BEFORE & AFTER BIGELOW: GREAT FEMALE DIRECTORS

28 Jan

Earlier today, I provided an extensive look at the career of Kathryn Bigelow, who could well become the first woman to ever win the DGA Award on Saturday evening and/or the best director Academy Award on March 7. What I did not do earlier, and what I would like to do now, is acknowledge female directors whose struggles made it possible for someone like Bigelow to have the chance to show she belonged in the company of men, as well as female directors who will undoubtedly benefit from Bigelow having proven beyond a doubt just that. Following is an unprecedented listing of both — as well as of female directors of roughly the same generation as Bigelow — along with a select filmography for each.

Female directors who helped pave the way for Bigelow and her peers:

  • Lois Weber (1881-1931) – “The Merchant of Venice” (1914), “The Dumb Girl of Portici” (1916), “The Blot” (1921)
  • Marion Wong (18??-19??) – “The Curse of Quon Gwon” (1916)
  • Dorothy Arzner (1897-1979) – “Fashions for Women” (1927), “Christopher Strong” (1933), “Dance, Girl, Dance” (1940)
  • Leni Riefenstahl (1902-2003) – “Triumph of the Will “(1935), “Olympia, Parts 1 and 2″ (1938), “Underwater Impressions” (2002)
  • Ida Lupino (1914-1995) – “The Bigamist” (1953), “The Hitch-Hiker” (1953), “The Trouble with Angels” (1966)
  • Maya Deren (1917-1961) – “Meshes of the Afternoon” (1943), “At Land” (1944), “Ritual in Transfigured Time” (1946)
  • Agnes Varda (1928-) – “Cleo from 5 to 7″ (1962), “Vagabond” (1985), “The Beaches of Agnes” (2009)
  • Marguerite Duras (1914-1996) – “Nathalie Granger” (1972), “India Song” (1975), “The Truck” (1977)
  • Lina Wertmüller (1928-) – “Love and Anarchy” (1973), “Swept Away” (1974), “Seven Beauties” (1975)
  • Elaine May (1932-) – “A New Leaf” (1971), “The Heartbreak Kid” (1972), “Mikey and Nicky” (1976)

Female directors of Bigelow’s generation:

  • Chantal Akerman (1950-) – “Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles” (1975), “News from Home” (1977), “The Meetings of Anna” (1978)
  • Gillian Armstrong (1950-) – “My Brilliant Career” (1979), “High Tide” (1987), “Little Women” (1994)
  • Catherine Breillat (1948-) – “Brief Crossing” (2001), “Fat Girl” (2001), “The Last Mistress” (2007)
  • Jane Campion (1954-) – “The Piano” (1993), “The Portrait of a Lady” (1996), “Bright Star” (2009)
  • Patricia Cardoso (19??-) – “Real Women Have Curves” (2002)
  • Claire Denis (1948-) – “Chocolat” (1988), “Beau Travail” (1999), “35 Shots of Rum” (2008)
  • Christine Edzard (1945-) – “Little Dorrit” (1988), “The Fool” (1990), “As You Like It” (1992)
  • Nora Ephron (1941-) – “Sleepless in Seattle” (1993), “You’ve Got Mail” (1998), “Julie & Julia” (2009)
  • Marleen Gorris (1948-) – “Antonia” (1995), “The Luzhin Defence” (2000), “Carolina” (2003)
  • Randa Haines (1945-)- “Children of a Lesser God” (1986), “The Doctor” (1991), “Wrestling Ernest Hemingway” (1993)
  • Mary Harron (1953-) – “I Shot Andy Warhol” (1996), “American Psycho” (2000), “The Notorious Bettie Page” (2005)
  • Amy Heckerling (1954-) – “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982), “Look Who’s Talking” (1989), “Clueless” (1995)
  • Agnieszka Holland (1948-) – “Europa Europa” (1990), “Olivier, Olivier” (1992), “The Secret Garden” (1993)
  • Beeban Kidron (1961-) – “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar” (1995), “Swept from the Sea” (1997), “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” (2004)
  • Barbara Kopple (1946-) – “Harlan County U.S.A.” (1976), “American Dream” (1990), “Shut Up and Sing” (2006)
  • Mimi Leder (1952-) – “The Peacemaker” (1997), “Deep Impact” (1998), “Pay It Forward” (2000)
  • Penny Marshall (1943-) – “Big” (1988), “Awakenings” (1990), “A League of Their Own” (1992)
  • Deepa Mehta (1950-) – “Fire” (1996), “Earth” (1998), “Water” (2005)
  • Nancy Meyers (1949-) – “The Parent Trap” (1998), “What Women Want” (2000), “Something’s Gotta Give” (2003)
  • Mira Nair (1957-) – “Salaam Bombay!” (1988), “Mississippi Masala” (1991), “Monsoon Wedding” (2001)
  • Euzhan Palcy (1958-) – “Black Shack Alley” (1983), “A Dry White Season” (1989)
  • Sally Potter (1949-) – “Orlando” (1992), “The Man Who Cried” (2000), “Yes” (2004)
  • Patricia Rozema (1958-) – “When Night Is Falling” (1995), “Mansfield Park” (1999), “Kit Kittredge: An American Girl” (2008)
  • Lone Scherfig (1959-) – “Italian for Beginners” (2000), “Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself” (2002), “An Education” (2009)
  • Susan Seidelman (1952-) – “Smithereens” (1982), “Desperately Seeking Susan” (1985), “The Boynton Beach Bereavement Club” (2005)
  • Penelope Spheeris (1945-) – “The Decline of Western Civilization” (1981), “Wayne’s World” (1992), “The Beverly Hillbillies” (1993)
  • Barbra Streisand (1942-) – “Yentl” (1983), “The Prince of Tides” (1991), “The Mirror Has Two Faces” (1996)
  • Margarethe von Trotta (1942-) – “The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum” (1975), “The German Sisters” (1981), “Rosa Luxemburg” (1986)

Female directors for whom Bigelow and her peers have helped to pave the way:

  • Asia Argento (1975-) – “Scarlet Diva” (2000), “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things” (2004)
  • Andrea Arnold (1961-) – “Red Road” (2006), “Fish Tank” (2009)
  • Shari Springer Berman (1963-) – “The Young and the Dead” (2000), “American Splendor” (2003), “The Nanny Diaries” (2007)
  • Susanne Bier (1960-) – “Brothers” (2004), “After the Wedding” (2006), “Things We Lost in the Fire” (2007)
  • Anna Boden (19??-) – “Half Nelson” (2006), “Sugar” (2009)
  • Niki Caro (1967-) – “Whale Rider” (2002), “North Country” (2005), “The Vintner’s Luck” (2009)
  • Gurinder Chadha (1960-) – “Bend It Like Beckham” (2002), “Bride and Prejudice” (2004), “Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging” (2008)
  • Isabel Coixet (1960-) – “My Life Without Me” (2003), “The Secret Life of Words” (2005), “Elegy” (2008)
  • Laurie Collyer (19??-) – “Sherrybaby” (2006)
  • Sofia Coppola (1971-) – “The Virgin Suicides” (1999), “Lost in Translation” (2003), “Marie Antoinette” (2006)
  • Heidi Ewing (19??-) – “The Boys of Baraka” (2005), “Jesus Camp” (2006), “12th and Delaware” (2010)
  • Valerie Faris (1958-) – “Little Miss Sunshine” (2008)
  • Anne Fletcher (1966-) – “Step Up” (2006), “27 Dresses” (2008), “The Proposal” (2009)
  • Anne Fontaine (1959-) – “My Father and I” (2001), “Nathalie…” (2003), “Coco Before Chanel” (2009)
  • Rachel Grady (19??-) – “The Boys of Baraka” (2005), “Jesus Camp” (2006), “12th and Delaware” (2010)
  • Catherine Hardwicke (1955-)- “Thirteen” (2003), “Lords of Dogtown” (2005), “Twilight” (2008)
  • Nicole Holofcener (1960-) – “Walking and Talking” (1996), “Lovely & Amazing” (2001), “Friends with Money” (2006)
  • Courtney Hunt (1964-) – “Frozen River” (2008)
  • Christine Jeffs (1963-) – “Rain” (2001), “Sylvia” (2003), “Sunshine Cleaning” (2009)
  • Patty Jenkins (1971-) – “Monster” (2003)
  • Tamara Jenkins (1962-) – “Slums of Beverly Hills” (1998), “The Savages” (2007)
  • Vicky Jenson (19??-) – “Shrek” (2001), “Family Tree” (2003), “Shark Tale” (2004)
  • Miranda July (1974-) – “Me and You and Everyone We Know” (2005)
  • Nicole Kassell (19??-) – “The Woodsman” (2004)
  • Karyn Kusama (1968-) – “Girlfight” (2000), “Aeon Flux” (2005), “Jennifer’s Body” (2009)
  • Kasi Lemmons (1961-) – “Eve’s Bayou” (1997), “The Caveman’s Valentine” (2001), “Talk to Me” (2007)
  • Caroline Link (1964-) – “Beyond Silence” (1996), “Nowhere in Africa” (2001), “A Year in Winter” (2008)
  • Phyllida Lloyd (1957-) – “Mamma Mia!” (2008)
  • Katia Lund (1966-) – “News from a Personal War” (1999), “City of God” (2002)
  • Lucrecia Martel (1968-) – “The Martel” (2001), “The Holy Girl” (2004), “The Headless Woman” (2008)
  • Rebecca Miller (1962-) – “Personal Velocity: Three Portraits” (2002), “The Ballad of Jack and Rose” (2005), “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee” (2009)
  • Nina Paley (1968-) – “Sita Sings the Blues” (2008)
  • Kimberly Peirce (1967-) – “Boys Don’t Cry” (1999), “Stop-Loss” (2008)
  • Sarah Polley (1979-) – “Away from Her” (2007)
  • Gina Prince-Bythewood (1969-) – “Love & Basketball” (2000), “The Secret Life of Bees” (2008)
  • Kelly Reichardt (1964-) – “Ode” (1999), “Old Joy” (2006), “Wendy and Lucy” (2008)
  • Adrienne Shelly (1966-2006) – “Sudden Manhattan” (1997), “I’ll Take You There” (1999), “Waitress” (2007)
  • Loveleen Tandan (19??-) – “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008)
  • Julie Taymor (1952-) – “Titus” (1999), “Frida” (2002), “Across the Universe” (2007)
  • Betty Thomas (1948-) – “The Brady Bunch Movie” (1995) “Private Parts” (1997), “28 Days” (2000)
  • Sam Taylor Wood (1967-) – “Nowhere Boy” (2009)

Photo: Dorothy Arzner directing a film. Credit: Museum of American Heritage.

5 Responses

  1. Arthur 29. Jan, 2010 12:47 pm #

    Thanks scott. I forwarded this to my colleagues on the National Film Preservation Board. Fyi, you might be interested in Marion Wong, one of the first female silent film directors, and creator of the earliest known Chinese American feature film, “The Curse of Quon Gwon.” 1916.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Curse_of_Quon_Gwon
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAxpLXP6O_M

  2. Editor 29. Jan, 2010 4:55 pm #

    Arthur, Thanks very much for reading it, passing it on, and suggesting I check out Marion Wong–I’ll be adding her to the list shortly. Best, Scott

  3. Patrick 01. Feb, 2010 5:19 pm #

    I would also like to add to the list Nancy Savoca (True Love, Dogfight, Household Saints).

  4. Patrick 03. Feb, 2010 2:04 am #

    Also forgot to mention Mimi Leder (Deep Impact, Pay It Forward)

  5. Editor 03. Feb, 2010 2:49 am #

    Thanks Patrick, just added her!

Leave a Reply