Twelve Talented Female Directors Under Fifty

Alice Guy Blatche may have made the first narrative film in 1896, but for many years there was a dearth of female directors around the world. Though historically Hollywood was exclusively a male bastion when it came to directing, there were a few exceptions - Ida Lupino (The Bigamist; The Hitch-Hiker) and Dorothy Azner (Dance Girl Dance) to name a few. The controversial Leni Riefenstahl was making films in Germany in the 1930s; Maya Deren and Shirley Clarke made experimental films in the nineteen forties, fifties, and sixties; Agnes Varda made Cleo From 5 to 7 and others in the sixties, and Chantel Akerman, Margarethe von Trotta, Diane Kurys, Joan Micklin Silver, Barbara Kopple, Lina Wertmuller, Penelope Spheeris, and others, did the same in the seventies, but the landscape did not really begin to change for women until the 1980s.

Since that time a host of other women have created a wide range of independent and studio films around the world. Names like Lizzie Borden, Julie Dash, Allison Anders, Jane Campion, Gillian Armstrong, Danielle Thompson, Sally Potter, Catherine Bigelow, Leni Riefenstahl, Joan Micklin Silver, Antonia Bird, Agnieszka Holland, Patty Jenkins, Tamara Jenkins, Isabel Coixet, Lone Scherfig, Patricia Rozema, Andrea Arnold, Mira Nair, Catherine Breillat, Susanne Bier, Nicole Holofcener, Claire Denis, and Marleen Gorris have, in their own way, contributed to cinema, making seminal films, winning awards, their efforts, talent, and skill continuing to pave the way for their fellow female directors who followed.

The world of cinema is filled with fresh female voices from a host of countries. The following list represents twelve of the top female directors under the age of fifty years old. Among them are some of the finest directors working today.

1. Sarah Polley (age 32) Candien who began acting at age six and directed her first stunning feature, Away from Her (2007) at age twenty seven, Polley is coming out with her second feature, Take This Waltz, this year.

2.Anna Bolden (age 35) Part of the writing/directing/producing duo (with Ryan Fleck) behind the films Half Nelson (2006); Sugar (2009); and It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010).

3.  Miranda July (age 37) July’s follow up to her debut feature Me You and Everyone You know (2005) is The Future, currently playing in theaters.

4. Sophia Coppola (age 40) After a less than stellar acting career that included a famously panned performance in her father’s Godfather III, Coppola directed her first feature The Virgin Suicides (1999) at age 28, and won critical acclaim with Lost in Translation (2003). Her other films include Marie Antoinette (2006) and Somewhere (2010).

5. Lynne Ramsey (age 42) Scottish native behind Ratcatcher (1999); Morvern Callar (2002) and her latest, We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011).

6. Cate Shortland (age 43) This Australian native has only made one feature, the critically acclaimed Somersault (2004) - the film that helped launch, or at least propel the careers of Abby Cornish and Sam Worthington. Since that time Shortland directed the TV Movie The Silence (2006), and is currently in post-production on Lore, a period piece set in Germany.

7. Lucretia Martel (age 45) Highly acclaimed Argentinian director responsible for The Headless Woman (2008); Holy Girl (2004); and The Swamp (2001).

8. Kelly Reichardt (age 46) Oregon native Reichardt has made two films with actress Michelle Williams, Meek’s Cutoff (2010) and Wendy and Lucy (2008). Her debut feature was titled Old Joy (2006).

9. Lisa Chodolenko (age 47) Openly gay director, who had a big bit in American theaters with last years The Kids Are All Right. Her work includes Laurel Canyon (2002); and High Art (1998).

10.Agnes Jaoui (age 47) Known mainly as an actor, Jaooui has made Parlez-moi de la pluie (2008); Look at Me (2004) The Taste of Others (2000)

11. Rebecca Miller (age 49) Daughter of famed playwrite Arthur, the former actor Miller’s output includes The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009); The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005); Personal Velocity (2002); and Angela (1995);

12. Tamara Jenkins (age 49) After her debut The Slums of Beverly Hills (1998), it took Jenkins nine years to make a second film. The result was 2007s The Savages, which starred Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney.

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