The Review/List/

#52FilmsByWomen

...and why you should watch them all.

by
Mar 22, 2016

Sara Saljoughi is Assistant Professor of English and Cinema Studies at the University of Toronto. She will be at TIFF Bell Lightbox this Friday, March 25 at 6:30pm to speak at a screening of the Abbas Kiarostami film Shirin. She is also participating in #52FilmsbyWomen (an initiative that asks film lovers to watch one film directed by a woman each week for a year), so we asked for her list...

I am a strong supporter of the #52FilmsByWomen initiative. It's been a wonderful way to start 2016. One of the best things about the initiative is that it has resulted in lots of list sharing, which is a great way to learn about new films and people's tastes and interests in cinema. I had a lot of fun putting together my own list, which is organized primarily by the fact that I would strongly recommend seeing every single film on this list.

They range from those that have been most important for my own research and scholarship, such as The House is Black and The Sealed Soil, to films that I enjoy teaching and introducing to students. Chief among the films I love to teach are Jeanne Dielman, Born in Flames, and Riddles of the Sphinx. Last semester, students in my feminist film theory course had fascinating and provocative responses to these titles.

Life and Debt

I've also had great success teaching Life and Debt — its use of Jamaica Kincaid reading from her book A Small Place as the voiceover is a brilliant move. Some films are fun and affective in other less worldly ways, and for that reason, I've included Enough Said and In a World... The latter along with Appropriate Behavior makes me very excited about young women's cinema. I have a deep interest in Third Cinema, political film, and non-Western art cinema, so I've included One Way or Another, Your Children Come Back to You, and Sambizanga as strong examples of those traditions.

I'll end with a new discovery and one that I was lucky enough to see at TIFF recently: Losing Ground, directed by Kathleen Collins. I'm currently plotting to write an essay on this marvelous film.

The list that follows is written in no particular order, but with the hope that you will find something new to you that might inspire you to participate in #52FILMSBYWOMEN.

  1. The House is Black, (1962, dir. Forough Farrokhzad)
  2. Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai de Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975, dir. Chantal Akerman)
  3. Born in Flames (1983, dir. Lizzie Borden)
  4. Losing Ground (1982, dir. Kathleen Collins)
  5. Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962, dir. Agnes Varda)
  6. Meshes of the Afternoon (1943, dir. Maya Deren & Alexander Hammid)
  7. An Angel at my Table (1990, dir. Jane Campion)
  8. Girlfriends (1978, dir. Claudia Weill)
  9. Obvious Child (2014, dir. Gillian Robespierre)
  10. The Sealed Soil (1977, dir. Marva Nabili)
    1. Girlhood (2015, dir. Celina Sciamma)
  11. Enough Said (2013, dir. Nicole Holofcener)
  12. In a World... (2013, dir. Lake Bell)
  13. Beau Travail (1999, dir. Claire Denis)
  14. The Day I Became a Woman (2000, dir. Marzieh Makhmalbaf)
  15. The Watermelon Woman (1998, dir. Cheryl Dunye)
  16. Slums of Beverly Hills (1998, dir. Tamara Jenkins)
  17. Crossing Delancey (1998, dir. Joan Micklin Silver)
  18. Winter's Bone (2010, dir. Debra Granik)
  19. High Art (1998, dir. Lisa Cholodenko)
  20. Life and Debt (2001, dir. Stephanie Black)
  21. Faithless (2000, dir. Liv Ullman)
  22. 23) Persepolis (2007, dir. Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud)
  23. Appropriate Behavior (2014, dir. Desiree Akhavan)
  24. Mississippi Masala (1991, dir. Mira Nair)
  25. One Way or Another (1974, dir. Sara Goméz)
  26. Two Women (1999, dir. Tahmineh Milani)
  27. Meek's Cutoff (2010, dir. Kelly Reichardt)
  28. Beyond the Lights (2014, dir. Gina Prince-Bythwood)
  29. Wayne's World (1992, dir. Penelope Spheeris)
  30. Who Killed Vincent Chin? (1987, dir. Christine Choy & Renee Tajima-Pena)
  31. The Headless Woman (2008, dir. Lucretia Martel)
  32. Clueless (1995, dir. Amy Heckerling)
  33. The Bride Wore Red (1937, dir. Dorothy Arzner)
  34. Frida (2002, dir. Julie Taymor)
  35. Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989, dir. Trinh T. Minh-ha)
  36. Riddles of the Sphinx (1977, dir. Laura Mulvey & Peter Wollen)
  37. Little Women (1994, dir. Gillian Armstrong)
  38. The Virgin Suicides (1999, dir. Sofia Coppola)
  39. The Apple(1998, dir. Samira Makhmalbaf)
  40. The May Lady (1999, dir. Rakhshan Bani-Etemad)
  41. Home (2008, dir. Ursula Meier)
  42. Sambizanga (1973, dir. Sarah Maldoror)
  43. Mossane (1997, dir. Safi Faye)
  44. Measures of Distance (1988, dir. Mona Hatoum)
  45. Turbulent (1998, dir. Shirin Neshat)
  46. Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy (1989, dir. Tracey Moffatt)
  47. Illusions (1982, dir. Julie Dash)
  48. Film about a Woman Who... (1974, dir. Yvonne Rainer)
  49. Selma (2014, dir. Ava DuVernay)
  50. Las Madres: The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo (1985, dir. Susanna Blaustein & Lourdes Portillo)
  51. Your Children Come Back to You (1979, dir. Alile Sharon Larkin)