To help people with their 52 Films By Women challenge this year I thought I’d put together a list of some of my favorite films directed by women that are easily accessible on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Keep in mind that this is in no way all of the films directed by women available on these services, but rather a selection of films I have seen and enjoy. There are also many more films available to rent on Amazon Video as well. Think of this as a jumping off point! Also if you have not taken the 52 Films By Women pledge yet you can do so here.
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!
Amelia Boynton: I’ll tell you what I know to be true. It helps me in times when I’m feeling unsure. If you’d like.
Coretta Scott King: Oh, please do, Mrs. Boynton.
Amelia Boynton: I know that we are descendants of a mighty people, who gave civilization to the world. People who survived the hulls of slave ships across vast oceans. People who innovate and create and love despite pressures and tortures unimaginable. They are in our bloodstream. Pumping our hearts every second. They’ve prepared you. You are already prepared.
Rosie: Okay, don’t tell mom. This is a serious theory, okay?
Rosie: So, I was watching OWN and there was this lady on, she was talking about how to meet your mate, key word being “meet,” as in half way. Put yourself in the right places to meet who you want.
Rosie: So, if you want a man that is going to mow the lawn, you don’t go to the bar. You go to Home Depot.
Rosie: And if you want a man that’s going to take your boy to see fireworks at the beach, go see fireworks at the beach, bitch.
Ruby: Is that why we’re here?
Rosie: That’s why I’m here.
Lately I’ve become more and more frustrated with the various “best ever” lists that have been released because they rarely feature films by women, or if they do it’s usually one or two films. I think this is more a reflection of those who are polled for these kinds of lists, as well as a compounding of history on itself. For so long films by men have made up the bulk of the film canon and I think people are afraid to add new films to these revered lists. I also think many people haven’t seen very many films by women, or if they have it’s always the same handful of films. In an attempt to create a better, more inclusive list of great films by women, I polled over 500 critics, filmmakers, bloggers, historians, professors and casual film viewers, asking them to tell me what films directed (or co-directed) by women are essential viewing. Some people only responded with as little as five votes, others submitted hundreds of films. In the end, I received over 7,000 votes for 1,100+ different films. After tallying up this data, with ties factored in, I then had a list of 103 essential films directed by women.
I watched this a few weeks ago when it debuted on Netflix and I was blown away. I wish I had written about it right away, though, because I was going to recommend you all go watch it, but it appears to be not available on Netflix anymore (and it’s not on DVD!) It’s aired on BET before, so hopefully it will again. I know the film was distributed by DuVernay herself, so perhaps that’s part of the reason it’s unavailable (distribution, in theaters or digitally or home video, is super expensive!) I’ll keep you updated if it becomes available, because this is an important film. I remember when it first came out in theaters, it was when I was still living in San Francisco, and it was only playing in one theater and it was quite the bus ride away, but I was determined to go, but then when I finally had the time to go it was gone! But this film was definitely worth the wait and I hope it becomes available on home video sometime soon, because it is beautifully layered (DuVernay won the Best Director award for her work at the Sundance Film Festival!) and deserves multiple re-watchings.