Mark International Women's Day by watching movies directed by women.
By
8 Mar 2016 - 6:34 PM  UPDATED 8 Jul 2016 - 1:44 PM

N.B. This is an edited selection of some of the movies directed by women, that are currently available for free streaming at SBS On Demand. Click the SBS On Demand logo on the image to start viewing a film. 

A Common Thread

M
France, 2004
Genre: Drama, Romance
Language: French
Director: Éléonore Faucher
Starring: Anne Canovas, Jackie Berroyer, Thomas Laroppe, Marie Felix, Lola Naymark, Ariane Ascaride
What's it about?
This understated film focuses on the friendship between a pregnant teen and a grieving mother, who bond over their shared love of intricate embroidery.  Claire is concealing her unwanted pregnancy from co-workers and her parents, but is taken in by Madame Melikian, a master embroiderer who creates delicate embellishments for the top Paris fashion houses.

An Education

M
United Kingdom, 2000
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Director: Lone Scherfig
Starring: Peter Sarsgaard, Emma Thompson, Alfred Molina, Carey Mulligan, Dominic Cooper
What's it about?
Carey Mulligan was Oscar-nominated in her breakthrough turn as Jenny, a studious 17 year-old who falls hard for a worldly thirtysomething (Peter Sarsgaard). Both she and her parents are won over by the sophisticated David, but Jenny learns the hard way that looks can be deceiving. 

Why You Should Watch: An Education
An Education Review

Appropriate Behaviour

MA 15+
United States, 2014
Genre: Comedy, drama
Language: English
Director: Desiree Akhavan
Starring: Desiree Akhavan, Rebecca Henderson, Scott Adsit, Halley Feiffer, Anh Duong, 
What's it about?
Desiree Akhavan wrote, directs and stars in this story of a Brooklynite trying in vain to live a double life as a good Persian daughter and a hip bisexual.  Shirin's refusal to come out to her parents is the last straw for her girlfriend, and the act of being dumped makes her assess her priorities. 

link title="Desiree Akhavan on ‘Appropriate Behaviour’ in sex scenes (interview)" url="node/49897"]

Appropriate Behaviour review

Augustine

MA 15+
France, 2012
Genre: Drama
Language: French
Director: Alice Winocour
Starring: Olivier Rabourdin, Chiara Mastroianni, Vincent Lindon, Soko
What's it about?
In Belle Epoque, a 19-year-old 'hysteria' patient (Soko) fascinates her attending physician, the 'father of modern neurology', Jean-Martin Charcot (Vincent Lindon). Augustine causes a stir in the medical community, with sexually charged seizures that are seemingly controlled by hypnosis. Through Augustine and Charcot's complicated relationship, director Alice Winocour explores the connection between sex and power, and the idea of the woman's erotic display as performance.

Circumstance

MA 15+
Iran, 2011
Genre: Drama
Language: Persian-Farsi
Director: Maryam Keshavarz
Starring: Reza Sixo Safai, Sarah Kazemy, Nikohl Boosheri
What's it about?
American-Iranian Maryam Keshavarz confronts stereotypes about buttoned-up Iranians in her story of two teenage art students, who fall for each other as they party hard in the underground clubs of Tehran. 

Circumstance Review

Dating the Enemy

M
Australia, 1996
Genre: Comedy
Language: English
Director: Megan Simpson Huberman
Starring: Guy Pearce, Claudia Karvan, Matt Day, Lisa Hensley, John Howard, T.J. Ramini
What's it about?
Claudia Karvan and Guy Pearce headline this local take on the body swap genre. They play two halves of a doomed relationship, who get a unique opportunity to walk in someone else's shoes. Karvan and Pearce have a lot of fun grabbing and gawking at their 'new' appendages, in Megan Simpson Huberman's battle-of-the-sexes Aussie comedy.

Declaration of War

France, 2011
Genre: Drama
Language: [language]
Director: Valerie Donzelli
Starring: Valerie Donzelli, Jérémie Elkaïm, Michèle Moretti, Frédéric Pierrot
What's it about?
Valerie Donzelli directs herself and her partner, in a story inspired by their own experience. They play Juliette and Romeo, whose whirlwind relationship leads quickly to parenthood. Their instant family suffers a tragic blow when their baby is diagnosed with a brain tumour, and they discover the best and worst of themselves as they grapple to cope with the devastating news.

Declaration of War: Valérie Donzelli interview
Declaration of War Review

 

Desert Runners

PG
United States, 2013
Genre: Documentary
Language: English
Director: Jennifer Steinman
Starring:
What's it about?
American documentary maker Jennifer Steinman profiles four amateur athletes attempting to tackle the most difficult ultra marathon races on earth. She follows an Irish businessman, an aspiring Australian actress, a retired American baseball player and a widowed British bodyguard, as they push themselves to the limit in world's most picturesque and brutal deserts in Chile, China, Egypt and Antarctica.

DIG!

MA15+
United States, 2004
Genre: Documentary, Music
Language: English
Director: Ondi Timoner
Starring: Anton Newcombe and Courtney Taylor-Taylor
What's it about?
Ondi Timoner spent seven years trailing two alternative rock bands—Portland's the Dandy Warhols and San Francisco's Brian Jonestown Massacreto examine the impact of commercial success upon an up-and-coming band's creative integrity. Using a digital video and a spy camera in her hat, Timoner ended up with an amazing real-life version of This Is Spinal Tap, as The Dandy Warhols start selling out stadiums, and The Brian Jonestown Massacre starts to implode under the direction of wannabe rock god, Anton Newcombe.

Don't Tell

M
Italy, 2005
Genre: Drama
Language: Italian
Director: Cristina Comencini
Starring: Stefania Rocca, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Angela Finocchiaro, Giuseppe Battiston
What's it about?
This Italian contender for the 2005 foreign language Oscar recalls Hitchock's Marnie in its treatment of repressed childhood trauma. Sabina (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) is considering starting a family when she is plagued by nightmares, and sets off to America to speak to her brother, and get to the bottom of secrets that lurk in their shared past. 

Eros Therapy

MA 15+
France, 2004
Genre: Comedy
Language: French
Director: Danièle Dubroux
Starring: Catherine Frot, Isabelle Carré, Francois Berleand, Melvil Poupaud
What's it about?
A cuckolded husband goes to increasingly desperate lengths to destroy his wife's new relationship with her girlfriend, in this farcical social satire. There's much plotting and conniving from all parties, until a bondage den offers a forum for everyone to work through their issues. 

 

Fish Tank

MA15+
United Kingdom, 2009
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Director: Andrea Arnold
Starring: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender
What's it about?
Mia (Katie jarvis) is a 15 year-old, perpetually disappointed by everyone and everything on her bleak council estate. The arrival of her mum's new boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbender) brings a dramatic change to the fractured family dynamic. 

Why You Should Watch: Fish Tank
Fish Tank Review

Going Away

M
France, 2014
Genre: Drama
Language: French
Director: Nicole Garcia
Starring: Pierre Rochefort, Louise Bourgoin, Dominique Sanda, Deborah Francois
What's it about?
Nicole Garcia directs her own son, Pierre Rochefort, in the story of a substitute teacher with a shady past (partly inspired by Half Nelson). Baptiste is forced to care for an abandoned student, over the course of a transformative weekend in the south of France. 

Going Away Review
Watch interview with Pierre Rochefort and Louise Bourgoin

Happy Happy

MA 15+
Norway, 2011
Genre: Comedy
Language: Norwegian
Director: Anne Sewitsky
Starring: Maibritt Saerens, Joachim Rafaelsen, Henrik Rafaelsen, Agnes Kittelsen
What's it about?
A sexually frustrated housewife maintains an eternally upbeat disposition, so as not to succumb to her desperate loneliness. The arrival of sophisticated new neighbours throws her into a tailspin, and into an illicit affair with the husband. 

Happy Happy Review

Head On

MA 15+
Australia, 1998
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Director: Ana Kokkinos
Starring: Alex Dimitriades, Tony Nikolakopoulos, Alex Papps, Paul Capsis 
What's it about?
Ana Kokkinos' firecracker debut feature tells the story of double outsider Ari (Alex Dimitriades), a Melbourne teenager who's desperately uncomfortable with both his Greekness and his gayness. Kokkinos offers an insight into Ari's self-loathing, over the course of an intense night out in inner city Melbourne. 

Head On review: Shocking, confronting and dazzling

 

In a Better World

MA15+
Denmark, 2010
Genre: Drama
Language: Danish
Director: Susanne Bier
Starring: Mikael Persbrandt, Trine Dyrholm, Ulrich Thomsen
What's it about?
The 2011 foreign language Oscar went to Susanne Bier for her probing examination of how individuals react to injustice. The stories of two Danish families intersect, as each contends with evils big and small (from unscrupulous African warlords, to schoolyard bullies) and contemplate the value of retaliating.

 link title="In a Better World Review" url="node/5410"]

The Last Days of Chez Nous

PG
Australia, 1992
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Language: English
Director: Gillian Armstrong
Starring: Kerry Fox, Miranda Otto, Bill Hunter, Bruno Ganz, Lisa Harrow, Kiri Paramore
What's it about?
Gillian Armstrong directs this underrated Australian gem (penned by Helen Garner) about a marriage in its final death throes. Lisa Harrow won an AFI award for her outstanding turn as a headstrong woman left wondering how she's supposed to feel about her husband's fling with her own sister.

The Last Days of Chez Nous review

Looking for Cheyenne

M
France, 2005
Genre: Drama, Romance
Language: French
Director: Valérie Minetto
Starring: Aurélia Petit, Mila Dekker, Malik Zidi
What's it about?
A recently separated couple struggles to make the final break, in Valérie Minetto's accomplished drama. Sonia (Aurélia Petit) and Cheyenne (Mila Dekker) are still deeply in love, but they can't reach a compromise over the issues that broke them up in the first place, such as whether to live off the land or in the city. 

Nathalie

MA15+
France, 2003
Genre: Drama
Language: French
Director: Anne Fontaine
Starring: Fanny Ardant, Emmanuelle Béart, Gérard Depardieu, Judith Magre
What's it about?
Catherine (Fanny Ardant) takes a path less travelled when she discovers that her husband, Bernard (Gerard Depardieu) has been unfaithful. She hires a prostitute, Nathalie (Emmanuelle Beart) to seduce him, and report back to her about their trysts. Catherine's intention was to glean insight into why Bernard has strayed, but over the course of her meetings with Nathalie, she becomes fascinated by the details of their burgeoning relationship. 

Orlando

M
France, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, United Kingdom, 1992
Genre: Romance, Drama, Fantasy
Language: English
Director: Sally Potter
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Quentin Crisp, Jimmy Somerville, John Wood, Simon Russell Beale, Toby Stephens, Billy Zane
What's it about?
An omnisexual protagonist flits through four centuries with a quiet bemusement, in Sally Potter's sumptuous adaptation of Virginia Woolf's epic exploration of sexual politics. It's the role Tilda Swinton was born to play. 

Orlando review

 

Patrik, Age 1.5

M
Sweden, 2008
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Language: Swedish
Director: Ella Lemhagen
Starring: Gustaf Skarsgard, Torkel Petersson, Thomas Ljungman 
What's it about?
A wayward decimal point has a disastrous impact upon the plans of expectant parents, Goran and Sven, a gay couple anticipating the arrival of an adopted baby boy, Patrick 1.5. Instead, they are saddled with a 15-year-old homophobe with a criminal past.

Pure

MA15+
Sweden, 2009
Genre: Drama
Language: Swedish
Director: Lisa Langseth
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Samuel Fröler
What's it about?
Lisa Langseth directs Alicia Vikander in this story of a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who finds a pathway to a better life through classical music. She bluffs her way into a job at the Gothenburg Symphony, and draws the attention of its demanding chief conductor. 

The Queen of Versailles

M

Genre: Documentary
Language: English
Director: Lauren Greenfield
Starring: Jaqueline Siegel, David Siegel, Virginia Nebab
What's it about?
An unlikeable billionaire's vanity building project is affected by the collapse of the housing market, in this comically tragic riches-to-rags documentary. Lauren Greenfield captures the changing dynamic within the Siegel household, as their ostentatious lifestyle comes a cropper, and their unfinished palace becomes a monument of their superficial values.

The Queen of Versailles Review

   

The Woodsman

MA15+
United States, 2004
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Director: Nicole Kassell
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Eve, Benjamin Bratt, Mos Def, David Alan Grier, Kevin Bacon
What's it about?
A freed sex offender's attempt to return to society is observed carefully and without judgement, in Nicole Kassell's  stunning debut feature, The Woodsman. Kevin Bacon is a picture of subtlety as Walter, a convicted paedophile who returns to his hometown after more than a decade in prison and attempts to restart his life, whilst navigating the judgement and condemnation of his community, and the danger of his own impulses. 

Why You Should Watch: The Woodsman

Tomboy

G
France, 2011
Genre: Drama
Language: French
Director: Celine Sciamma
Starring: Zoé Héran, Jeanne Disson, Sophie Cattani, Mathieu Demy
What's it about?
10 year-old Laure moves to a new suburb and takes the opportunity to try a new identity on for size. A new friend mistakes her for a boy, and the assumption goes uncorrected. As "Mikaël", Laure discovers a confidence that eludes her as a girl, and she spends a memorable summer living in her new skin. 

Tomboy Review

Wuthering Heights

MA15+
United Kingdom, 2000
Genre: Drama, Romance
Language: [language]
Director: Andrea Arnold
Starring:  Solomon Glave, Shannon Beer, Oliver Milburn, Steve Evets, 
What's it about?
Andrea Arnold strips away the conventions of the bonnet drama with this elemental story of anger, loss and love. There's a harrowing bleakness in the story of a poor man's intense and doomed relationship with his foster sister, Cathy. 

 

 

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