, TCM showcased Trailblazing Women in Film. Originally, I was just going to watch films I hadn’t already seen, but I got sucked in and watched almost every single film they showed. It was so much fun, especially because TCM fans used #TrailblazingWomenInFilm as they watched the films. Twice a week, for the whole month I felt like I got to share #AYearWithWomen with the greater film community. It was great to watch films I’d never seen before, but the real joy came from watching films I loved – some of which I had discovered for the first time earlier in the year – with other people and seeing their reactions (almost all positive). I also got to take over the TCM Twitter handle and live tweet Valley Girl. It was tripendicular.


Phil of Heavy Midnites programmed a three-day 8-film mini festival of horror films directed by women at the Cinefamily entitled Ladies of the 80s: A Decade of Horror. I went to all three nights. It was an amazing, immersive experience. Lastly, I guested on the Flixwise Podcast, this time talking about the most essential film directed by a woman: Amy Heckerling’s Clueless.


Vulture posted a very US-centric (and pretty white) list of female directors Hollywood should be hiring. It’s great when bigger sites and media outlets write about an issue, but it would be more helpful if they were inclusive with their lists. Ah, but then, nobody’s perfect. Early in the month I got to interview filmmaker Jessie Nelson (Corrina, Corrina, I Am Sam, Love The Coopers) for the Rotten Tomatoes podcast. Watching Corrina, Corrina is one of my earliest, fondest theater-going experiences, so this was a real treat for me. I also met director Susan Seidelman at a 35mm 30th Anniversary screening of Desperately Seeking Susan! That same week, there were three high profile films released in theaters – two of which were released wide: The 33, Love The Coopers, and By The Sea. It was estimated that there were films in more theaters directed by women that weekend than any other time in history. Although I didn’t see Mustang until December, I read this amazing interview director Deniz Gamze Ergüven did with the Laemmle Blog.

While my viewing was mostly dominated by men during Noirvember, I did guest on the Flixwise Podcast one more time to talk about Ida Lupino’s noir classics The Hitch-hiker and The Bigamist.

LA Weekly ran another great piece about the systematic discrimination of women in various aspects of Hollywood. Again, the comment sections were filled with man-babies whining and refusing to look at facts. One person kept stating over and over again about how films by women don’t make money, even after I kept sending him the stats that refute that claim. It’s really quite frustrating. Another thing I learned this year was that women directors are more likely to cast women in their films – from leads to secondary and background characters. Logically, that would mean if Hollywood hired more women as directors, more women would star in the films, and the films would be more profitable. If the bottom line is money, hiring women is the best investment!


Lastly, in the wake of Jennifer Lawrence’s open letter about the Hollywood pay gap, the NY Times ran an epic piece called The Women of Hollywood Speak Out. A stand-out quote for me came from one of my favorite directors, Dee Rees, “I look at Woody Allen’s prolific career of 30 or 40 films, and I’m watching the clock,” she says. “I’d love to work at a clip of a film a year. We don’t get the benefit of the doubt, particularly black women. We’re presumed incompetent, whereas a white male is assumed competent until proven otherwise. They just think the guy in the ball hat and the T-shirt over the thermal has got it, whether he’s got it or not. For buzzy first films by a white male, the trajectory is a 90-degree angle. For us, it’s a 30-degree angle.” The author notes that despite graduating from NYU and counting Spike Lee as a mentor, in twelve years Rees has only released two feature films. That’s just nuts!


Remember the Ava Barbie? Mattel decided to release a limited number to the public (with half the proceeds going to charity). Ava announced this a day before they were available. They sold out on the Barbie website in 17 minutes (I was literally checking out when the status changed). Once made available on Amazon they sold out in about five minutes (I snagged one! Woo 1-click purchasing!). Viola Davis tweeted a picture of the doll she bought for her daughter. The internet melted.


Jessica Chastain wrote an open letter from the set of Niki Caro’s The Zookeeper’s Wife, noting how peaceful it was to be on a set that was mostly female. The more women speak up on all aspects of the sexism rampant in the film industry, the better it’s going to be for everyone involved (that means you, too, men!). Conversely, the DGA released its inaugural diversity report. The data was grim. Forbes posted about the ten most profitable stars working today; four of them were women. Conversely, the most overpaid stars were all men. Hmmmm.

The Sundance Film Festival posted a handy track that will help you find all the films by and about women at this year’s festival. All of you headed to Sundance this year: I urge you to try to make your viewing schedule this year more inclusive. If you have a voice (aka you are a film critic or a blogger), use it to highlight films by women from the very beginning of the year. You can make a difference.


As I wrote earlier, one of my all-time favorite movies is Gillian Armstrong’s Little Women. Vogue posted a great essay about why it’s the best Christmas movie. I love this for many reasons, but mostly because the more young women who have grown up in the 90s+ begin writing about films online, the more of likely those influential films by women about women from the 90s will start to make their way into the canon (which they already should be!)

Lastly, here is a relatively comprehensive list of all the films released in the US in 2015 that were directed by women. How many of these films did you see? How many did you mean to see? How many did you not even know existed? Don’t feel bad if you didn’t see that many. Just be mindful and spend next year seeking out more films by women, because they’re there!

What Lies Ahead?

Obviously, after such an intensive year of watching only films by women, I am a little apprehensive to dip my feet back into the world of male-directed cinema. Aside from a deep longing to know more about female directors and to expose people to the fact that even though the numbers are small, there are so many options and so many ways to support female directors, a big reason I wanted to do this year was I was sick of men! Oh, the misandry!


But, seriously, I found myself acutely aware of a lot of unconscious bias in films made by men and I just couldn’t ignore it anymore. So, now that 2015 is gone and A Year With Women is over, I’m still probably going to gravitate towards films by women more often that I will films by men. Will I catch up with all the films directed by men that I “missed” in 2015? Probably not. There are a few films I want to see (Mad Max: Fury Road! Paddington!), but mostly I’m kind of glad I had a good excuse to skip a lot of the prestige films and box office sensations this year. I am, however, looking forward to jumping back into my love affair with classic cinema and TCM. I have missed the channel so.

Be The Change You Want To See In The World


Yes, that phrase is kind of cheesy. But it’s also the truth. Like I’ve said over and over: PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS. If you want to see more female directors working and getting hired, GO SEE THE FILMS BY WOMEN THAT ARE GETTING MADE. I’ll still be tweeting about the films released every week by women, so look out for those tweets on Fridays. Also, here are some great resources to help you find films directed by women to watch:

This has been such a great year. I’ve discovered so many great filmmakers. I’ve seen so many great films (and some that I really hated!). I’ve met great women who love films and great women who make films. I think we’ve reached an important place in history. A lot of think pieces have talked about how “we’ve been here before” and nothing changes. It’s tough to look at history, because change really does take a long time.

But we live in the age of information. We live in a time where practically any film we want is at our fingertips. We live in a time where we can share our love of films with thousands of strangers who might then watch those films and spread that love like a wave that you can never really trace. We live in a time where you can make a film on your phone. You can share your films online. You can fund your films online. You can support filmmakers by renting or buying their films, writing about their films. Helping them fund their films. YOU CAN BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE. And you should be a part of that change. And then we won’t just wait on Hollywood to change their tune. We’ll already be marching to another beat.


About Marya E. Gates

Cinephile to the max.

Posted on January 1, 2016, in Site Update and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. Hmph, what a year, eh? That’s tons of massive lists. Wonder about your list of the films that opened in the US- was this based off the ones that show up on RT/IMDb? I’m seen about 22 of those (Suffragette is twice in it). And from all the films you’ve seen, I only got around %10 percent. xD

  2. OK I will take the52 challenge. I will use my fire gadget ad if amazon prime doesn’t have what I need I will make them get it. 🙂

  3. Briiiiiiiaaaaaaannnneee B

    I loved following you in your journey this year. This was such an admirable project and I’m so impressed by the gusto with which you approached it. Your clear and insightful prose along with your lolzy sense of humor makes for great reading that obviously speaks of a top notch Comp Lit degree at Berkeley! Thank you for giving us so many resources on women in film and for being one hell of a cinéphile!

  4. So far, so good, but how about five time Hong Kong Best Director winner Ann Hui, as well as films by Mabel Cheung, Sylvia Chang, Mari Asato, Joyce Bernal, Yuki Tanada and other Asian filmmakers?

    • I found Ann Hui’s “A Simple Life” on Amazon, but I wasn’t able to get to it before the year ended. A lot of what I watched was what was available on either Amazon or Netflix. Unfortunately, those services do not have a lot of Asian cinema.

      EDIT: I see Netflix has added two more of Hui’s films to instant. I look forward to discovering her work this year.

  5. AWESOME article. Already sparking conversations about racial/gender issues in the film industry with people I never expected to talk about it with. The time, effort, and heart that you put into this really shows.

  6. So amazing and inspiring not just to see the best work by these women filmmakers, but to see your own efforts during the year as well!

  7. I love this. What an amazing year. One of my film resolutions for 2016 is to watch more films directed by women!

  8. Such a great and inspiring post! It’s absolutely true – we can’t just go to the big office movies like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Mad Max: Fury Road and praise the complex female characters (in male directed films).As significant as those two blockbusters are, they are still directed by men and they are both action films. Female characters, nor filmmakers, and the experience of being a woman shouldn’t be relegated to the action genre. We have to watch movies by female filmmakers or with complex female characters and spread the word about them; encourage other people to watch them. Great post! Definitely going to try to do my part this year.

  9. Very much enjoyed reading this. And what a great resource it is. Congrats on putting it together. It is amazing how many of us on our own felt the need to watch more films by women last year. Long before #52filmsbywomen, I challenged myself to see 50 films in 2015. I ended up with 130+ (I tracked my films here: http://fiftyfilmsin2015.tumblr.com/) — and saw a lot of the same films you saw. I joined #52FilmsbyWomen when it started and am amazed to keep on discovering so many films I’ve never heard of via the hashtag on twitter. And LITTLE WOMEN is great in all incarnations.

  10. This is fantastic. Thank you for this. What a wonderful resource.

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