Celebrating female filmmakers for International Women’s Day

Rachel Patz, Staff Writer

As International Women’s Day approaches, many individuals are doubtless anticipating the chance to celebrate themselves or a loved one on March 8. We believe the day of observance is the perfect opportunity for Arts & Entertainment to celebrate the work of women in the arts, as there is perhaps no field that displays their virtuosity better than the world of film.

With this in mind, here is a list of some past and present female filmmakers who have excelled and are excelling at their craft.

Jennifer Kent

Born in Brisbane, Australia, Kent has said that she put on her first play when she was seven. Originally an actor, Kent transitioned to the role of director for the lauded horror film “The Babadook,” and followed its release a few years later with the highly praised, but visually controversial film “The Nightingale.” The Babadook character from Kent’s first full-length film eventually outstripped the movie’s success and became part of society’s pop culture lexicon.

Kathleen Collins

Writer, poet and playwright, educator and activist, Collins possessed many talents. Although she only directed two films in her lifetime, Collins’ directorial work had a significant impact on the way African American women were portrayed in American cinema. The first African American woman to direct a feature-length film since the 1920s, Collins’ film “Losing Ground” won first prize at the Figueroa International Film Festival in Portugal. Neither of Collins’ films ever received a theatrical release, but they were eventually restored and returned to the public by Collins’ daughter, Nina Collins. Disregarded in Collins’ lifetime, “Losing Ground” was finally recognized for the masterpiece it is and selected for preservation by the National Film Registry in 2020.

Chloe Zhao

Having directed some of the most emotionally compelling films of the past five years, Chloe Zhao’s current reality as a highly lauded director is all the more astonishing considering she was raised by the general manager of a steel company. Often using everyday non-actors for shoots, Zhao’s films typically explore everyday situations of underrepresented groups, with her first two films, “Songs My Brother’s Taught Me” and “The Rider” garnering numerous nominations and praise from movie critics. Most recently, Zhao won a Golden Globe Award for Best Director for her latest film “Nomadland,” making her the first woman of Asian heritage to be so recognized and the second woman overall. Going forward, Zhao is set to break into the comic book universe by directing the upcoming Marvel film “Eternals,” as well as directing a historical western for Amazon Studios about Bass Reeves, the first black American Deputy Marshall.

Ava DuVernay

After establishing herself in the public relations industry, DuVernay decided to break into the world of film. Withdrawing $6,000 from her bank account, DuVernay created “Saturday Night Life,” a short film based upon the life of her own mother. Her second feature-length film, “Middle of Nowhere,” earned her a directing award in the dramatic section of the Sundance Film Festival, and she has since gone on to direct works such as “Selma,” “13th,” and “A Wrinkle in Time.”

Lena Dunham

The world was introduced to this creative VIP when the show “Girls” premiered on HBO. Prior to its release, she traveled the USA to promote her adolescent tragicomedy “Tiny Furniture,” which was compared to the writings of author John Cheever or “Seinfeld” creator Larry David in a New York Times article. Graduating from Oberlin College in Ohio with a degree in creative writing, Dunham directed 19 episodes of “Girls,” in addition to playing one of the main characters, and her next work is eagerly anticipated by critics and cinema fans alike.

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