Women Make Film
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.
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 ...
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
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 ...
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...
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...
Directed by Larisa Shepitko • 1966 • Soviet Union
For her first feature after graduating from the All-Russian State Institute for Cinematography (VGIK), Larisa Shepitko trained her lens on the fascinating Russian character actress Maya Bulgakova, who gives a marvelous performance as a once heroi...
Directed by Věra Chytilová • 1966 • Czechoslovakia
Starring Ivana Karbanová, Jitka Cerhová, Marie Češková
If the entire world is bad, why shouldn’t we be? Adopting this insolent attitude as their guiding philosophy, a pair of hedonistic young women (Ivana Karbanová and Jitka Cerhová), both named...
Directed by Barbara Loden • 1970 • United States
Starring Barbara Loden, Michael Higgins
With her first and only feature film—a hard-luck drama she wrote, directed, and starred in—Barbara Loden turned in a groundbreaking work of American independent cinema, bringing to life a kind of characte...
Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
Directed by Chantal Akerman • 1975 • Belgium
Starring Delphine Seyrig, Jan Decorte
A singular work in film history, Chantal Akerman’s JEANNE DIELMAN, 23, QUAI DU COMMERCE, 1080 BRUXELLES meticulously details, with a sense of impending doom, the daily routine of a middle-aged widow, whose chores ...
Je tu il elle
Directed by Chantal Akerman • 1975 • France
In her provocative first feature, Chantal Akerman stars as an aimless young woman who leaves self-imposed isolation to embark on a road trip that leads to lonely love affairs with a male truck driver and a former girlfriend. With its famous real-time...
Mikey and Nicky
Directed by Elaine May • 1976 • United States
Elaine May crafted a gangster film like no other in the nocturnal odyssey MIKEY AND NICKY, capitalizing on the chemistry between frequent collaborators John Cassavetes and Peter Falk by casting them together as small-time mobsters whose lifelong re...
Harlan County USA
Directed by Barbara Kopple • 1976 • United States
Barbara Kopple’s Academy Award-winning HARLAN COUNTY USA unflinchingly documents a grueling coal miners’ strike in a small Kentucky town. With unprecedented access, Kopple and her crew captured the miners’ sometimes violent struggles with strikeb...
One Sings, the Other Doesn't
Directed by Agnès Varda • 1977 • France
Starring Valérie Mairesse, Thérèse Liotard, Ali Raffi
In the early 1960s in Paris, two young women become friends. Pomme is an aspiring singer. Suzanne is a pregnant country girl unable to support a third child. Pomme lends Suzanne the money for an illegal...
Directed by Larisa Shepitko • 1977 • Soviet Union
Starring Boris Plotnikov, Vladimir Gostyukhin, Sergei Yakovlev
The crowning triumph of a career cut tragically short, the final film from Larisa Shepitko won the Golden Bear at the 1977 Berlin Film Festival and went on to be hailed as one of the ...
Les rendez-vous d'Anna
Directed by Chantal Akerman • 1978 • France
In one of Akerman's most penetrating character studies, Anna, an accomplished filmmaker (played by Aurore Clément), makes her way through a series of European cities to promote her latest movie. Via a succession of eerie, exquisitely shot, brief enco...
An Exercise in Discipline: Peel
Directed by Jane Campion • 1982 • Australia
This short, concerning a father disciplining his son whilst on a road trip, went on to win the Short Film Palme d'Or at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival and effectively launched director Jane Campion's feature-filmmaking career.
Directed by Agnès Varda • 1985 • France
Starring Sandrine Bonnaire, Macha Méril, Stéphane Freiss
Sandrine Bonnaire won the Best Actress César for her portrayal of the defiant young drifter Mona, found frozen to death in a ditch at the beginning of VAGABOND. Agnès Varda pieces together Mona’s sto...
Directed by Donna Deitch • 1985 • United States
Donna Deitch's swooning and sensual first narrative feature, DESERT HEARTS, was groundbreaking upon its release in 1985: a love story about two women, made entirely independently, on a shoestring budget, by a woman. In this 1959-set film, adapted...
Directed by Jane Campion • 1989 • New Zealand
Starring Genevieve Lemon, Karen Colston, Tom Lycos
Though she went on to create a string of brilliant films, Jane Campion will always be remembered for her stunning debut feature SWEETIE, which focuses on the hazardous relationship between the button...
An Angel at My Table
Directed by Jane Campion • 1990 • New Zealand
Starring Kerry Fox, Alexia Keogh, Karen Fergusson
With AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE, Academy Award–winning filmmaker Jane Campion brought to the screen the harrowing autobiography of Janet Frame, New Zealand’s most distinguished author. Three actors in turn ...
Directed by Claire Denis • 1999 • France
Starring Denis Lavant, Michel Subor, Grégoire Colin
With her ravishingly sensual take on Herman Melville’s “Billy Budd, Sailor,” Claire Denis firmly established herself as one of the great visual tone poets of our time. Amid the azure waters and sunbaked ...
Directed by Chantal Akerman • 2000 • Belgium, France
Starring Sylvie Testud, Stanislas Merhar, Olivia Bonamy
Adapting the fifth volume of Marcel Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time,” Chantal Akerman transforms the material into a mesmerizing study of voyeurism, control, and sexual obsession centere...
Directed by Catherine Breillat • 2001 • France, Italy
Starring Anaïs Reboux, Roxane Mesquida, Libero de Rienzo
Twelve-year-old Anaïs is fat. Her sister, fifteen-year-old Elena, is a beauty. While the girls are on vacation with their parents, Anaïs tags along as Elena explores the dreary seaside ...
Directed by Lucrecia Martel • 2001 • Argentina, Spain
Starring Martín Adjemián, Diego Baenas, Leonora Balcarce
The release of Lucrecia Martel’s LA CIÉNAGA heralded the arrival of an astonishingly vital and original voice in Argentine cinema. With a radical and disturbing take on narrative, beaut...