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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Film recommendations for Women’s History Month

While March may be winding down, there are still plenty of women to honor in the last week of Women’s History Month, especially the female helmers within the film industry.

Greta Gerwig has made a name for herself as a solo director in recent years. As the director of 2023’s highest-grossing film “Barbie” and other award-winning films, Gerwig has continuously displayed her prowess in creating compelling films about women through her unique creative vision.

Gerwig’s 2017 solo directorial debut “Lady Bird” is a coming-of-age comedy-drama centered around high school senior Christine McPherson, who goes by Lady Bird. With her family’s financial hardships, an overcrowded house, and her expensive Catholic private school, Lady Bird longs to leave Sacramento, Calif. to go to college on the East Coast. Her relationship with her mother is strained, and as two headstrong women, they don’t see eye-to-eye.

As Lady Bird navigates new romances, changing friendships and college applications, she learns important lessons about life as a young woman. “Lady Bird” is a testament to the universal struggle of adolescence.

Céline Sciamma is a French director whose work often features themes related to the fluidity of gender and sexual identity. As a lesbian and feminist, her films do not shy away from being unapologetically Queer or highlighting the female gaze.

Set in late 18th century France, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is an evocative romantic masterpiece that portrays a poignant love story between an aristocrat and the woman commissioned to paint her. When painter Marianne is asked about one of her paintings by a student, she reminisces on the love that was torn away from her years ago with Héloïse.

Marianne and Héloïse’s relationship is artfully depicted by Sciamma as entirely human and passionate. Her film conveys a romance between two women filled with desire and love for one another. She accomplishes this with nothing short of cinematic mastery and incredible directing.

Julie Dash made history as the first African-American female director to have a full-length feature film be theatrically released in the United States. Though she directed several short films, “Daughters of the Dust” was her first full-length film and received numerous honors for its visually stunning cinematography and its cultural and historical significance.

“Daughters of the Dust” presents the story of three generations of Gullah women in the Peazant family as they make preparations to migrate off the island that they built their lives on. Set on Saint Helena Island off the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina, the film draws on Gullah culture and dialogue to form a completely immersive experience that is still authentic to the group today.

Women are traditionally underrepresented in key behind-the-scenes roles in Hollywood. While there are more female directors being recognized than in the past, USC Annenberg and San Diego State report that, among the 100 top-grossing films of 2023, only 12 to 14 percent of directors were women. [1] 

Annenberg’s study shows that the percentage of women in top directing roles has not even grown 10 percent since 2007. [1] While there are many outstanding films directed by women today, it illustrates just how far the film industry still has to go to bridge the gender inequity in film productions.

This Women’s History Month, support the women who have succeeded in a male-dominated industry and call for equal opportunity for female directors. They deserve the same acclaim and acknowledgement as their male counterparts.



[1] https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/women-directors-2023-gender-diversity-reports-1235777982/