A number of people have this year pledged to at least attempt to watch one female-directed film for every week of 2016 (I believe it started with a campaign by Women In Film Los Angeles). I was one of these people, and have been surprised how difficult it was to keep it up. It’s not because I don’t watch enough films – as I’ve watched close to 300 films this year; around 5 films a week. The problem is that if I were to simply watch films paying no attention to the gender of the director, the number of films directed by women would be less than the 20% needed with those stats. The actual number of women directing films in the industry is closer to 7%.
So, I ended up spending quite a while creating lists. I scoured “Best female filmmakers” lists online, added personal recommendations, checked the IMDb credits for the films I came across… rest assured I got pretty sick of seeing the smiling publicity photos of white dudes. I then checked where these films were available – specifically whether I could access them through on-demand services I use like Amazon Prime, Netflix and Sky Cinema. Still, it was difficult, and often the films that I found the most were indie dramas and documentaries. Nothing inherently wrong with them, but after a hard day’s work, sometimes I don’t want to start watching a film about a school shooting or fraught human relationships. I started running behind, but managed to catch up during December, which happened to give me a number of fantastic films I had never heard of before.
I may have made this more difficult for myself by assuming the rule that it couldn’t be a film I had ever seen before, and eventually decided to not count short films or the segment Allison Anders directed for Four Rooms either.
In the end I logged 53 films; two were short films, 12 were documentaries.
You can find the full list, ranked from favourite to least favourite, here