• From left: Offside, Joan of Arc, Woman at War, Volver (SBS Movies)
From the stories of Joan of Arc and Mulan to everyday struggles across the world, this collection showcases a variety of powerful female protagonists in beloved and acclaimed films now streaming at SBS On Demand.
By
SBS Movies

5 Mar 2020 - 10:28 AM  UPDATED 5 Mar 2020 - 10:28 AM

Mustang

M
Turkey, France, 2015
Genre: Drama
Language: Turkish
Director: Deniz Gamze Erguven
Starring: Güneş Nezihe Şensoy, Doğa Zeynep Doğuşlu, Elit İşcan, Tuğba Sunguroğlu, İlayda Akdoğan
What's it about?
Young orphaned Turkish girl Lale (Sensoy) and her four sisters are walking home from school, playing innocently with some boys. However, the ‘immorality’ of their play sets off a scandal. The family home is progressively transformed into a prison; instead of attending school, the girls are forced to learn homemaking skills, and talks of arranged marriages begin. Discontented, the five sisters who share a common passion for freedom find ways of getting around the constraints imposed on them. Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2016 Academy Awards.

Deniz Gamze Erguven interview

Woman at War

M
France, Iceland, Ukraine, 2018
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Action
Language: Icelandic, English
Director: Benedikt Erlingsson
Starring: Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir, Jóhann Sigurðarson, Jörundur Ragnarsson
What's it about?
Halla (Geirharðsdóttir) declares a one-woman-war on the local aluminium industry. She is prepared to risk everything to protect the pristine Icelandic Highlands she loves, until an orphan unexpectedly enters her life. From Of Horses and Men writer/director Benedikt Erlingsson, and winner of the SACD Screenwriting Prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

'Woman at War': Environmental Injustice Drives One Woman To Revenge

Offside

PG
Iran, 2006
Genre: Comedy
Language: Persian
Director: Jafar Panahi
Starring: Sima Mobarak-Shahi, Ayda Sadeqi, Shayesteh Irani
What's it about?
Banned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi (This is Not a Film, Tehran Taxi) won the Silver Bear for his 2006 movie, which follows a group of young Tehran women determined to attend a match to be played at the Azadi stadium between Bahrain and Iran, the victor of which will qualify for the World Cup. Since women are banned from watching, they attempt to buy tickets and enter disguised as men. The movie was filmed during the actual Iran versus Bahrain match in Tehran in 2005, but was banned from being shown in Iran.

I Am Love

MA15+
Italy, 2009
Genre: Drama
Language: Italian, Russian
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Pippo Delbono, Flavio Parenti, Edoardo Gabbriellini, Alba Rohrwacher
What's it about?
Over two decades ago, Emma (Swinton) left Russia to follow Tancredi Recchi, the man who had proposed to her. Now a member of a wealthy Milanese family, she is the respected mother of three. Although not unhappy, Emma feels confusedly unfulfilled. As cracks in the family façade appear, she is reawakened to the forces of passion and unconditional love. From Liuca Guadagnino, director of A Bigger Splash and Call Me By Your Name.

I Am Love: Review
Why You Should Watch: I Am Love
Dinner and a Movie: I Am Love

La Vie en Rose

M
France, 2007
Genre: Music, Drama, Biography
Language: French
Director: Olivier Dahan
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Gérard Depardieu, Emmanuelle Seigner, Sylvie Testud
What's it about?
A biopic about the legendary international singing icon Edith Piaf (Cotillard, in an Oscar-winning performance), whose voice and talent captivated the world. The remarkable artist was born into poverty but survived using the only gift she had – her voice. Piaf's tragic life was a constant battle to sing and survive, to live and love, with no regrets.

La Vie En Rose review: You will have no regrets seeing this.

Slut in a Good Way

MA15+
Canada, 2018
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Language: French
Director: Sophie Lorain
Starring: Marguerite Bouchard, Rose Adam, Romane Denis, Alex Godbout
What's it about?
When 17-year-old Charlotte's (Bouchard) newfound sexual empowerment gives her the 'perfect score' in a game created by her male co-workers, she bands her female colleagues together to go on a sex strike.

Camille Claudel, 1915

M
France, 2013
Genre: Drama
Language: French
Director: Bruno Dumont
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Jean-Luc Vincent, Robert Leroy, Armelle Leroy-Rolland
What's it about?
Winter, 1915. Confined by her family to an asylum in the South of France - where she will never sculpt again - the chronicle of Camille Claudel's (Binoche) reclusive life, as she waits for a visit from her brother, Paul Claudel. Directed by Bruno Dumont (L'il Quinquin, Slack Bay).

Camille Claudel, 1915: Juliette Binoche interview

Juliette Binoche in 'Camille Claudel, 1915'

Brick Lane

PG
UK, India, 2007
Genre: Drama
Language: English, Bengali
Director: Sarah Gavron
Starring: Tannishtha Chatterjee, Christopher Simpson, Satish Kaushik, Zafreen
What's it about?
Nazneem (Chatterjee), a young Bangladeshi woman, arrives in 1980s London for an arranged marriage with middle-aged Chanu (Kaushik). As their marriage proves loveless, she fears her soul is quietly dying. That is until the day hot-headed Karim (Simpson) comes knocking at her door. Winner of the CICAE Award at the 2007 San Sebastián International Film Festival.

Brick Lane review - For those who loved the book, be prepared.

 

Female Agents

MA15+
France, 2008
Genre: Drama, History, War
Language: French
Director: Jean-Paul Salomé
Starring: Sophie Marceau, Julie Depardieu, Moritz Bleibtreu, Deborah Francis, Marie Gillain
What's it about?
A five-woman commando unit parachutes into occupied France in May 1944 on a daring and dangerous mission to protect the secret of the D-Day Landings and eliminate Colonel Heindrich (Bleibtreu), the head of the German counter-intelligence. Louise (Marceau) is a trained sniper, Jeanne (Depardieu) is a tough sex worker, Gaelle (Francis) is a young and brilliant explosives expert, Suzy (Gillain) is a former showgirl and Heindrich's one-time lover and Maria (Maya Sansa) is an Italian contessa undercover with the French Resistance.

Female Agents review: Spy drama goes beyond the Mata Hari myth

Joan of Arc

MA15+
France, 1999
Genre: 
Action, Drama, History
Director: Luc Besson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Dustin Hoffman, Faye Dunaway
What's it about?
Luc Besson's (Leon: The Professional, The Fifth Element) epic medieval war saga about the iconic French heroin and religious martyr of the 15th century. In 1429, a teenage girl (Jovovich) from a remote French village stood before her King with a message she claimed came from God; that she would defeat the world's greatest army and liberate her country from its political and religious turmoil.

A Date for Mad Mary

MA15+
Ireland, 2016
Genre: Romance, Drama, Comedy
Language: English, Irish
Director: Darren Thornton
Starring: Seána Kerslake, Tara Lee, Charleigh Bailey, Denise McCormack
What's it about?
"Mad" Mary McArdle (Kerslake) returns to Drogheda after a short spell in prison for something she'd rather forget. Back home, everything and everyone has changed. Her best friend, Charlene (Bailey), is about to get married and Mary is maid of honor. When Charlene refuses Mary a 'plus one' on the grounds that she probably couldn't find a date, Mary becomes determined to prove her wrong.

'A Date for Mad Mary': Instantly Lovable Coming-of-Age Charmer

Mulan: Rise of a Warrior

M
China, 2009
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Action
Language: Chinese
Director: Jingle Ma
Starring: Zhao Wei, Chen Kun, Yu Rong-Guang
What's it about?
When barbarian hordes threaten her homeland, the brave and cunning Mulan (Zhao Wei) disguises herself as a male soldier to swell the ranks in her aging father's (Rong-guang Yu) stead. The warrior's remarkable courage drives her through powerful battle scenes and brutal wartime startegy. Mulan loses dear friends to the enemy's blade as she rises to become one of her country's most valuable leaders - but can she win the war before her secret is exposed?

Volver

M
Spain, 2006
Genre: Drama
Language: Spanish
Director: Pedro Almodovar
Starring: Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Blanca Portillo, Antonio de la Torre
What's it about?
A celebration of the resilience of three generations of Spanish women, from director Pedro Almodovar. Following her death, a grandmother returns to address issues left unresolved at the time of her passing. Nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress (Penelope Cruz).

 

Belle

M
UK, 2014
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Director: Amma Asante
Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Emily Watson
What's it about?
This period drama is inspired by the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Mbatha-Raw), who was the illegitimate daughter of John Lindsay, a Captain in the Royal Navy, and a Caribbean woman named Maria Belle who gave birth to their child in 1762. Belle's racial background renders her an outsider in her high society circle, and her uncle's role in a slavery case places her in the spotlight.

Film Review: 'Belle' Tells Continually Fascinating and Unusually Layered Story
Belle: Amma Asante interview

My Brilliant Career

G
Australia, 1979
Genre: Drama, Romance
Language: English
Director: Gillian Armstrong
Starring: Judy Davis, Wendy Hughes, Sam Neill
What's it about?
Sybylla (Davis), a headstrong girl growing up in early 20th century Australia, has the opportunity of marriage to a wealthy young man whom she loves, but rejects it in order to maintain her independence, preferring to take a job as governess/housekeeper to the family of an illiterate neighbor to whom her father owes money. The debut feature from director Gilliam Armstrong (StarstruckThe Last Days of Chez Nous, High Tide, Little Women).

Director of My Brilliant Career, Little Woman, Oscar and Lucinda and Charlotte Grey talks to Marc Fennell.

War Witch

MA15+
Canada, 2011
Genre: Drama
Language: French
Director: Kim Nguyen
Starring: Rachel Mwanza, Alain Lino Mic Eli Bastien, Serge Kanyinda
What's it about?
A teenage girl enslaved to a life of guerrilla warfare in the African jungle finds hope for survival in protective, ghost-like visions and with a fellow soldier named Magician. Oscar-nominated in 2013 for Best Foreign Language Film.

Rebelle / War Witch: Kim Nguyen interview
War Witch review: A child's eye view of atrocity

Two Days, One Night

M
Belgium, 2014
Genre: Drama
Language: French
Director: Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Olivier Gourmet, Catherine Salée, Fabrizio Rongione
What's it about?
In an Academy-award nominated performance, Marion Cotillard stars as Sandra, a young woman assisted by her husband, who has only one weekend to convince her colleagues to give up their much-needed bonuses so that she can keep her job. From the acclaimed, multiple-Cannes-prize-winning directing team the Dardenne brothers (The Child, The Kid With a Bike).

Two Days, One Night Review

Wadjda

M
Saudi Arabia, 2012
Genre: Drama
Language: Arabic
Director: Haifaa Al-Mansour
Starring: Waad Mohammed, Abdullrahman Al Gohani, Reem Abdullah
What's it about?
A rebellious Saudi girl (Mohammed) enters a Koran recitation competition at her school and hopes to win enough money to buy her own bicycle. The story is tailored to highlight the pressures and difficulties faced by women in Saudi Arabia, with a rare glimpse into the lives of women behind closed doors and the warm relationships between mothers and daughters. Nominated for a 2013 BAFTA award for Best Film Not In The English Language.

Wadjda: Haifaa Al-Mansour interview
Wadjda review: A film about female triumph

The Divine Order

M
Switzerland, 2017
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Language: English, German, Italian, Swedish
Director: Petra Biondina Volpe
Starring: Marie Leuenberger, Maximilian Simonischek, Marta Zoffoli, Bettina Stucky
What's it about?
Nora (Leuenberger) is a young housewife and mother, living in a quaint little village with her husband and their two sons. The Swiss countryside is untouched by the major social upheavals the movement of 1968 has brought about. Nora’s life is not affected either; she is a quiet person who is liked by everybody – until she starts to publicly fight for women’s suffrage, which the men are due to vote on in a ballot on February 7, 1971.

'The Divine Order': Empowering and Amusing in Equal Measure

Spoor

M
Poland, 2017
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Language: English, Polish
Director: Agnieszka Holland
Starring: Agnieszka Mandat-Grabka, Wiktor Zborowski, Jakub Gierszał
What's it about?
A story about Janina Duszejko (Mandat-Grabka), an elderly woman, who lives alone in the Klodzko Valley where a series of mysterious crimes are committed. Duszejko is convinced that she knows who (or what) is the murderer, but nobody believes her. From Agnieszka Holland, director of Europa Europa and Olivier, Olivier.

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