In the next few months there will be American theatrical releases for some exciting new movies directed by women filmmakers from all corners of the world. Comedy, drama, music, romance, horror, warfare and whatever else comes into play in human life will be visible in these fiction and nonfiction films.
Citizenfour, directed by Laura Poitras (October 24). Edward Snowden is the subject of this documentary made in secret by Poitras. It is an incredibly current movie, the last Snowden interview scene having been filmed just a few weeks ago. Mathilde Bonnefoy, best known for her collaborations with director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, The Princess and the Warrior, The International, etc.), worked as the editor and three of the four cinematographers were women: Kirsten Johnson, Poitras herself and Katy Scoggin.
Laggies, directed by Lynn Shelton (October 24). Shelton has made a name for herself in the last decade with her indie films: We Go Way Back (2006), My Effortless Brilliance (2008), Humpday (2009), Your Sister’s Sister (2011) and Touchy Feely (2013). Her latest, Laggies, tells a narrative familiar to male-centric films, that of the adult who finds it difficult to grow up, but told here with a female character (Keira Knightley). The cast includes Chloë Grace Moretz, Sam Rockwell, Jeff Garlin, Gretchen Mol, Ellie Kemper, Mark Webber and Kaitlyn Dever and the script is by Andrea Seigel, a first-time screenwriter who has also published three novels.
The Great Invisible, directed by Margaret Brown (October 29). Brown has directed some highly acclaimed documentaries, Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt (2004) and The Order of Myths (2008). Her new documentary deals with the 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico and the aftermath of that deadly incident.
Beyond the Lights, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (November 14). After making Love & Basketball (2000) and The Secret Life of Bees (2008), two films focused on African-American characters, writer-director Prince-Bythewood’s latest feature is a romance between a pop star (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who recently starred in Amma Asante’s Belle) and a police officer (Nate Parker). The supporting cast includes Danny Glover, Minnie Driver, Darryl Stephens, Jordan Belfi and Aisha Hinds. Additionally, Beyond the Lights’ cinematographer, Tami Reiker, and the editor, Terilyn A. Shropshire, are women.
Bad Hair, directed by Mariana Rondón (November 19). This Venezuelan coming-of-age drama about a nine-year-old boy’s fixation on his hair has been nominated for or won awards at international film festivals in Argentina (Mar del Plata Film Festival), Canada (Montréal Festival of New Cinema), Cuba (Havana Film Festival), Greece (Thessaloniki Film Festival), Italy (Torino International Festival of Young Cinema), Spain (San Sebastián International Film Festival) and Switzerland (Fribourg International Film Festival). Writer-director Rondón worked with a female film editor, Marité Ugas (who is also a director), and a female cinematographer, Micaela Cajahuaringa.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, directed by Ana Lily Amirpour (November 21). Billed as “the first Iranian Vampire Western,” this debut feature written and directed by Amirpour won the Revelations Prize at the Deauville Film Festival. It is being released in conjunction with a six-part comic series created by Amirpour.
The Babadook, directed by Jennifer Kent (November 28). Australia has generated a lot of memorable horror films. This addition to the genre is the first feature by writer-director Kent, following a female protagonist played by Essie Davis. The character is a single mother who is recently widowed and who has a young son, living in a house that she soon realizes is haunted.
Zero Motivation, directed by Talya Lavie (December 3). Described as Israel’s answer to Lena Dunham, writer-director Lavie makes her feature debut with this comedy about women soldiers. The film won six Israeli Academy Awards, including ones for Best Director and Best Screenplay. Lavie also won the Best Narrative Feature Award and the Nora Ephron Prize at the esteemed Tribeca Film Festival.
Life Partners, directed by Susanna Fogel (December 5). This romantic comedy stars two actresses best known for their TV roles, Leighton Meester (“Gossip Girl”) and Gillian Jacobs (“Community”), as best friends – one gay, one straight – whose lives are complicated by the addition of a potential love interest for Jacobs (Adam Brody). Gabourey Sidibe, Kate McKinnon and Abby Elliott are also featured in the film, which was co-written by Fogel and Joni Lefkowitz.
If You Don’t, I Will, directed by Sophie Fillières (December 17). Writer-director Fillières’ comedy stars Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Quantum of Solace, Venus in Fur) and Emmanuelle Devos (Read My Lips, Kings & Queen, Violette) as a couple who experience many ups and downs in their relationship, testing their limits with extended hikes in the woods.
Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay (December 25). Martin Luther King Jr. is the subject of this biopic, portrayed here by David Oyelowo. The large cast also includes Tim Roth, Tom Wilkinson, Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding Jr., Dylan Baker, Common, Lorraine Toussaint, Alessandro Nivola, Giovanni Ribisi, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Niecy Nash, Carmen Ejogo and Jeremy Strong. With Oprah and Brad Pitt as two of the producers, the film is sure to be a big deal come Oscar time.
Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie (December 25). Perhaps the most anticipated film of awards season, Jolie’s drama tells the story of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini’s struggle to survive in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp during World War II. Jack O’Connell is sure to become a star thanks to his role as Zamperini and it doesn’t hurt that the film’s script was written by the Coen Brothers, Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson, all Oscar-winning or -nominated screenwriters.
There are other many films directed by women that have been showing at festivals or which are in post-production, so they may be released either later in 2014 or in 2015: The American Side (Jenna Ricker); Amour Fou (Jessica Hausner); Another Year (Oksana Bychkova); Appropriate Behavior (Desiree Akhavan); Bite the Dust (Taisia Igumentseva); Brides (Tinatin Kajrishvili); Blood (Alina Rudnitskaya); Butter on the Latch (Josephine Decker); A Classy Broad (Anne Goursaud); Daughter (Afia Nathaniel); Eden (Mia Hansen-Løve); Every Secret Thing (Amy Berg); Fair Play (Andrea Sedlácková); The Falling (Carol Morley); Fever (Elfi Mikesch); Gemma Bovery (Anne Fontaine); A Girl at My Door (July Jung); Girlhood (Céline Sciamma); Going Away (Nicole Garcia); Honeymoon (Leigh Janiak); Infinitely Polar Bear (Maya Forbes); Jenny’s Wedding (Mary Agnes Donoghue); Line of Credit (Salome Alexi); Madame Bovary (Sophie Barthes); Miss Julie (Liv Ullmann); Nagima (Zhanna Issabayeva); The Narrow Frame of Midnight (Tala Hadid); Ride (Helen Hunt); A Second Chance (Susanne Bier); Second Coming (Debbie Tucker Green); Self Made (Shira Geffen); Serena (Susanne Bier); The Silent Storm (Corinna McFarlane); Something Must Break (Ester Martin Bergsmark); Song One (Kate Barker-Froyland); Still the Water (Naomi Kawase); Tender (Lynette Wallworth); Thou Wast Mild and Lovely (Josephine Decker); Viktoria (Maya Vitkova); Villa Touma (Suha Arraf); The Voices (Marjane Satrapi); Walking Under Water (Eliza Kubarska); Welcome to Me (Shira Piven). Keep an eye out for these titles!