The Most Important Female Film Directors Of All Time

by Vindikcijus | created - 23 Mar 2016 | updated - 06 Mar 2018 | Public

Female film directors from all over the world!

1. Agnès Varda

Director | Sans toit ni loi

Agnès Varda was born on May 30, 1928 in Brussels, Belgium as Arlette Varda. She was a director and writer, known for Vagabond (1985), Faces Places (2017) and Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962). She was married to Jacques Demy. She died on March 29, 2019 in Paris, France.

2. Ann Hui

Director | Nu ren si shi

Born in China in 1947, Ann Hui moved to Hong Kong when she was still in her youth. After graduating in English and Comparative Literature from Hong Kong University, she spent two years at the London Film School. Returning to Hong Kong, she worked as an assistant to director King Hu before joining ...

3. Ava DuVernay

Producer | Queen Sugar

A director, producer, writer, marketer and film distributor, Ava DuVernay made her feature film debut with the documentary This in the Life (2008), a history on hip hop movement that flourished in Los Angeles in the 1990's. This was followed by series of television music documentaries which ...

4. Barbra Streisand

Soundtrack | Funny Girl

Barbra Streisand is an American singer, actress, director and producer and one of the most successful personalities in show business. She is the only person ever to receive all of the following: Oscar, Tony, Emmy, Grammy, Golden Globe, Cable Ace, National Endowment for the Arts, and Peabody awards,...

5. Bodil Ipsen

Director | Det sande ansigt

Bodil Ipsen was born on August 30, 1889 in Copenhagen, Denmark as Bodil Louise Jensen Ipsen. She was an actress and director, known for The Face of Truth (1951), Red Meadows (1945) and The Viking Watch of the Danish Seaman (1948). She was married to Ejnar Black, Emanuel Gregers, Helmuth Heinrich ...

6. Catherine Breillat

Writer | À ma soeur!

Catherine Breillat is a Paris based filmmaker and writer who became famous for her distinctively personal films on sexuality, gender trouble and sibling rivalry. Accused of being a "porno auteuriste", Breillat allowed for an unbiased view of sexuality and extended the language of mainstream movies....

7. Claire Denis

Director | High Life

Claire Denis was born on April 21, 1946 in Paris, France. She is a director and writer, known for High Life (2018), Beau travail (1999) and 35 Shots of Rum (2008).

8. Darnell Martin

Director | I Like It Like That

Darnell Martin was born on January 7, 1964 in Bronx, New York, USA. She is a director and writer, known for I Like It Like That (1994), Cadillac Records (2008) and Do the Right Thing (1989). She is married to Giuseppe Ducrot.

9. Debra Granik

Director | Winter's Bone

Debra Granik (born February 6, 1963) is an American New York City-based independent film and documentary film director and screenwriter. She is most known for 2004's Down to the Bone, which starred Vera Farmiga, 2010's Winter's Bone, which starred Jennifer Lawrence in her breakout performance and ...

10. Forugh Farrokhzad

Editor | Khaneh siah ast

Farugh Farrokhzad was primarily a poet. Indeed, she is regarded as one of the most important poets of the twentieth century in Iran, which has a millennium of poetic tradition behind it. Although she only made one film, the 22 minute so-called documentary "The House is Black", this work is ...

11. Giedre Beinoriute

Director | Kvepavimas i marmura

Giedre Beinoriute is a director and writer, known for Breaking Into Marbles (2018), Balkonas (2008) and Conversations on Serious Topics (2013).

12. Gillian Armstrong

Director | My Brilliant Career

Gillian Armstrong was born on December 18, 1950 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia as Gillian May Armstrong. She is a director and producer, known for My Brilliant Career (1979), Not Fourteen Again (1996) and Little Women (1994). She is married to John Pleffer. They have two children.

13. Greta Gerwig

Writer | Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig is an American actress, playwright, screenwriter, and director. She has collaborated with Noah Baumbach on several films, including Greenberg (2010), Frances Ha (2012), for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination, and Mistress America (2015). Gerwig made her solo directorial debut ...

14. Helma Sanders-Brahms

Director | Deutschland bleiche Mutter

Helma Sanders-Brahms was born on November 20, 1940 in Emden, Lower Saxony, Germany. She was a director and writer, known for Germany Pale Mother (1980), No Mercy, No Future (1981) and Die industrielle Reservearmee (1971). She died on May 27, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.

15. Jane Campion

Writer | The Piano

Jane Campion was born in Wellington, New Zealand, and now lives in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Having graduated with a BA in Anthropology from Victoria University of Wellington in 1975, and a BA, with a painting major, at Sydney College of the Arts in 1979, she began filmmaking in the early...

16. Kathryn Bigelow

Director | The Hurt Locker

A very talented painter, Kathryn spent two years at the San Francisco Art Institute. At 20, she won a scholarship to the Whitney Museum's Independent Study Program. She was given a studio in a former Offtrack Betting building, literally in an old bank vault, where she made art and waited to be ...

17. Kristina Buozyte

Director | Aurora

Kristina Buozyte was born on October 9, 1982 in Klaipeda, Lithuanian SSR, USSR. She is a director and writer, known for Vanishing Waves (2012), Kolekcioniere (2008) and ABCs of Death 2 (2014).

18. Lina Wertmüller

Writer | Pasqualino Settebellezze

Lina Wertmüller was born on August 14, 1928 in Rome, Lazio, Italy as Arcangela Felice Assunta Wertmüller von Elgg Spañol von Braueich. She is a writer and director, known for Seven Beauties (1975), The Basilisks (1963) and Swept Away (1974). She was previously married to Enrico Job.

19. Lisa Cholodenko

Director | The Kids Are All Right

Lisa Cholodenko earned an MFA at Columbia University Film School where she made an award-winning short film Dinner Party (1997) Her feature High Art (1998) won the National Society of Film Critics award for Ally Sheedy's performance and The Waldo Salt Screenwriting award at Sundance. Both "High Art...

20. Lone Scherfig

Director | An Education

Writer/director Lone Scherfig graduated from The National Film School of Denmark in 1984. Her first feature film, THE BIRTHDAY TRIP (1990), was selected for Panorama in Berlin, the New Directors section at MOMA in New York and won the Grand Jury Prix in Rouen. Her next film, ON OUR OWN (1998), ...

21. Margarethe von Trotta

Director | Die bleierne Zeit

Margarethe von Trotta was born in Berlin in 1942. In the 1960s she moved to Paris where she worked for film collectives, collaborating on scripts and co-directing short films. She also pursued an acclaimed acting career, starring in films by well known German directors such as Rainer Werner ...

22. Marina de Van

Writer | Dans ma peau

Marina de Van was born in France in 1971, her father being a musicologist. She studied at the Lycée Henri IV and at the Sorbonne University where she earned a degree in philosophy. Then, in 1993 she became a student at the FEMIS, the French school for cinematic studies, where she graduated in 1996....

23. Nicole Kassell

Director | The Woodsman

Nicole Kassell received a BA from Columbia University in Art History and an MFA from NYU's Film Program, where she was honored with full scholarships for two years. Her short film, "Jaime," won the DGA student female filmmaker prize, and her thesis film, "The Green Hour," premiered at the Sundance ...

24. Nora Ephron

Writer | Julie & Julia

Nora Ephron was educated at Wellesley College, Massachusetts. She was an acclaimed essayist (Crazy Salad 1975), novelist (Heartburn 1983), and had written screenplays for several popular films, all featuring strong female characters, such as anti-nuclear activist Karen Silkwood (Silkwood (1983), ...

25. Paprika Steen

Actress | Applaus

In Okay (2002), director and actress Paprika Steen shows off her multi- faceted acting talent as the loud-mouth control-freak Nete. It is Paprika Steen's first major part for which she has already been nominated for The Best Actress Award from the European Film Academy. The actress has won the ...

26. Penny Marshall

Actress | Laverne & Shirley

Penny Marshall was born Carole Penny Marshall on October 15, 1943 in the Bronx, New York. The Libra was 5' 6 1/2", with brown hair and green eyes. She was the daughter of Marjorie (Ward), a tap dance teacher, and Anthony "Tony" Marshall, an industrial film director. She was the younger sister of ...

27. Randa Haines

Producer | Antwone Fisher

Randa Haines was born on February 20, 1945 in Los Angeles, California, USA. She is a director and producer, known for Antwone Fisher (2002), Children of a Lesser God (1986) and Something About Amelia (1984).

28. Samira Makhmalbaf

Director | Panj é asr

Samira Makhmalbaf Filmmaker

Born on February 15,1980 in Tehran. At the age of eight, she played in "The Cyclist" directed by her father, Mohsen Makhmalbaf the celebrated Iranian filmmaker.

At the age of 17, she directed her first feature titled "The Apple" and She went on to become the youngest ...

29. Sofia Coppola

Actress | The Godfather: Part III

Sofia Coppola was born on May 14, 1971 in New York City, New York, USA as Sofia Carmina Coppola. She is a director, known for Somewhere (2010), Lost in Translation (2003) and Marie Antoinette (2006). She has been married to Thomas Mars since August 27, 2011. They have two children. She was ...

30. Sophie Fiennes

Director | Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami

Sophie Fiennes was born on February 12, 1967 in Ipswich, Suffolk, England as Sophia Victoria Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes. She is a director and editor, known for Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (2017), Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow (2010) and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989).

31. Susanne Bier

Director | Hævnen

Though Academy Award®, Golden Globe Award and Emmy Award winning writer and director Susanne Bier's films often play out against a wide-reaching global backdrop, their focus is intimate, carefully exploring the explosive emotions and complexities of familial bonds. This unique combination is part ...

32. Valerie Faris

Director | Little Miss Sunshine

Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris have built an impressive body of work by perpetually seeking innovative projects in a variety of mediums.

After introducing bands such as REM and The Red Hot Chili Peppers on their ground breaking MTV show The Cutting Edge, Jonathan and Valerie continued to work in ...

33. Vera Chytilová

Director | Dedictví aneb Kurvahosigutntag

Vera Chytilová was born on February 2, 1929, in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic). She studied philosophy and architecture in Brno for two years, then worked as a technical draftsman, a designer, a fashion model, a photo re-toucher, then worked as a clapper girl for Barrandov Film ...

34. Virginie Despentes

Writer | Baise-moi

Virginie Despentes was born on June 13, 1969 in Nancy, France. She is a writer and director, known for Rape Me (2000), Bye Bye Blondie (2012) and Mutantes (2009).



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