“In 2016, women comprised 17% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films.” That comes directly from the Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film’s annual report, The Celluloid Ceiling. You can read the full report here, but its findings are pretty dismal. Women in cinema, particularly in the mainstream film market, are hard to find behind the most anticipated films of the year. So for 2017, let’s spotlight some of the newest film releases, big or small, that have women at the helm.
Director Ceyda Torun takes what seems to be a very simple topic, cats, and applies a profoundly observational lens. KEDi follows several cats who make their home on the streets of Istanbul, but more importantly, it follows the feline subjects’ relationships with the people of the city. The cinematography is interesting, but the editing is what truly makes KEDi an fascinating watch, as it displays the lives of these cats without creating an overlying sympathy towards their “homelessness.” You can find the trailer and a list of opening dates here.
Finally getting its stateside release in April, Cezanne and I covers the real bond between writer Emile Zola and painter Paul Cezanne. This historical drama has received mixed reviews overseas, but we’re invested in the stunning cinematography by Jean-Marie Dreujou (Two Brothers) and the direction from writer/director Danièle Thompson. Watch the trailer with english subtitles here.
Horror anthologies continue their domination of the independent horror scene with XX. Roxanne Benjamin (Southbound), Karyn Kusama (The Invitation), Annie Clark (better known by her stage name, St. Vincent) and Jovanka Vuckovic, take the helm for short films that run from strange to outright body horror. Wrapping around the segments is a piece by award-winning animator, Sofia Carrillo. Four tales of terror from some of the most visually diverse storytellers in the short horror scene? We’re too excited! You can catch the trailer and a list of theaters where it is now playing here.
Based on the true story of Sir Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams Khama, A United Kingdom explores the issues surrounding their marriage, not only as an interracial couple but as citizens of two feuding countries. David Oyelowo (Selma) and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) are excellent performers and the trailer, which you can watch here, indicates a powerful film that touches upon racism without being dominated by the interracial aspects of the Khama’s marriage. Plus, we’ve been clamoring for another film from Amma Asante after her stunning period drama Belle. A United Kingdom is currently in theaters, so be sure to catch it soon!
Straight out of its audience-fainting premiere at TIFF, Raw strikes an uneasy balance of disgust and horror as a young woman undergoes a mysterious illness. Writer/director Julia Ducournau makes her feature film debut with this story of young Justine (Garance Marillier), a vegetarian forced to consume meat during hazing at veterinary school. If you’re extremely curious as to what you’re in for, you can seek out the red band trailer, as it conveys more of the tone, but you can watch the green band trailer here in preparation of its March 10th release.
The Zookeeper’s Wife is an adaptation of the novel by the same name. It tells the story of Antonina and Jan Zabinski, two zoo owners who use their land to assist the Polish underground with sheltering Jewish people escaping the Warsaw ghetto. Written by Angela Workman (War Bride) and directed by Niki Caro (North Country), and with cinematography from Andrij Parekh (Blue Valentine), The Zookeeper’s Wife looks to be the perfect blend of heartwarming story and visual delight. Watch the trailer before its late March release date here.
Making her solo film debut in June, Wonder Woman is the second time that a female director has been given the reins to a major comic book property. Patty Jenkins (Monster) takes the origin story of Diana Prince, warrior princess and demigoddess. Diana (Gal Gadot) leaves the island of Themyscira, where she was born, alongside an American pilot (Chris Pine) to help put an end to an epic battle and discover her true destiny. Despite the critical failure of Batman v Superman, expectations are much higher for Wonder Woman, as it diverges from the completely serious tone of previous DC Universe films without sacrificing any of the action, as seen in the latest trailer here.
After lengthy fundraising, Loving Vincent will finally grace US movie audiences sometime this year. The world’s first entirely painted animated film, the piece features the works of Vincent Van Gogh, commenting on his life and his mysterious death. Co-directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman take a radical approach to the story of one of the most mysterious artists of the 20th century, with each frame as its own work of art. The release date is still to be determined, but the trailer can be viewed here.
Director So-yong Kim (For Ellen) takes a unique look at female friendship with Lovesong. Part road film, part meditation, the film explores the story of Sarah (Riley Keough) and Mindy (Jena Malone) as they navigate their emotions during a tumultuous trip that reshapes the very fabric of their friendship. The movie features a subtly crafted screenplay and stunning cinematography by Kat Westergaard (Go for Sisters) and Guy Godfree (Natasha), which you can see in the trailer here. Lovesong may be one of those gems that slip by unsuspecting audiences. In fact, it’s in theaters now.
We have to finish our list with the female star-studded, epic comedy, Rock That Body. Staring Scarlett Johansson, Zoë Kravitz, Ilana Glazer, and Demi Moore, the film is sure to be a hit, with Broad City writer, Lucia Aniello at the helm. The story revolves around 5 friends who find a dead male stripper during a bachelorette weekend. Ugh. Once again, it pains us that there’s no trailer, but the film is slated for a June release.
We’re sure we missed a few. So, feel free to share which female-directed films you’re most excited about this year!