Women Make Film

Women Make Film

51 Episodes

Five years in the making, this epic journey through film history is made up of forty “chapters” narrated by Tilda Swinton, Jane Fonda, Adjoa Andoh, Sharmila Tagore, Kerry Fox, Thandie Newton, and Debra Winger. WOMEN MAKE FILM follows in the footsteps of Mark Cousins’s THE STORY OF FILM: AN ODYSSEY to give us a guided tour of the art and craft of the movies. Using almost a thousand film extracts from thirteen decades and five continents, Cousins explores how films are made, shot, and edited; how stories are shaped; and how movies depict life, love, politics, humor, and death through the compelling lens of some of the world’s greatest directors—all of them women. The series is presented here along with a selection of women-directed films that appear in it.

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Women Make Film
  • WOMEN MAKE FILM: Episode 1

    Episode 1

    Directed by Mark Cousins • 2018 • United Kingdom

    With examples from 1943 to 2013, from China to Iran, Australia to Finland, we look at how to open a film: from mysterious, direct, floating, foreboding beginnings to plunging straight in. All are instructive in how to create an immediat...

  • WOMEN MAKE FILM: Episode 2

    Episode 2

    Directed by Mark Cousins • 2018 • United Kingdom

    It’s easy to spot, but not so easy to understand. Believability is about simple human stories, truth about life, real emotions, responding to the world. How do directors create a reality without it feeling fake? True stories can he...

  • WOMEN MAKE FILM: Episode 3

    Episode 3

    Directed by Mark Cousins • 2018 • United Kingdom

    A basic human interaction—how to make it cinematic? Angela Schanelec directs us to focus on body language in PLACES IN CITIES, Cecile Tang uses the zoom as guide through the emotional shifts in THE ARCH, and Sofia Coppola in THE VIR...

  • WOMEN MAKE FILM: Episode 4

    Episode 4

    Directed by Mark Cousins • 2018 • United Kingdom

    Scene staging is an element of film form pointing clearly to cinema’s origin: theater. Kinuyo Tanaka uses staging in THE MOON HAS RISEN to shape the scene’s invisible geometry, accentuating the tension between characters. Maren Ade stage...

  • WOMEN MAKE FILM: Episode 5

    Episode 5

    Directed by Mark Cousins • 2018 • United Kingdom

    Most famous movie genres—war pictures, westerns, etc.—are about adults, but in this chapter, Jane Fonda narrates the story of eighteen films about children, from Germany, Belgium, Mongolia, Sweden, Russia, Canada, Senegal, Argentina,...

  • WOMEN MAKE FILM: Episode 6

    Episode 6

    Directed by Mark Cousins • 2018 • United Kingdom

    Is cinema the art of point of view? Jocelyn Moorhouse, Ida Lupino, Edith Carlmar, Sofia Coppola, Liliana Cavani, Kelly Reichardt, Larisa Shepitko, Jennifer Kent, and other great directors demonstrate the art of POV.

    Films from Be...

  • WOMEN MAKE FILM: Episode 7

    Episode 7

    Directed by Mark Cousins • 2018 • United Kingdom

    Bodies in cinema can be enticing, athletic, or brutalized. Jane Fonda narrates this chapter about how some of the great directors—including Agnès Varda, Andrea Arnold, Marva Nabili, Pirjo Honkasalo, Márta Mészáros, and Wanda Jakubowska—ha...

  • WOMEN MAKE FILM: Episode 8

    Episode 8

    Directed by Mark Cousins • 2018 • United Kingdom

    Refuge, shelter, or prison? Sharmila Tagore narrates the story of home on-screen in the great films of Edith Carlmar, Lynne Ramsay, Mai Zetterling, Liu Jiayin, Forough Farrokhzad, Antonia Bird, and others.

    Narrator Sharmila Tago...

  • WOMEN MAKE FILM: Episode 9

    Episode 9

    Directed by Mark Cousins • 2018 • United Kingdom

    Another aspect of everyday life. From silent cinema to the twenty-first century, movies from the visually astonishing THE ENCHANTED DESNA to DIVORCE IRANIAN STYLE to STRANGE DAYS have gained their energy and attack from their politics.

  • WOMEN MAKE FILM: Episode 10

    Episode 10

    Directed by Mark Cousins • 2018 • United Kingdom

    A genre as popular as comedy, but what are some of the great scenes in melodrama? Sharmila Tagore narrates a story that takes us from the silent American film SHOES to Kira Muratova’s brilliant CHEKHOV’S MOTIFS to Binka Zhelyazkova’s v...

  • WOMEN MAKE FILM: Episode 11

    Episode 11

    Directed by Mark Cousins • 2018 • United Kingdom

    Thrillers, and so much more. We look at gripping scenes in films as diverse as Joel DeMott’s documentary DEMON LOVER DIARY, Kathryn Bigelow’s BLUE STEEL, Carol Morley’s DREAMS OF A LIFE, Mimi Leder’s THE PEACEMAKER, and Marleen Gorris’s ...

  • WOMEN MAKE FILM: Episode 12

    Episode 12

    Directed by Mark Cousins • 2018 • United Kingdom

    How does Lynne Ramsay do a reveal, in MORVEN CALLAR? How does the great actor-director Kinuyo Tanaka? Or Sarah Polley? Or Alice Rohrwacher?

    As cinema is a kind of time machine, it’s no surprise that it’s great at representing me...

  • WOMEN MAKE FILM: Episode 13

    Episode 13

    Directed by Mark Cousins • 2018 • United Kingdom

    “Life Inside”
    Novels are great at describing thoughts, but how do films do so? In this chapter, we see how great directors from France, Ukraine, the UK, the U.S., New Zealand, and Algeria have illuminated inner life.

    “The Meaning of Life”
    In the ...

  • WOMEN MAKE FILM: Episode 14

    Episode 14

    Directed by Mark Cousins • 2018 • United Kingdom

    The biggest subject in life, the most universal subject—no wonder that Japan’s Kinuyo Tanaka, Canada’s Caroline Leaf, Spain’s Ana Mariscal, Holland’s Paula Van der Oest, and other great filmmakers in this chapter embrace it.

    We ...

  • Shoes
    Episode 15


    Episode 15

    Directed by Lois Weber • 1916 • United States
    Starring Mary MacLaren, Harry Griffith, Mattie Witting

    Decades before the artistic triumph of neorealism and the cultural revolution of the feminist movement, director Lois Weber expressed the seeds of both in what is perhaps her greatest work: an al...

  • Olympia Part One: Festival of the Nations

    Episode 16

    Directed by Leni Riefenstahl • 1938 • Germany

    More has been written about Leni Riefenstahl's OLYMPIA than about any other sports documentary in history. Starting with a long and lyrical overture, evoking the origins of the Olympic Games in ancient Greece, Riefenstahl covers twenty-one athletic e...

  • Olympia Part Two: Festival of Beauty

    Episode 17

    Directed by Leni Riefenstahl • 1938 • Germany

    More has been written about Leni Riefenstahl's OLYMPIA than about any other sports documentary in history. In part two of OLYMPIA, the cameras leave the main stadium and venture into the many halls and fields deployed for such sports as fencing, polo...

  • La Pointe Courte

    Episode 18

    Directed by Agnès Varda • 1955 • France
    Starring Silvia Monfort, Philippe Noiret

    The great Agnès Varda’s film career began with this graceful, penetrating study of a marriage on the rocks, set against the backdrop of a small Mediterranean fishing village. Both a stylized depiction of the complic...

  • Three Cases of Murder

    Episode 19

    Directed by David Eady, George More O’Ferrall, Wendy Toye, and Orson Welles • 1955 • United Kingdom
    Starring Orson Welles, John Gregson, Elizabeth Sellars

    Three strange and sinister tales of murder and supernatural mystery make up this atmospheric omnibus chiller. First, a museum worker crosses ...

  • Araya

    Episode 20

    Directed by Margot Benacerraf • 1959 • Venezuela

    A work of such overwhelming grandeur that Jean Renoir told director Margot Benacerraf after viewing the film, “Above all . . . don’t cut a single image,” this poetic documentary-narrative hybrid is a landmark of both neorealist and feminist South ...

  • The Connection

    Episode 21

    Directed by Shirley Clarke • 1961 • United States
    Starring Warren Finnerty, Jerome Raphel, Garry Goodrow

    Shirley Clarke made a splash—and ignited a landmark censorship case—with her controversial feature debut, an innovative adaptation of Jack Gelber’s off-Broadway play in which the line between...

  • The House Is Black

    Episode 22

    Directed by Forugh Farrokhzad • 1963 • Iran

    The only film directed by trailblazing feminist Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad finds unexpected grace where few would think to look: a leper colony whose inhabitants live, worship, learn, play, and celebrate in a self-contained community cut off from ...

  • Something Different

    Episode 23

    Directed by Věra Chytilová • 1963 • Czechoslovakia

    The debut feature from Věra Chytilová interweaves two stories simultaneously: one a narrative about a frustrated mother (Vera Uzelacová) discontented with the drudgery of housework, the other a quasi documentary about a gymnast (real-life Olympi...

  • Le bonheur

    Episode 24

    Directed by Agnès Varda • 1965 • France
    Starring Jean-Claude Drouot, Claire Drouot, Marie-France Boyer

    Though married to the good-natured, beautiful Thérèse (Claire Drouot), young husband and father François (Jean-Claude Drouot) finds himself falling unquestioningly into an affair with an attrac...