Top 100 Female Directorsby minalex | created - 04 Sep 2011 | updated - 2 weeks ago | Public
The most important women directors from USA (38), France-Belgium (10), Greece (9), Germany-Austria-Netherlands (6), United Kingdom (6), Australia-New Zealand (5), Italy (3), Canada (2), Denmark (2), Iran (2), Israel (2), Bosnia, Brazil, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, India, Lebanon, Norway, Palestine, Peru, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia and Turkey.
Director | Dedictví aneb Kurvahosigutntag
Vera Chytilová was born on February 2, 1929, in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic). She studied philosophy and architecture in Brno for two years, then worked as a technical draftsman, a designer, a fashion model, a photo re-toucher, then worked as a clapper girl for Barrandov Film ...
Actress | The Witches
Mai Zetterling was born in Sweden in 1925, and lived briefly in Australia while still a child. She's known as a director and actor and trained on the Stockholm repertory stage, she began appearing in war-era films starting in her teens. Following her debut in Lasse Maja (1941), she made quite an ...
Writer | Pasqualino Settebellezze
Lina Wertmüller was born on August 14, 1928 in Rome, Lazio, Italy as Arcangela Felice Assunta Job Wertmüller von Elgg Espanol von Brauchich. She is a writer and director, known for Seven Beauties (1975), Travolti da un insolito destino nell'azzurro mare d'agosto (1974) and I basilischi (1963). She ...
Director | Rosenstrasse
Margarethe von Trotta was born in Berlin in 1942. In the 1960s she moved to Paris where she worked for film collectives, collaborating on scripts and co-directing short films. She also pursued an acclaimed acting career, starring in films by well known German directors such as Rainer Werner ...
Director | My Brilliant Career
Gillian Armstrong was born on December 18, 1950 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia as Gillian May Armstrong. She is a director and producer, known for My Brilliant Career (1979), Not Fourteen Again (1996) and Little Women (1994). She is married to John Pleffer. They have two children.
Director | Deutschland bleiche Mutter
Helma Sanders-Brahms was born on November 20, 1940 in Emden, Lower Saxony, Germany. She was a director and writer, known for Germany Pale Mother (1980), Die Berührte (1981) and Die industrielle Reservearmee (1971). She died on May 27, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.
Director | Topos
Studied Architecture at the National Technical University in Athens, Film Directing and Editing at the Institut des Hautes Edutes Cinematographiques (IDHEC) in Paris, and Film Theory at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, where she was taught by Christian Metz.
16. Martha Coolidge
Director | Valley Girl
Martha Patterson Coolidge was born on August 17, 1946 in New Haven Connecticut. She studied illustration at Rhode Island School of Design, but changed majors, becoming the first film major at the school. She attended and graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where she ...
18. Elaine May
Actress | Small Time Crooks
Elaine May was born on April 21, 1932 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA as Elaine Iva Berlin. She is an actress and writer, known for Small Time Crooks (2000), A New Leaf (1971) and Ishtar (1987). She was previously married to David L. Rubinfine, Sheldon Harnick and Marvin May.
22. Penny Marshall
Actress | Laverne & Shirley
Penny Marshall was born Carole Penny Marshall in the Bronx, New York, on October 15, 1943. The Libra is 5' 6 1/2", with brown hair and green eyes. She is the daughter of Marjorie (Ward), a tap dance teacher, and Anthony "Tony" Marshall, an industrial film director. She is the younger sister of ...
24. Barbra Streisand
Soundtrack | Funny Girl
Barbra Streisand is an American singer, actress, director and producer and one of the most successful personalities in show business. She is the only person ever to receive all of the following: Oscar, Tony, Emmy, Grammy, Golden Globe, Cable Ace, National Endowment for the Arts, and Peabody awards,...
25. Jodie Foster
Actress | The Silence of the Lambs
Alicia Christian Foster was born in Los Angeles on November 19, 1962. She is the daughter of Evelyn Ella "Brandy" (Almond) and Lucius Fisher Foster III, an Air Force lieutenant colonel and later real estate broker. Brandy had filed for divorce in 1959 after having three children with Lucius, but ...
26. Nancy Savoca
Director | True Love
Director 'Nancy Savoca' received critical acclaim for her first feature film, True Love (1989) which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1989 Sundance Film Festival and was hailed as one of the best films of the year by both Janet Maslin and Vincent Canby of the New York Times. Savoca was nominated for...
27. Sally Potter
Director | The Tango Lesson
Sally Potter made her first 8mm film aged fourteen. She has since written and directed seven feature films, as well as many short films (including THRILLER and PLAY) and a television series, and has directed opera (Carmen for the ENO in 2007) and other live work. Her background is in choreography, ...
Director | Wayne's World
Spheeris is often referred to as a 'rock 'n roll anthropologist'.
In 1974 she formed the first Los Angeles music video production company, ROCK 'N REEL. She concluded her music video work with the Grammy-nominated, "Bohemian Rhapsody" video for "Wayne's World". Spheeris' feature film debut was the ...
29. Jane Campion
Writer | The Piano
Jane Campion was born in Wellington, New Zealand, and now lives in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Having graduated with a BA in Anthropology from Victoria University of Wellington in 1975, and a BA, with a painting major, at Sydney College of the Arts in 1979, she began filmmaking in the early...
30. Moufida Tlatli
Editor | Samt el qusur
Was raised in Tunisia in a tradition-oriented family. It was in high school, thanks to her philosophy teacher, who ran a film club, that she developed a taste for the cinema. After graduating from the IDHEC film school in 1968, in the editing department, she went back to live in Tunisia in 1972. ...
33. Amy Heckerling
Writer | Clueless
Amy Heckerling studied Film and TV at New York University and got a Masters Degree in Film from The American Film Institute. Despite this education she couldn't get a break in Hollywood. However, in 1982, she made Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), and people started to take notice. In 1987, ...
36. Diane Keaton
Actress | Annie Hall
Diane was a California native who studied Drama at Santa Ana College before dropping out to study at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York. After appearing in summer stock for several months, she got her first major stage role in the Broadway rock musical "Hair". As understudy to the lead, she ...
38. Nora Ephron
Writer | Julie & Julia
Nora Ephron was educated at Wellesley College, Massachusetts. She was an acclaimed essayist (Crazy Salad 1975), novelist (Heartburn 1983), and had written screenplays for several popular films, all featuring strong female characters, such as anti-nuclear activist Karen Silkwood (Silkwood (1983), ...
43. Liv Ullmann
Actress | Ansikte mot ansikte
Liv Ullmann's father was a Norwegian engineer who used to work abroad, so as a child she lived in Tokyo, Canada, New York and Oslo. In the mid-'50s she made her stage debut and in 1957 made her film debut. She really became successful, however, when she began to work for Swedish director Ingmar ...
44. Mary Harron
Director | American Psycho
Mary Harron was born on January 12, 1953 in Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada. She is a director and writer, known for American Psycho (2000), I Shot Andy Warhol (1996) and The Moth Diaries (2011). She has been married to John Walsh since August 15, 1998. They have two children.
45. Jill Sprecher
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in philosophy and literature, she moved to NewYork to study film and has since made Manhattan her home. She has worked as a coordinator, production manager and line producer on both studio and independent features. She studied film ...
46. Mira Nair
Director | Salaam Bombay!
Accomplished Film Director/Writer/Producer Mira Nair was born in India and educated at Delhi University and at Harvard. She began her film career as an actor and then turned to directing award-winning documentaries, including So Far From India and India Cabaret. Her debut feature film, Salaam ...
47. Vicky Jenson
Director | Shrek
Vicky Jenson's career spans more than two decades in both animation and live action, and crosses the spectrum from TV to feature films to shorts including a commercial campaign for Old Navy of more than 40 spots with Anonymous Content and was at that time the only female feature film director they ...
49. Gurinder Chadha
Writer | Bend It Like Beckham
Gurinder Chadha was born in Kenya, and grew up in Southall, London, England. She began her career as a news reporter with BBC Radio, directed several award winning documentaries for the BBC, and began an alliance with the British Film Institute (BFI) and Channel Four. In 1990, Chadha set up her own...
52. Julie Taymor
Director | Frida
Julie Taymor is an Academy Award-nominated director, known for such films as Frida (2002) and Across the Universe (2007).
She was born on December 15, 1952, in Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. Her father, Melvin Lester Taymor, was a gynecologist. Her mother, Elizabeth Bernstein, was a ...
53. Sofia Coppola
Director | Lost in Translation
Sofia Coppola was born on May 14, 1971 in New York City, New York, USA as Sofia Carmina Coppola. She is a director, known for Somewhere (2010), Lost in Translation (2003) and Marie Antoinette (2006). She has been married to Thomas Mars since August 27, 2011. They have two children. She was ...
55. Isabel Coixet
Director | The Secret Life of Words
Isabel Coixet was born on April 9, 1960 in Sant Adrià de Besòs, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain as Isabel Coixet Castillo. She is a director and writer, known for The Secret Life of Words (2005), My Life Without Me (2003) and Cosas que nunca te dije (1996).
56. Patty Jenkins
Director | Wonder Woman
Patty Jenkins is a writer/director best known for directing Wonder Woman, the Warner Bros./DC Comics blockbuster of 2017, and her debut feature Monster. Patty also works in television where she is best known for the pilot and finale episode of AMC's hit show The Killing.
Patty began her career as a ...
Director | American Splendor
Shari Springer Berman was born on July 13, 1963 in New York City, New York, USA. She is a director and writer, known for American Splendor (2003), The Nanny Diaries (2007) and The Extra Man (2010). She has been married to Robert Pulcini since 1994.
Director | Sib
Samira Makhmalbaf Filmmaker
Born on February 15,1980 in Tehran. At the age of eight, she played in "The Cyclist" directed by her father, Mohsen Makhmalbaf the celebrated Iranian filmmaker.
At the age of 17, she directed her first feature titled "The Apple" and She went on to become the youngest ...
60. Nicole Kassell
Director | The Woodsman
Nicole Kassell received a BA from Columbia University in Art History and an MFA from NYU's Film Program, where she was honored with full scholarships for two years. Her short film, "Jaime," won the DGA student female filmmaker prize, and her thesis film, "The Green Hour," premiered at the Sundance ...
63. Miranda July
Writer | Me and You and Everyone We Know
Filmmaker Magazine rated her #1 in their "25 New Faces of Indie Film" in 2004!
She is a performance artist and published short story writer. Since becoming a filmmaker, her debut feature, Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005) has won several film awards.
Daughter of Lindy Hough and Richard ...
Director | A Perfect Day
Key figure of contemporary Lebanese cinema, along with Khalil Joreige, with whom she has worked in partnership since the beginning of her career, Joana Hadjithomas studied (already with Joreige) in France and in the USA. She (and Koreige of course) both graduated from the University of Nanterre and,...
66. Karen Moncrieff
Director | The Keeping Hours
After receiving a B.S. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University, Moncrieff moved to California to pursue a career as an actress. She appeared in numerous TV shows and B-movies and was a series regular on Santa Barbara (as Cassandra Lockridge) and Days of Our Lives (as Gabrielle Pascal.)
67. Valerie Faris
Director | Little Miss Sunshine
Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris have built an impressive body of work by perpetually seeking innovative projects in a variety of mediums.
After introducing bands such as REM and The Red Hot Chili Peppers on their ground breaking MTV show The Cutting Edge, Jonathan and Valerie continued to work in ...
75. Lone Scherfig
Director | An Education
Writer/director Lone Scherfig graduated from The National Film School of Denmark in 1984. Her first feature film, THE BIRTHDAY TRIP (1990), was selected for Panorama in Berlin, the New Directors section at MOMA in New York and won the Grand Jury Prix in Rouen. Her next film, ON OUR OWN (1998), ...
Director | Pokot
Agnieszka Holland was born 28 of November 1948 in Warsaw but went to Czechoslovakia to study film directing at FAMU in Prague. She began her film career working in Poland with Krzysztof Zanussi as assistant director, and Andrzej Wajda as her mentor. She wrote several scripts with Wajda before ...
87. Kathryn Bigelow
Director | The Hurt Locker
A very talented painter, Kathryn spent two years at the San Francisco Art Institute. At 20, she won a scholarship to the Whitney Museum's Independent Study Program. She was given a studio in a former Offtrack Betting building, literally in an old bank vault, where she made art and waited to be ...
88. Lana Wachowski
Writer | The Matrix
Lana Wachowski and her sister Lilly Wachowski, (also known as 'The Wachowskis') are the duo behind ground-breaking movies such as The Matrix (1999) and Cloud Atlas (2012). Born to mother Lynne, a nurse, and father Ron, a businessman of Polish descent, Wachowski grew up in Chicago and formed a tight...
Mostly known as Larry Wachowski, he transitioned to a woman around 2009.
96. Ronit Elkabetz
Actress | Gett
Born in Beershaba in 1964, Ronit was an awkward child who felt she was different from others, but when she became an actress (more or less by chance at the age of 26) with a star role in Daniel Wachsmann's 'Hameyu'ad' ['The Appointed (1990)'], this complex became an asset. This beautiful brunette ...
Director | Mustang
In 2011 Ergüven was invited to attend the Cannes Film Festivals Atelier to help develop her project, The Kings. While there she met fellow director Alice Winocour who was there to develop her first feature film Augustine. After Ergüven was unable to find financing for her film Winocour suggested ...
100. Maren Ade
Producer | Toni Erdmann
Maren Ade was born in Karlsruhe on 12 December 1976 to a couple of teachers.She studied cinema at Munich's Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film. As of 2001 she co-founded, together with Janine Jackowski, a fellow graduate from HFF, the "Komplizen" film company. It is through Komplizen that Maren would...