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Home / Entertainment / Female filmmakers in Hollywood who have shot into the spotlight and are here to stay

Female filmmakers in Hollywood who have shot into the spotlight and are here to stay

Tent-pole films to top awards — here are our picks on the eve of Women’s Day



Patty Jenkins 

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Patty Jenkins (left) made a mark with her debut feature Monster that established her as a new voice to watch out for and earned Charlize Theron a Best Actress Oscar. But it took her another 14 years to direct a tent-pole film. With Wonder Woman, Jenkins, now 48, not only afforded a boost of adrenaline to a fading DC cinematic universe, but also gave us a super heroine (played winningly by Gal Gadot) that we could root for, inspiring millions of young girls in the process.
Wonder Woman was a smash hit, grossing a whopping $822 million worldwide. With its sequel Wonder Woman 1984, scheduled to release this summer, Jenkins — who spent a fruitful decade on TV directing the likes of Arrested Development, The Killing and Entourage before Wonder Woman happened — has cracked open another glass ceiling, reportedly being paid between $7 million and $9 million to direct the sequel, a record salary for a female filmmaker. But what we love her most for was her inimitable takedown of Titanic man James Cameron who referred to Wonder Woman as a “step backwards”. Jenkins’s kickass reply? “James Cameron’s inability to understand what Wonder Woman is, or stands for, to women all over the world is unsurprising as, though, he is a great filmmaker, he is not a woman.”
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Patty Jenkins (left) made a mark with her debut feature Monster that established her as a new voice to watch out for and earned Charlize Theron a Best Actress Oscar. But it took her another 14 years to direct a tent-pole film. With Wonder Woman, Jenkins, now 48, not only afforded a boost of adrenaline to a fading DC cinematic universe, but also gave us a super heroine (played winningly by Gal Gadot) that we could root for, inspiring millions of young girls in the process. Wonder Woman was a smash hit, grossing a whopping $822 million worldwide. With its sequel Wonder Woman 1984, scheduled to release this summer, Jenkins — who spent a fruitful decade on TV directing the likes of Arrested Development, The Killing and Entourage before Wonder Woman happened — has cracked open another glass ceiling, reportedly being paid between $7 million and $9 million to direct the sequel, a record salary for a female filmmaker. But what we love her most for was her inimitable takedown of Titanic man James Cameron who referred to Wonder Woman as a “step backwards”. Jenkins’s kickass reply? “James Cameron’s inability to understand what Wonder Woman is, or stands for, to women all over the world is unsurprising as, though, he is a great filmmaker, he is not a woman.”
Sourced by The Telegraph

Chloe Zhao

Only the second female filmmaker after Anna Boden — who directed Captain Marvel last year — to helm a big-ticket Marvel movie, Chloe Zhao directs November superhero film The Eternals, frontlined by Angelina Jolie. But even before her big break, the Beijing-born filmmaker was a name to reckon with, earning plaudits for her 2017 film The Rider that was screened at Cannes and won the festival’s Art Cinema Award. The Rider that explored themes of resilience and mostly used non-actors, both humanised and reinvented the Western and we can’t wait to watch what the 37-year-old Zhao brings to the MCU with The Eternals. “I think Chloe is going to make a special Marvel film,” is what Jolie has said about her director.
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Only the second female filmmaker after Anna Boden — who directed Captain Marvel last year — to helm a big-ticket Marvel movie, Chloe Zhao directs November superhero film The Eternals, frontlined by Angelina Jolie. But even before her big break, the Beijing-born filmmaker was a name to reckon with, earning plaudits for her 2017 film The Rider that was screened at Cannes and won the festival’s Art Cinema Award. The Rider that explored themes of resilience and mostly used non-actors, both humanised and reinvented the Western and we can’t wait to watch what the 37-year-old Zhao brings to the MCU with The Eternals. “I think Chloe is going to make a special Marvel film,” is what Jolie has said about her director.
Sourced by The Telegraph

Cate Shortland

Cate Shortland is yet another female filmmaker who will be directing a tent- pole superhero film this year. Shortland, 51, helms Black Widow, with Scarlett Johansson playing the eponymous MCU superhero. Chosen out of 70-odd directors over a search of a year-and-a-half, Shortland — who has been in the business for over two decades and is best known for directing the Nazi drama Lore — had a fan in Johansson who pushed for her. The Australian filmmaker, who has illustrated a strong eye for human emotions as well the ability to deliver big drama, has consistently directed films featuring strong 
female leads.
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Cate Shortland is yet another female filmmaker who will be directing a tent- pole superhero film this year. Shortland, 51, helms Black Widow, with Scarlett Johansson playing the eponymous MCU superhero. Chosen out of 70-odd directors over a search of a year-and-a-half, Shortland — who has been in the business for over two decades and is best known for directing the Nazi drama Lore — had a fan in Johansson who pushed for her. The Australian filmmaker, who has illustrated a strong eye for human emotions as well the ability to deliver big drama, has consistently directed films featuring strong female leads.
Sourced by The Telegraph

Cathy Yan

Birds of Prey, anti-hero Harley Quinn’s girl gang spin-off movie, released to a largely positive response, with praise coming in for its young director Cathy Yan (right) and a box-office haul of $190 million. The 33-year-old former journalist who “stumbled upon” a career in filmmaking, has virtually come in from nowhere to helm one of the biggest films of the year. Yan’s directorial debut Dead Pigs, a satirical look at a rapidly modernising Shanghai, won praise at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, but Birds of Prey — that reportedly saw her being picked from a bunch of “more experienced male directors” —  has catapulted Yan, who calls herself “a global wanderer,” into the big league.
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Birds of Prey, anti-hero Harley Quinn’s girl gang spin-off movie, released to a largely positive response, with praise coming in for its young director Cathy Yan (right) and a box-office haul of $190 million. The 33-year-old former journalist who “stumbled upon” a career in filmmaking, has virtually come in from nowhere to helm one of the biggest films of the year. Yan’s directorial debut Dead Pigs, a satirical look at a rapidly modernising Shanghai, won praise at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, but Birds of Prey — that reportedly saw her being picked from a bunch of “more experienced male directors” — has catapulted Yan, who calls herself “a global wanderer,” into the big league.
Sourced by The Telegraph

Niki Caro

More and more big studios are signing up women to helm their big-ticket films. The latest on the list is Niki Caro who has been brought in by Disney to direct Mulan, a live-action version of the studio’s 1998 animated film of the same name that’s based on the Chinese folklore called The Ballad of Mulan. “It’s about telling a good story, but it’s also filmmaking on steroids,” Caro, 53, has said about her experience of directing Mulan that releases this month and has been mounted on a $200-million budget. The filmmaker, who has a couple of indie films to her credit, worked with a largely female crew on Mulan and has been vocal about the need for more women filmmakers, saying, “When I directed North Country in 2005, only four per cent of directors were women. Fifteen years on, that hasn’t changed.”
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More and more big studios are signing up women to helm their big-ticket films. The latest on the list is Niki Caro who has been brought in by Disney to direct Mulan, a live-action version of the studio’s 1998 animated film of the same name that’s based on the Chinese folklore called The Ballad of Mulan. “It’s about telling a good story, but it’s also filmmaking on steroids,” Caro, 53, has said about her experience of directing Mulan that releases this month and has been mounted on a $200-million budget. The filmmaker, who has a couple of indie films to her credit, worked with a largely female crew on Mulan and has been vocal about the need for more women filmmakers, saying, “When I directed North Country in 2005, only four per cent of directors were women. Fifteen years on, that hasn’t changed.”
Sourced by The Telegraph

Autumn De Wilde

Autumn de Wilde — better known for portraiture photography and for directing a few music videos — made her feature directorial debut last month with a retelling of the Jane Austen classic Emma. The film may not have made a big dent at the box office, but de Wilde, 49, was lauded for bucking convention in her treatment of the classic, with actor Bill Nighy, who plays the key character of Mr Woodhouse in the film, singling out de Wilde for her “fresh perspective” and “musical sensibilities”. Most reviews have praised de Wilde’s filmmaking skills as “stylish” and “original” and we can’t wait to see what she does next.
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Autumn de Wilde — better known for portraiture photography and for directing a few music videos — made her feature directorial debut last month with a retelling of the Jane Austen classic Emma. The film may not have made a big dent at the box office, but de Wilde, 49, was lauded for bucking convention in her treatment of the classic, with actor Bill Nighy, who plays the key character of Mr Woodhouse in the film, singling out de Wilde for her “fresh perspective” and “musical sensibilities”. Most reviews have praised de Wilde’s filmmaking skills as “stylish” and “original” and we can’t wait to see what she does next.
Sourced by The Telegraph

Nia DaCosta

Jordan Peele, the man behind seminal horror films like Get Out and Us, may be putting money and muscle behind Candyman, but the responsibility to bring alive the 2020 reboot of the urban legend is on the shoulders of Nia DaCosta. At just 29, the young filmmaker has already shown immense potential with her breakout 2019 directorial Little Woods and has always been vocal about her desire to tell “diverse” and “inclusive” stories and represent women in ways that haven’t been seen on screen before. While Candyman will showcase her ability to direct a film on the big stage, we are more excited about the “intimate stories” that DaCosta hopes to tell through her future films. What else you should know? The Tribeca Film Festival has described her as “a name you’re going to need to get familiar with”.
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Jordan Peele, the man behind seminal horror films like Get Out and Us, may be putting money and muscle behind Candyman, but the responsibility to bring alive the 2020 reboot of the urban legend is on the shoulders of Nia DaCosta. At just 29, the young filmmaker has already shown immense potential with her breakout 2019 directorial Little Woods and has always been vocal about her desire to tell “diverse” and “inclusive” stories and represent women in ways that haven’t been seen on screen before. While Candyman will showcase her ability to direct a film on the big stage, we are more excited about the “intimate stories” that DaCosta hopes to tell through her future films. What else you should know? The Tribeca Film Festival has described her as “a name you’re going to need to get familiar with”.
Sourced by The Telegraph

Women with a voice

1.  Greta Gerwig

The face of many a mumblecore indie is today one of the freshest voices behind the Holly camera, bringing in both sensibility and sensitivity to her films. As a director, both Greta Gerwig’s films — 
Lady Bird and Little Women — have earned Academy Award nominations for Best Film, with the 36-year-old being nominated for a Best Director Oscar for Lady Bird. Whether it’s her empathetic tempering of a coming-of-age story in Lady Bird or the individual nuances she lent to a classic like Little Women, Gerwig has established herself as someone with a fully formed filmmaking talent that mines a lot from her own life experiences. She displays a keen understanding of the dynamics of family, the pangs of growing up and most importantly, what it means to be a woman, then and now.
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The face of many a mumblecore indie is today one of the freshest voices behind the Holly camera, bringing in both sensibility and sensitivity to her films. As a director, both Greta Gerwig’s films — Lady Bird and Little Women — have earned Academy Award nominations for Best Film, with the 36-year-old being nominated for a Best Director Oscar for Lady Bird. Whether it’s her empathetic tempering of a coming-of-age story in Lady Bird or the individual nuances she lent to a classic like Little Women, Gerwig has established herself as someone with a fully formed filmmaking talent that mines a lot from her own life experiences. She displays a keen understanding of the dynamics of family, the pangs of growing up and most importantly, what it means to be a woman, then and now.
Sourced by The Telegraph

2. Lulu Wang

One of the most poignant and powerful films of 2019 belonged to Lulu Wang, a Chinese-American filmmaker who floored cinegoers and critics alike with the emotional wallop she delivered with The Farewell. A commercial success, The Farewell earned its lead actress Awkwafina a Golden Globe statuette, with the 37-year-old Wang not only being hailed for a film that was in equal parts happy and heartbreaking, but also for her refusal to whitewash the story of a Chinese family. Before The Farewell, Wang had established her credentials by directing shorts and the endearing 2014 film Posthumous.
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One of the most poignant and powerful films of 2019 belonged to Lulu Wang, a Chinese-American filmmaker who floored cinegoers and critics alike with the emotional wallop she delivered with The Farewell. A commercial success, The Farewell earned its lead actress Awkwafina a Golden Globe statuette, with the 37-year-old Wang not only being hailed for a film that was in equal parts happy and heartbreaking, but also for her refusal to whitewash the story of a Chinese family. Before The Farewell, Wang had established her credentials by directing shorts and the endearing 2014 film Posthumous.
Sourced by The Telegraph

3. Marielle Heller

Her directorial debut, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, was a boldly unconventional coming-of-age story that handled a theme like sexuality without judgment. In 2018, she brought both wit and warmth to the biopic Can You Ever Forgive Me? Last year, Marielle Heller was the force behind Tom Hanks’s compelling performance as Fred Rogers in the widely acclaimed A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Heller, who started off as an actor, exhibits a knack for telling heartwarming stories that are rooted in reality and are yet uplifting. She excels in creating moments that are quietly profound with the ability to turn what could potentially end up as being saccharine sweet into something spiritual. This is an original voice to watch out for.
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Her directorial debut, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, was a boldly unconventional coming-of-age story that handled a theme like sexuality without judgment. In 2018, she brought both wit and warmth to the biopic Can You Ever Forgive Me? Last year, Marielle Heller was the force behind Tom Hanks’s compelling performance as Fred Rogers in the widely acclaimed A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Heller, who started off as an actor, exhibits a knack for telling heartwarming stories that are rooted in reality and are yet uplifting. She excels in creating moments that are quietly profound with the ability to turn what could potentially end up as being saccharine sweet into something spiritual. This is an original voice to watch out for.
Sourced by The Telegraph

4. Lynne Ramsay

Despite a not-so-prolific career, Lynne Ramsay has been one of the most exciting filmmakers of contemporary cinema. From her 1999 debut film Ratcatcher to We Need to Talk About Kevin that was widely feted, the 50-year-old Ramsay — widely described as “eccentric” and “difficult” but unanimously lauded as a “genius” — specialises in telling stories about messy people and their messy lives, her narratives being themed around guilt, grief and death. A hands-on presence in every department of her films, Ramsay is known to get deep into the process of filmmaking, churning out movies that are emotional and empathetic, and almost always cathartic.
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Despite a not-so-prolific career, Lynne Ramsay has been one of the most exciting filmmakers of contemporary cinema. From her 1999 debut film Ratcatcher to We Need to Talk About Kevin that was widely feted, the 50-year-old Ramsay — widely described as “eccentric” and “difficult” but unanimously lauded as a “genius” — specialises in telling stories about messy people and their messy lives, her narratives being themed around guilt, grief and death. A hands-on presence in every department of her films, Ramsay is known to get deep into the process of filmmaking, churning out movies that are emotional and empathetic, and almost always cathartic.
Sourced by The Telegraph

5. Ava DuVernay

A visionary director and activist, Ava DuVernay’s voice has always been important in American filmmaking. Her films largely touch upon themes of racial stereotyping, injustice and lost innocence, but she’s shown that she has the ability to shoulder big-budget fare as she did with the 2018 fantasy film A Wrinkle In Time. Selma, that chronicled Martin Luther King’s fight for equal voting rights, remains her most memorable work till date. She has quite a few achievements to her name, among them being the first black woman to win a best director prize at Sundance, to be nominated for a best director Golden Globe and to have her film nominated for an Oscar.
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A visionary director and activist, Ava DuVernay’s voice has always been important in American filmmaking. Her films largely touch upon themes of racial stereotyping, injustice and lost innocence, but she’s shown that she has the ability to shoulder big-budget fare as she did with the 2018 fantasy film A Wrinkle In Time. Selma, that chronicled Martin Luther King’s fight for equal voting rights, remains her most memorable work till date. She has quite a few achievements to her name, among them being the first black woman to win a best director prize at Sundance, to be nominated for a best director Golden Globe and to have her film nominated for an Oscar.
Sourced by The Telegraph
The veterans: Kathryn Bigelow, Sofia Coppola, Jane Campion, Mira Nair
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The veterans: Kathryn Bigelow, Sofia Coppola, Jane Campion, Mira Nair
The Telegraph

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