Compiled By Kamaria Muntu, Editor and
Malkia Charlee NoCry, Feminist Philosophy Editor
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…!
31.What’s Love Got to Do With It, 1993
Drama. Directed by Brian Gibson, Screenplay by Kate Lanier. Adapted from the book I, Tina by Tina Turner and Kurt Lodger.
Angela Bassett in a career defining role, portrays Tina Turner the international rock and soul icon who lived for years under the abuse and torment of husband Ike Turner (portrayed by Laurence Fishbourne). The true story of a woman finding her inner strength and courage; What’s Love Got to Do With It is not only a historical biopic of a woman’s life, but the film gives voice and strength to all women suffering from relationship abuse and domination. Entertaining as well as powerful.
30. Bend it Like Beckham, 2002
Comedy Drama. Directed by Gurinder Chadha. Screenplay by Gurinder Chadha, Guljit Bindra, Paul Mayeda Berges
A sports drama that girls can relate to. 18 year old Indian “Jess” Bhamra wants to play football, but her family forbids it. Good Indian girls get married, they don’t run around playing sport. The only problem is that Jess is really good, and her friend “Jules” convinces her to try out for their local West London team. Jess not only makes the team, but she can also bend the ball like Beckham. A lighthearted drama, with a happy ending, this is a must see for young women trying to carve out an individual identity even in these so called modern times.
29. Set it Off, 1996
Action Crime Thriller. Directed by F. Gary Gray. Story by Takashi Bufford, Screenplay by Kate Lanier
A sadly underrated feminist film. Unlike other women-pushed-to-the-edge crime dramas (Thelma and Louise, …) the reality metre is at full blast here. Subsumed by their struggles in a socioeconomically deprived African American urban landscape, four women’s lives unravel in an atmosphere of violence, predatory opportunism, injustice, gender and class oppression. The film begins with the women’s sober contemplation of a factory closing in their area. Turning to their deep and indestructible bonds for support, we witness their lives spin out of control due to no lack of personal effort. From the violent murder of a black male sibling by police, to social service harassment and the exploitation of employers – these desperate women use the know-how of fired banker friend, Frankie, to take a series of small banks in a melodramatic attempt to change their condition. The four trust and depend solely upon each other until the very end. Suspenseful film and a moving tale of sisterhood that stands the test of time.
28. Roe vs Wade, 1989
Drama. Director Gregory Hoblit. Screenplay by Alison Cross.
Aside from the traumas and life that would ensue for the real life Jane Roe after the Roe vs Wade judgement; this film is still relevant to feminists globally. Like other films on this list, a woman’s right to have control over her body is still an issue decided by male dominated courts, and this Texan woman’s battle to obtain a legal abortion in the United States deserves not to be forgotten. Holly Hunter does a now iconic portrayal of the complex and wide-ranging emotions of Jane Roe, while this film bundles law, politics, class, southern culture and a woman’s right to choose.
27. These Hands, 1993
Documentary. Written and Directed by Flora M’mbugu-Schelling
Stunning direction and cinematography hallmark Flora M’mbugu-Schelling’s excursion into the lives of women refugees from Mozambique working in a quarry outside Dar es Salaam. There are no words, dialogue or plot. We watch these women work, infuse their spirits in soil and rock as they toil, stop to eat, then toil again from daylight to daybreak without words, but oh so much context. We spy their singing, dancing and are made aware of the strained political subtext; the global economy that profits from their sweat. The artistry of this film mesmerises and Schelling’s ability to tell a multi-layered story with just the bare essentials is nothing short of amazing.
26.Bandit Queen, 1994
Drama. Hindi with English Subtitles. Directed by Shekhar Kapur , Written by Ranjit Kapoor and Mala Sen
Based on the life of Phoolan Devi, the Indian woman Robin Hood turned politician before her assassination in 2001. Born from the lower caste of boatmen, Phoolan was married at the age of 5 to a twenty-something year old man from a higher caste. She was beaten and sexually abused, prompting her run back home. Still not safe, the higher caste men within the village fondle and humiliate her. Banished from the village for inciting the advances of these men, Phoolan is left on her own and begins her life of banditry – hence the moniker, “Bandit Queen”. Targeting the upper-caste people, Phoolan worked to support herself and her gang of bandits. This is a wonderfully directed film that shows an aspect of a woman of colour’s life you wouldn’t normally be privy to. A must see for every film list.
25. A Town Without Pity, 1961
Drama. Directed by Gottfried Reinhardt, Screenplay by George Hurdalek, Jan Lustig, Silvia Reinhardt, Dalton Trumbo
Postwar Germany, the village of Neustadt; a teenage girl is raped by drunken American soldiers. Interesting backdrop for how women’s personality and sexuality never cease to be central where the crime of rape is concerned, and how lacking in sympathy average citizens can be in terms of feminine vulnerability. When a teenage girl’s sexual history and character is unfairly brought into question, the results reach tragic dimensions in this vintage film.
24. Stepford Wives, 1975
Sci-Fi Thriller. Directed by Bryan Forbes. Screenplay by William Goldman. Based on the novel of the same name by Ira Levin.
If there are still women out there who have not seen this movie, its a travesty. Not the comical farce of a remake in 2004 (great cast, no script); but the dark satire that Ira Levin created in his 1972 novel, masterfully brought to film. What if you could have the perfect life, house…wife? The film creatively and brilliantly illustrates the powerful lengths some men will go to keep women in primitive and stereotypical domestic bondage …
As far as cyber-robotics, perhaps not. That’s a perhaps though.
23. Eve’s Bayou, 1997
Drama. Written and Directed by Kasi Lemmons.
Director Kasi Lemmon’s best film, and one of legendary movie critic Roger Ebert’s Top Films of 1997 – exquisitely artful and highly underrated. The cinematography, directing and writing is brilliant! Conceived and rendered uniquely and boldly by the African-American woman film-maker, Eve’s Bayou (named for an enslaved African woman) tackles an issue all too obscured in upper-class African American life – sexual abuse. The privileged class Batiste family (a prominent doctor and his wife) have three children – the 10 year old Eve, her little brother Poe and her preteen sister Cisely. The patriarch Louis (wickedly portrayed by Samuel L Jackson) has a wandering eye, and the precocious Eve catches him on more than one occasion being unfaithful to her mother. Cisely is gaining an unnatural closeness with her father which worries Eve. The characterisation of Eve played laudably by Jurnee Smollett is unique in its rendering of a strong yet vulnerable, magically powerful, frighteningly perceptive, and particularly special Black girl-child generally not given voice in mainstream media projects. Eve is sheroic and feminist in her fierce and uncompromising loyalty to the women in her life.
22. Ladybird, Ladybird, 1994
Drama. Directed by Ken Loach. Written by Rona Munro.
As a woman our reproduction is controlled to the point that even our very children are not ours. Actress Crissy Rock won the Silver Bear for Best Actress for her portrayal of Maggie, a woman with four children by four different fathers who has her children taken away from her and in the care of Social Services. Every time she has a child, social services finds a way she isn’t fit. The first time, she a victim to domestic abuse herself. This is a sad and gripping film, but essential in understanding the daily battles that poor women experience in attempting to raise their children every day.