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  • Alicia Renda

10 Women in Film and TV You Might Not Know

Looking for some new films or TV shows by women to watch? Here's a list to start with.



1. Chloe Zhao: After a global adolescence the Chinese born filmmaker started her career with the short film Daughters before making her feature debut with the film Songs my Brothers Taught Me in 2015. The film explores the bond between two siblings living on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The film premiered at Sundance before showing at Cannes. She followed the film with a contemporary Western drama titled The Rider. This film earned her nominations for best feature and director at the 33rd Independent Spirit Awards as well as the Bonni Award which recognizes women directors in the middle of their careers. Zhao has plenty of plans going forward, in 2018 it was announced she would work with Amazon Studios on a biopic and with Marvel Studios as director of The Eternals.


2.Lisa Hanawalt: Starting in animation, Hanawalt is an illustrator, writer, and cartoonist. She was the production designer and producer of Bojack Horseman as well as the creator and executive producer of the new show, Tuca and Bertie. The show has received high praise, easily seperating itself from Bojack Horseman with its more positive attitude and female-focus on friendship and the daily troubles of life. Hanawat was named one of the best new designers in 2013 by Print Magazine. She has also published three illustrated books and is co-host of the podcast Baby Geniuses.


3.Alice Wu: Wu is currently gaining recognition for her Netflix romantic-comedy The Half Of It but her first film in 2005 had already established her ability to thoughtful portray the intersection of the LGBT+ and Asian-American communities. After a number of years working for Microsoft as a software engineer Wu made the switch to filmmaking. Her script for the film, Saving Face won the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment Screenwriting Award in 2001 but the film was released four years later where it was the opening film for the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. Her new film has received even more success winning the founders award for best Narrative Feature.




4. Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy: Both of these women have impressive individual careers of their own. Cole's music videos and shorts have been well received with her work showcased at MTV2 and SXSW. And Krudy has worked with numerous award-winning directors as director of photography, creative researcher and story-editor. This duo decided to join forces eight years ago. Together they founded the women's film collective, R.I.P. Dora. Through this collective the narrative short, Serena was created with an all-female production team. Their first feature film, Blow the Man Down, had its world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival. Their black comedy thriller is now available on Amazon.



5. Nahnatchka Khan: Khan is a television writer and producer. She started her career in the 90s working on Malcolm in the Middle. Since then she has created two shows for ABC, Don’t trust the B--- in apartment 23 and Fresh Off the Boat. Fresh Off the Boat was the first sitcom to center around an Asian-American family since 1994. She made her directorial debut in 2019 with the film Always Be My Maybe, starring Ali Wong and Randall Park.


6. Mati Diop: Diop's recent release Atlantics for which she became the first black female director to have her film appear competitively at Cannes, was not in fact a recent release. The film was conceptualized in 2009 when Diop made her directoral debut with the short documentary film Atlantiques. Then in 2015 while she was studying as a part of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study's Film Study Center Fellowship she wrote the script of what would become Atlantics. Finally in 2019 Atlantics was released and won the Grand Prix at Cannes. Of course, her career goes far beyond Atlantics. As director and cinematographer, she has created a number of other shorts. In addition, she is an actress most well known for her work in 35 Shots of Rum.


7. Ellen Fiske and Ellinor Hallin: This Swedish duo met while in film school. Fiske is the award-winning director of the short documentaries Lone Dads and Keep Me Safe. Hallin is a director and cinematographer whose work includes Goste, Sweden's first HBO original series as well as the feature film In i Dimman for which she was nominated for a Guldbagge award for cinematography in 2019. Together the two have made the documentary Scheme Birds which follows a young woman as she comes of age in Motherwell, Scotland. The film won both Best Feature Documentary and Best New Documentary Director at Tribeca in 2019.


8. Bora Kim: Born in South Korea, Kim came to the U.S. to get her M.F.A. in film from Columbia University. Her graduation film project The Recorder Exam won the award for Best Student Filmmaker for the Eastern Region from the Directors Guild of America. Several years later her debut film, House of Hummingbird was released. Much of the film was based on her own personal experiences. The film has collected 59 awards with Best International Narrative Feature at Tribeca in 2019 and the grand Prix from the Berlin International Film Festival being among the most notable. It will be exciting to see where Kim takes her career next.


9.Rania Attieh: Attieh is one part of the writing-directing duo comprised of herself and Daniel Garcia. Attieh was born in Tripoli, Lebanon and met Garcia during a drawing class while she was in Texas. Together the duo have made four feature films and one short. Their film H. premiered at the Venice International Film Festival before going on to show at Sundance. Their most recent film Initials S.G. premiered at Tribeca in 2019 where Attieh won the Nora Ephron Award which honors excellence in storytelling by a female writer or director.


10. Celine Sciamma: This French filmmaker wrote her first film while studying at La Femis, she then went on to turn the script into her debut film Water Lilies which screened under the category Un Certain Regard at Cannes. She then went on to direct her first short film, Pauline, as part as a goverment sponsered program against homophobia. Afterwhich she made two more feature films, Tomboy and Girlhood. Her most recent film, Portrait of a Lady of Fire, premiered at Cannes where it won the Queer Palm Award and the award for Best Screenplay. Her work persistently pursues themes of gender fluidity and sexuality.


How many of these filmmakers did you know? I hope this list has introduced at least one new filmmaker or film to add to your watch later.

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