Women Make Film

Women Make Film

54 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
  • The Connection

    Episode 1

    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 2

    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 3

    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 4

    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...

  • Wings

    Episode 5

    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...

  • Daisies

    Episode 6

    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...

  • Wanda

    Episode 7

    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

    Episode 8

    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

    Episode 9

    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

    Episode 10

    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

    Episode 11

    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

    Episode 12

    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...

  • The Ascent

    Episode 13

    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

    Episode 14

    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

    Episode 15

    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.

  • Vagabond

    Episode 16

    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...

  • Desert Hearts

    Episode 17

    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...

  • Sweetie

    Episode 18

    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

    Episode 19

    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 ...

  • Beau travail

    Episode 20

    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 ...

  • La captive

    Episode 21

    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...

  • Fat Girl

    Episode 22

    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 ...

  • La Ciénaga

    Episode 23

    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...

  • Me and You and Everyone We Know

    Episode 24

    Directed by Miranda July • 2005 • United States
    Starring John Hawkes, Miranda July, Miles Thompson

    With this compassionate, startling comedy that could have come from no other artistic sensibility, the brilliant Miranda July reveals a world both familiar and strange—an original vision of creativ...