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12 Women-Directed Films to Watch For Women’s History Month

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Nate von Zumwalt

A recent proliferation of “official” and “unofficial” holidays has provoked some gratuitous celebrations—shout out to National Doughnut Day. On the other hand, some less facetious days of recognition warrant a more substantial nod. Cue Women’s History Month, which dates back to 1981 and corresponds with International Women’s Day on March 8. It also corresponds with what we try to do here at Sundance Institute with our Women’s Initiative.

The Sundance Institute Women’s Initiative is an endeavor with Women in Film/LA and a group of allied organizations in the field of women and media to foster gender equality in American independent cinema. It’s our way of supporting women filmmakers to develop their stories and find audiences for their work. It’s our belief that the dearth is not in the pool of talent—it’s in the support, and perhaps fueled by an indoctrinated notion of a “filmmaker.”

To learn more about the research published in our two-part study, authored by Dr. Stacy Smith and her team at USC’s Annenberg School for Communications, check out this analysis of gender parity among creators in the realm of independent film. Ultimately, all you need to do is take a look at these 12 female filmmakers and their films, including two #ArtistServices titles by and about women, to know that great film does not know gender.


Obvious Child, directed by Gillian Robespierre

Appropriate Behavior, directed by Desiree Akhavan

Land Ho!, directed by Martha Stephens (co-directed by Aaron Katz)

The Sleepwalker, directed by Mona Fastvold

52 Tuesdays, directed by Sophie Hyde

Song One, directed by Kate Barker Froyland

The Foxy Merkins, directed by Madeleine Olnek

Laggies, directed by Lynn Shelton

Hellion, direxted by Kat Candler

Rich Hill, directed by Tracy Droz Tragos (co-directed by Andrew Droz Palermo)

#ArtistServices Titles

Sweet Dreams, directed by Lisa Fruchtman and Rob Fruchtman

“Ingoma Nshya, Rwanda’s first and only women’s drumming troupe, brings together women from both sides of the 1994 genocide in which close to a million people were killed. When the troupe decides to open Rwanda’s very first ice cream shop, this spirited film reveals a surprising and joyful tale of courage and hope in the face of the unthinkable.”

American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, directed by Grace Lee

American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs plunges us into Boggs’ lifetime of vital thinking and action, traversing the major U.S. social movements of the last century: from labor to civil rights, to Black Power, feminism, the Asian American and environmental justice movements and beyond.”

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Sundance Institute Piloting Direct Individual Support for Mediamakers Through the Sundance Institute | Humanities Sustainability Fellowship

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic upended life in general, and halted production and distribution for many creatives, the nonfiction field was plagued by issues of sustainability. For several years, sustainability has been an urgent and vigorous topic of study, debate, and organizing, as more and more filmmakers find it difficult, if not impossible, to make a living solely on the basis of their creative work. 

In Memoriam: Diane Weyermann (1955–2021)

A singular force within the documentary film world with a global reach, Diane Weyermann passed away at age 66 after battling cancer. Over the course of her 30-year career as a funder and an executive, her work elevated the documentary form and expanded its cultural impact.

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