52in52: Centering Female Directors

In an oppressive world you have to actively work to avoid propping up the status quo. One way people have been doing this lately is by challenging themselves to consume media differently, whether that’s reading only women, POCs and LBGTQ+ authors for a year or pledging to watch 52 films made by women in the next year. I make a point to support the kinds of media I want to see–I make sure to go to feminist films in theatre, I support films starring and centering people of colour, I support independent radio. But this has been an ad hoc extension of my politics, rather than an organized strategy. So I have signed the pledge to watch 52 films made by women in the next year. And I plan to write about it here, detailing the ways that my world may be expanded by going out of my way to watch films made by women (just 1.9% of 2013’s highest grossing films were made by women). Given a few of the films I plan to watch I’ll also be talking about how putting women in the director’s chair is simply a first step and cannot be the end point of our drive toward diversity. Simply putting women in the director’s chair without offering scripts written by women, films produced by women, films about women can end up tokenizing women directors as well as selecting for the types of women who will prop up the system as it stands. And simply putting “women” in the director’s chair (or, indeed, all these other positions) cannot be enough either, as “woman” in a white supremacist culture nearly always means “white (straight, cisgender) woman.”

Will you take the pledge? Or are you more of a reader and would like to expand your palate away from cis, straight, white guys (incidentally, there was quite the hysterical reaction to that piece–you know how emotional* men get)?

If you’re going to watch 52 films made by women in the next 52 weeks here are a few lists to get you started.

On my list so far:
The Hurt Locker
Selma
Pariah
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
Sleeping With Other People
Your Sister’s Sister
American Psycho
But I’m a Cheerleader
Monsoon Wedding
Wendy and Lucy
Whale Rider
The Milk of Sorrow
Winter’s Bone
A League of Their Own
Learning to Drive
Caramel
In a Better World
The Babadook
The Loneliest Planet
Apartment Troubles
Two Days in New York
The Second Mother
Unbroken
Your Day is My Night
Aloft (if only to see a Mother/Son casting where the mother is literally six years older than the son)
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Persepolos

And I am very much open to recommendations!

Note: A few of these are rewatches, either favourites (Your Sister’s Sister) or films I haven’t seen in a long time and would like to rewatch with this lens (A League of Their Own, But I’m a Cheerleader)

*Blah blah not all men, yes, yes, I’m being satirical and will not approve any comments that get up in arms about it.

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5 thoughts on “52in52: Centering Female Directors

  1. Yessss “Monsoon Wedding” is great! If you want something even more Bollywood – “Main Hoon Na” and “Om Shanti Om” (directed by Farah Kahn) are fun romps with a real story behind them.

    Also seconding “Whale Rider” – didn’t know that was a female director! Glad I saw it in theaters. ^_^

    I’d be curious to find older films by female directors. I know they’re probably rarer, but they must exist.

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