Modern feminism is a third wave of effort to make woman matter. Documentaries devoted to this topic succeed in depicting the whole complexity and controversial nature of the movement. Changing angles, heroes, and issues, all of them stand on one thing – the woman has to fight. Here are 12 feminist documentaries you must see to become a witness of this severe struggle.


She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry


The movie captures the thrilling and spontaneous emergence of the second wave of the feminist movement from 1966 to 1971. The mix of archival records and powerful performance genuinely reveals the devoted maximalism and root controversy that underlay this process created a world-wide revolution. It has been a unique time when intellectuals and radicals shared the same idea – woman matters. Meanwhile, the documentary features manifestos of women who stood at the roots of feminism. Thus, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry seems like a mosaic of dozens of ”The Women” acting around the whole country. This documentary about the past, inspiring and in some sense directing, explains the present essence of newly challenged feminists.


Audrie & Daisy

Audrie & Daisy

Audrie & Daisy, a modern-day ‘Scarlet Letter’ story, shows that today the field, where a woman can be a victim and has to defend herself, has become much broader. While telling the tragic stories of two girls abused by their male mates, the documentary focuses on the tendency of online bulling, as well as the injustice and ruthlessness of social media to those who try to protect themselves, their honor and dignity after sexual assaults. Consequently, the directors being teenagers’ parents desired to show the modern shift in kids’ attitude to sexual issues and identity.


Women’s List

Women's List documentary

The documentary is an episode of the American Masters series devoted to the struggling individuals of the world. It presents 15 examples of courageous and effective fight with the women’s discrimination in the career field. Heroes of this movie – the former U.S. Secretary of State, pilot, comedian, scientist, and so on – show that women can themselves move the limits and the boundaries today. As one of the heroines said, ”If I was breaking a rule, I thought the rule did not make any sense.” Cinematographer tried to approach the issue personally, intimately. Each woman shares a comic and pivotal situation from her routine life. These small talks referred to ”what women aren’t supposed to do” category defined by the society, but they did. And guess what? No one died.


Miss Representation


Miss Representation is a stand-up against sexism. Modern media have become hotbeds of discriminatory stereotypes and labeling in the representation of female characters. The documentary shows that woman’s power still grows from the perception of her sexuality and beauty. Who cares about her capability to run the business if she is or is not physically and sexually attractive, young and so on? Who says that? The media, rule setters of the modern society.  The creators combined the interviews of adolescent girls and female idols like Condoleezza Rice to show the magnitude of the problem and encourage society to make drastic changes.


Growing up Coy

Once a smiling first-grader Coy, who loved bright dresses and pink color, was no longer allowed to use the female bathroom at school. Why? She was born male and became a transgender at the age of 18 months. Her parents showed respect to their child’s gender identity. Consequently, the documentary tells how they initiated the struggle for her acceptance within American discriminating society. The film reflects the contemporary face of feminism, which realizes that its fight ground is broader than just heterosexual inequality.


The Testimony

The Testimony depicts cruelty to a woman as one of the faces of war. The subject of the short film is the Minova Trial, the largest rape trial in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s history. For a long time Congolese soldiers have raped hundreds of women among their own citizens. The life chronicles of the victims and the guilty show a preserved woman’s spiritual stamina during the sovereign of impunity.


Finding Home

Finding Home is a rare example of depicting woman in the transformation of a pitying victim into a brutal survivor treated as a role model.  The story tells about a long path of Cambodian women who went through sex slavery and finally found their home, a symbol of safety, peace, and acceptance. Each of these heroines has her own story of horrific abuses with its own afterwards challenges. The common is that all of them need to find a way to come back to normal and feel defended, to respect themselves after exploitation, to trust men again. A three-year path from despondency to hope.


Hot Girls Wanted

The movie elaborates the issue of amateur teen porn. Considering this, the director tried to reveal why young women from 18 to 25 enter this industry. The footage comprises excerpts from extreme videos. Hence, the documentary shows how easily literally anyone can exploit women’s body and naiveness in the digital world


The Hunting Ground

The documentary reveals two key goals feminist fight for – to be safe and to be heard. The story captures the exposure of rape in the university campuses, the insecurity of the victims and the impunity of the perpetrators. How easy it is for a woman to become an object of hunt and how difficult it is to hunt her offenders. This is the Hunting Ground.

Also, creating idols is a popular approach of feminist fighting.


Queen Mimi

This documentary praises Marie Haist who spent 35 years of her life being homeless. Decades ago she transformed from divorced woman in her 50’s on the streets into always smiling, chanting ‘’Mimi’’, still living on the plastic chair between rows of washing machines in Santa Monica.  Meanwhile, many of the Hollywood stars call Mimi their dear friend. Chic restaurants treat her as an important client. ‘’When you feel like a queen, even a laundromat can be a palace’’, says film slogan. Hence, people called her the Queen of Montana Avenue.  The story of this 89-year old lady teaches how to let yesterday go, do not care about tomorrow, and live in today.


A Ballerina’s Tale

The inspiring story of Misty Copeland, principal dancer of American Ballet Theatre, is literally a path through the thorns to the stars. After ‘’Black Swan’’ by Aronofski no one doubts the severeness of the ballet world. But what if you are an African American? How to succeed, when your challenge is not only ruthless competition and painful career-threatening traumas, but also your racial identity and the exceptional characteristics of your body? Here comes exceptional feature of the script. The Copeland’s story is developing within the wide framework of Afro-American culture and mentality, not just her narrow, personal background. This challenge is important since ballerina fought not only for herself as an individual. She violated the сenturies-old standards opening the route for the whole community.


What happened, Ms Simone?

Once feminist Greer said: ‘’Nina Simone is an evidence that female genius is real’’. The documentary reveals how a popular musician used her talent for propaganda of woman’s power and dignity, freedom from racial discrimination. The archival footage and excerpts from interviews show that Simone tried to reflect through her voice the pain of the whole movement. Hence, the creator used the unreleased records and facts.

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