The statistics show that prejudice concerned with women filmmakers proves itself. Although a number of female film graduates is equal to male, only 5% women are working in Hollywood as film directors. The British Film Institute statistical yearbook confirms the conclusion by giving permanently low percentage of women as film directors settled on a level of approximately 15 percent. However, these eight women managed to crush the wall and prove others that they deserve admiration.

 

Alexandra Henry

Alexandra Henry is an independent New York-based creative producer. Her recent work, which brought her popularity is “Street Heroines”, a documentary about female graffiti artists. She considered them to be an important issue of discussions since their activity transforms the urban environment in a more colourful and pleasant habitat. From raising socio-political questions to sharing their opinions they use art as a bat for crushing social ignorance.

Alexandra Henry (to the right) and Swoon (graffiti artist, to the left)

A choir of street artists reveals the struggle for living on the contemporary male-oriented graffiti arena, where a lack of recognition and appreciation is usually met in this subculture. In order to pursue a shooting process, Alexandra Henry had to meet several representatives of the urban art movement and talk about their job, its peculiarities and everyday challenges. All of the stories are certainly unique and extraordinary, Henry managed to take interview from artists with the unalike background (e.g., these women come from 10 different countries, including Mexico and Japan). However, they have one point in common: the struggle for creative space.

The “Street Heroines” aims to encourage more women to develop their creative initiative and continue making social change.

 

Kim Longinotto

Kim Longinotto is a British documentary filmmaker, known for pushing the issue of female victims of oppression and discrimination.  Her documentaries belong to observatorial cinema dimension, which means they are missing ordinary documentary techniques such as planning, scripting, narration and interviewing. What makes her films specific is a unique feeling of women’s presence which differs markedly from another documentary genre.

In her recent documentary “Dreamcatcher” there’s a story of a former teenage prostitute who decided to stop the lawlessness and become an influential advocate to help others. Her own story inspires those who seem to give up their dream. The film explores such issues as neglect, violence, and exploitation, which makes thousands of girls think that prostitution is the only way to survive.

 

Dee Rees

New York University film program graduate is now a successful American scriptwriter and director mostly known for her films “Pariah”, “Bessie” and “Mudbound”. “Pariah” is a story about one teenage conflicting identities who risks friendship and family searching for sexual expression. Dees named the film semi-autobiographical as it illustrates the struggles of herself in young age. During the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, it won Excellence in Cinematography Award and overall received positive critical acclaim.

In 2008 Dee Rees also released a documentary “Eventual Salvation”, which was broadcasted on the Sundance channel and told the story of American-born, 80-year-old woman who returns to Liberia aiming to rebuild her house and community after a devastating Liberian civil war.

 

Sarah Polley

Sarah Polley is a famous Canadian actress, writer, director and political activist. She became famous in early childhood, when was starring in TV series “Road to Avonlea”. Since that she continued her actress career and also tried herself as a scriptwriter and producer.

As a director, she debuted in 2006 with “Away from Her”, drama film, based on the short story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain”. The film was highly appreciated by the critics, it won a Genie Award for Best Achievement in Direction and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Sarah Polly (to the left) during shooting “Stories We Tell”

In 2012 world sees her documentary “Stories We Tell“, which examines her family relations and the way the truth exists in all the variety of stories her relatives tell. The narration is tied to the investigation of secrets kept by the storytellers. Visions of family mythology make together a diverse picture with more questions than answers. All in all, “Stories We Tell” is an attempt to explore nature of truth and memory through the lens of a particular family story.

 

Abigail Disney

Abigail was born and raised in a family with close ties to cinematography. Her grandfather was Roy O. Disney, co-founder of The Walt Disney Company with her great uncle Walt Disney.

She started her career of a filmmaker with a documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” telling a story of a peace movement Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace. The head of the movement Leymah Gbowee organized both Christian and Muslim women of Liberia to pray for peace and hold nonviolent protests against war and government politics. The film received positive reviews and won the award for Best Documentary at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival.

Hilary Clinton and Abigail Disney during The New York Women’s Foundation 2012 Celebrating Women Breakfast

In her recent documentary “The Armor of Light” Abigail raises the question of growing gun violence in the US. The question is being explored through the moral lense of two different women: anti-abortion and political activist and a mother of a teenager being killed in Florida. This film is an overview of the US fractured political culture which carries a message that people of opposite opinions may always find a common ground.

 

Ava DuVernay

American director, screenwriter and film distributor Ava DuVernay has shown herself to be a passionate activist for destroying traditional forms of filmmaking and distribution. In 2012 she was the first African-American woman to win the Best Director Prize for the drama “Middle of Nowhere” about a woman who learns to live a new life after her husband gets an 8-year imprisonment sentence.

Her most recent work is a documentary “13th”, which opened the New York Film Festival in 2016. Choosing the United States criminal justice system as a core question, DuVernay picks the title “13th” after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibited slavery and forced labour unless as punishment for a crime. DuVernay argues that 25 percent of the world prisoners who are the US prisoners and the way they are being cared is an example how slavery is perpetuated through mass incarceration in the modern world.  The film also features well-known political activist and advocates who also share their point of view.

 

Dawn Porter

Award-winning American documentary filmmaker started her directorial career from 2013 film “Gideon’s Army” about three black public defenders working in the South America. The core question the film sets regards to the possibility of making “justice for all” a reality. The film won several awards and was even nominated for an Emmy Award and an Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Her latest film “Trapped” premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2016 shows the struggle of doctors who perform abortions and lawyers fighting against so-called “TRAP-laws”. Porter confessed that to make the film highlighting this topic was a personal duty for her since she witnessed the only one abortion clinic in the Mississippi state. The film received favourable reviews from the audience and has a maximum score on Rotten Tomatoes.

 

Aslaug Holm

Aslaug Holm is a Norwegian cinematographer who started her cinema career as a scriptwriter for film “Oljeberget” on the reasons for welfare in Norway where the prime minister Jens Stoltenberg was starring. She has also worked as a photographer in several other projects but later decided to try herself as a documentary director.

In 2015 Holm released documentary “Brothers” with her own two sons growing old on the camera. For almost 8 years she has been filming their everyday life with its small pleasures and disappointments. The film brought Aslaug an extraordinary popularity in Norway and in other counties and made her among most discussed topics in the cultural sphere. In an interview, Holm explains the idea behind the documentary as an attempt to show the enchantment of every moment the life brings and enjoying being here and now. While discussion of the moral side of the filming is still being held, “Brothers” has already brought Holm Amanda Award for Best Director.

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