Femficātiō is counting down the Top 101 Feminist films all women (and men) must see. In our view, these films best reflect the landscape of women’s identity, experience and place in the world today.
We will be giving you 10 a day every day until we reach number one!
Here we go…!
101. Fire Eyes, 1994
Documentary, Written and Directed by Soraya Mire
“One of the most controversial of such traditional practices is ‘female circumcision,’ known by other names including ‘female genital mutilation’ as well as by specific technical terms like excision or infibulation (depending on the exact operation performed). “Fire Eyes” is an empassioned and artistic presentation of the topic, featuring African women and men talking about their experiences and values, as well as poetic touches like modern dances and masks.” Jack David Eller, Anthropological Review
A graphic and emotional film about FGM that really brings home the pain, shock, psychic and quite literal damage of this violently savage practice through the eyes of its victims.
100. Julia, 1977
Drama, Directed by Fred Zinnemann, Adapted from a chapter in Lillian Hellman‘s book “Pentimento” by Alvin Sargent
This eight time Oscar nominated and three time Oscar winning film is adapted from the poignant memoir of American writer Lillian Hellman entitled “Pentimento: A Book of Portraits” and details Hellman’s relationship with childhood best friend, Julia, a woman who resisted the Nazis in pre-war Germany. An inspirational and powerful film about women’s relationships and loyalties under the most horrifying of conditions.
99. Girl Interrupted, 1999
Drama, Directed By James Mangold and adapted to screen by James Mangold, Lisa Loomer, Anna Hamilton Phelan
Another adaptation from a memoir (Susanna Kaysen’s) of the same name, this film opened with mixed reviews. As an artistic venture, we do admit its a bit choppy and at times trivialises the very issues that make it feminist; mental illness, incest, sexual assault. Yet, this film so aptly portrays how young girls were housed in mental institutions as families and communities swept the real issues under the rug, that it deserves a mention. Angelina Jolie won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The ensemble cast also included Whoopi Goldberg.
98. Desert Hearts, 1985
Drama, Directed by Donna Dietch and based on the novel by Jane Rule and adapted to the screen by Natalie Cooper
“Cay: I don’t act this way to change the world. I act this way so that the world won’t goddamn change me!” Desert Hearts
This story resonates for all women who have dared to rebel against the norm and birthed a new being in the process. Desert Hearts, dubbed as a Lesbian Romance is that and much more. Cay and Vivienne are two brave protagonists that we as Feminists can all relate to.
97. A Walk on the Moon, 1999
Drama, Directed By Tony Goldwyn and Written by Pamela Gray
This lovely film is forgotten from most Top Feminist film lists, but Femficatio Feminists everywhere would triumph this cute, quaint drama staring Diane Lane (Pearl), Liev Schreiber (Marty), Viggo Mortensen (Walker Jerome). And its not because Pearl throws morals to the wind and begins an affair with Walker Jerome, the blouse salesman, under her husband Marty’s nose. It is because of that triumphant speech by Marty – as Pearl laments not being able to go to continue her studies , Marty asks “Who stopped you Pearl?” Whereas Marty lost a scholarship (he dreamed of being an astronaut), and dutifully marries Pearl when she becomes pregnant while the two are just in their teens – he remains loving and true to his familial responsibilities. This film demonstrates how patriarchal constructs of the nuclear family are truly atomic to all.
96. Akeelah and the Bee, 2006
Drama, Written and Directed by Doug Atchison
This is a terrific story – honest, believable and inspiring portrayals of young people. Part coming of age story, part sports drama – “Akeelah and the Bee” is a must for young feminists trying to navigate their greatness and remaining true to themselves.
95. Calendar Girls, 2003
Comedy Directed by Nigel Cole and Written by Tim Firth and Juliette Towhidi
Calendar Girls is the true story of middle and autumn-aged Yorkshire women debunking myths about body image while giving back to cancer research. This comedy shows the solidarity between women, their love for community and family, and their strength to battle societal norms of respectability for women of a certain class and age. A great film and uplifting story.
Very Difficult to Find!
A poignant film, touching and subtle, as the young journalist Nadia (portrayed by Josette Simone) returns to her native home of Mozambique (to cover a UN Conference) after living in political exile in South Africa. Twenty years earlier, her father was assassinated in Mozambique, which caused her to go into exile. It is a quiet yet remarkable journey, as this strong and grieving woman discovers it was not only her father she missed, but her home – and fights for both. An absolute shame not in general circulation, but many libraries internationally have a copy. Definitely worth digging for.
93. Faces of Women, 1985
Comedy, Written and Directed by Desire Ecare
Another hard to find!
A rambunctious folklorish comedy juxtaposing the lives of two women in the Ivory Coast during the seemingly never-ending street festival. A bored wife is accused by her tyrannical husband of having an affair with his younger brother. An illiterate woman who owns a fish-smoking business would like to leave it behind to open a restaurant – though she has no real assets for the bank’s criteria. This is a really funny, tender film, and if you can find it hold on to it with dear life!
This award winning documentary and directorial debut for Lisa Gay Hamilton is not only immensely powerful, but one for the archives of her-storical record.
Beah Richards ignites the screen, and touches us deeply with her painfully wise words and insights. Oscar-nominated for her role in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, this actress, poet and Civil Rights activist has made a lasting impression in American cinema and African American legacy.
There is an interesting story behind the film’s conception. During the filming of “Beloved”, a film that both Lisa and Beah had roles in, (young Sethe and Baby Suggs respectively), Lisa was moved to compile Beah’s legendary life on film. Beah’s beauty, passion, elegance, vibrancy and love of thespian life, are enriched through Lisa’s directorial skills and interviews. The archival material of her work as both actress and activist add mesmerising dimensions to this film. Beah lived a most authentic life, a life filled with purpose, joy, vision and meaning. She is greatly missed. Thank you Lisa for creating such a gem!