Women Film Directors who last directed before 2003by writingarises | created - 18 May 2014 | updated - 06 Jul 2015 | Public
OK... I've been making a list of women film directors active 2003 or later and it's over 5,000 strong. Finally realizing it makes sense for me to build a list of all the rest of them. If I have anyone on the wrong list, please give a shout out and I'll update. This one's just getting started and I know there are a LOT of filmmakers who belong on this list, so give me a shout out about that too. Yes, it would have been sensible to do this before, but I'm doing it now. The 2003 onward list is here: http://www.imdb.com/list/RLC1gMTqtnY
1. Ida Lupino
Actress | High Sierra
Ida was born in London to a show business family. In 1933, her mother brought Ida with her to an audition and Ida got the part her mother wanted. The picture was Her First Affaire (1932). Ida, a bleached blonde, came to Hollywood in 1934 and played small and insignificant parts. Peter Ibbetson (...
3. 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 Primary Colors (1998). She was previously married to David L. Rubinfine, Sheldon Harnick and Marvin May.
Actress | The Day of the Jackal
Delphine was born in Beirut on the 10th April 1932 into an intellectual Protestant family. Her Alsatian father, Henri Seyrig, was the director of the Archaeological Institute and later France's cultural attaché in New York during World War Two. Her Swiss mother, Hermine De Saussure, was an adept of...
5. Alice Guy
Director | Shadows of the Moulin Rouge
Generally considered to be the world's first female director, French-born Alice Guy entered the film business as a secretary at Gaumont-Paris in 1896. The next year Gaumont changed from manufacturing cameras to producing movies, and Guy became one of its first film directors. She impressed the the ...
Leni Riefenstahl's show-biz experience began with an experiment: she wanted to know what it felt like to dance on the stage. Success as a dancer gave way to film acting when she attracted the attention of film director Arnold Fanck, subsequently starring in some of his mountaineering pictures. With...
Writer | Terminal Island
Writer/director Stephanie Rothman was one of the few female filmmakers who specialized in low-budget drive-in exploitation fare in the '60s and '70s. Her movies are distinguished by gutsy, strong-willed and sympathetic women main characters and a radical libertarian feminist point of view. ...
11. Tatyana Lioznova
Director | Tri topolya na Plyushchikhe
Tatyana Lioznova was born on July 20, 1924 in Moscow, RSFSR, USSR as Tatyana Moiseevna Lioznova. She was a director and writer, known for Three Poplars at Plyuschikha Street (1968), Konets sveta s posleduyushchim simpoziumom (1987) and Karnaval (1982). She died on September 29, 2011 in Moscow, ...
12. Asta Nielsen
Actress | Hamlet
Danish leading woman of German films who became one of the greatest stars of the silent era. A native of the Copenhagen suburb of Vesterbro, Nielsen was the daughter of a coppersmith and a washerwoman, both of whom died before Nielsen was fifteen. Her stage debut came as a child in the chorus of ...
13. Dorothy Arzner
Director | Christopher Strong
Dorothy Arzner, the only woman director during the "Golden Age" of Hollywood's studio system--from the 1920s to the early 1940s and the woman director with the largest oeuvre in Hollywood to this day--was born January 3, 1897 (some sources put the year as 1900), in San Francisco, California, to a ...
14. Germaine Dulac
Director | La souriante Madame Beudet
The daughter of a cavalry captain, she was raised by a grandmother in Paris, where she studied various forms of art with an emphasis on music and the opera. In 1905 she married engineer-novelist Marie-Louis Albert-Dulac and under his influence veered toward journalism. As one of the leading radical...
15. Maya Deren
Director | Meshes of the Afternoon
Maya Deren came to the USA in 1922 as Eleanora Derenkowsky. Together with her father, a psychiatrist, and her mother, an artist, she fled the pogroms against Russian Jews. She studied journalism and political science in at Syracuse University in New York, finishing her BA at NYU in June 1936 and ...
16. Lois Weber
Director | Suspense
Lois Weber, who had been a street-corner evangelist before entering motion pictures in 1905, became the first American woman movie director of note, and a major one at that. Herbert Blaché, the husband of Frenchwoman Alice Guy, the first woman to direct a motion picture (and arguably, the first ...
17. Shirley Clarke
Director | The Cool World
Shirley Clarke was born on October 2, 1919 in New York City, New York, USA as Shirley Brimberg. She was a director and editor, known for The Cool World (1963), Skyscraper (1960) and The Connection (1961). She was married to Bert Clarke. She died on September 23, 1997.
19. Liane Brandon
Director | Once Upon a Choice
Liane Brandon is an award winning independent filmmaker, photographer and University of Massachusetts/Amherst Professor Emeritus. She was one of the first independent women filmmakers to emerge from the Women's Movement.
During that time she was a member of Newsreel film collective and Bread and ...
Actress | Human Wreckage
The Davenport family was well known in theatrical circles. Her aunt, Fanny Davenport was considered one of the greatest stage actresses of her time and her father, Harry Davenport, was a Broadway star before later venturing into movies. Her mother, Alice Davenport, was a respected Broadway and film...
22. Barbara Loden
Actress | Wanda
A one-time pin-up beauty and magazine story model, Barbara Loden studied acting in New York in the early 50s and was on the Broadway boards within the decade. She was discovered for films by legendary producer/director Elia Kazan who was impressed with what she did in a small role as Montgomery ...
23. Birgit Hein
Director | Die unheimlichen Frauen
Birgit Hein was born on August 6, 1942 in Berlin, Germany. She is a director and writer, known for Die unheimlichen Frauen (1992), Baby, I Will Make You Sweat (1995) and La moderna poesia (2000). She has been married to Hein, Wilhelm since 1964. They have one child.
28. Kinuyo Tanaka
Actress | Joyû Sumako no koi
Tanaka Kinuyo was a highly regarded and prolific actress best known for her films with director Mizoguchi Kenji. She was immersed in the world of film having received her start in the world of entertainment at age fourteen, being a filmmaker herself, being the cousin of director Kobayashi Masaki ...
29. Lotte Reiniger
Director | Silhouetten
Lotte Reiniger was born on June 2, 1899 in Berlin, Germany as Charlotte Reiniger. She is known for her work on Silhouetten (1936), The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) and Here and There (1949). She was married to Carl Koch. She died on June 19, 1981 in Dettenhausen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.
30. Mai Zetterling
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 ...
31. Shamim Ara
Director | Playboy
Shamim Ara is a renowned film actress, film producer and film director of Pakistan. She was born in British India at Aligarh in 1938. Her father's name was Syed Ali Ahmad and her maternal grandmother's name was Iqbal Begum who played a very active role in developing Shamim Ara's film career in ...
Editor | Khaneh siah ast
Farugh Farrokhzad was primarily a poet. Indeed, she is regarded as one of the most important poets of the twentieth century in Iran, which has a millennium of poetic tradition behind it. Although she only made one film, the 22 minute so-called documentary "The House is Black", this work is ...
33. Jacqueline Audry
Director | Olivia
At a time when women directors make more and more their presence felt on the French scene ,the importance of Jacqueline Audry cannot be overstated .All today's daring Metteuses En Scene are certainly her psychic daughters as they are Agnès Varda's.Audry ,born in 1908 ,began to direct long before ...
34. Marguerite Duras
Writer | Le camion
Ms. Duras was born in southern Vietnam and lost her father at age 4. The family savings of 20 years bought the family a small plot in Cambodia, but everything was lost in a single season's flooding. The disaster killed her mother as a result. After high school in Saigon, Ms. Duras left Indochina to...
35. Elvira Notari
Director | Ritorna all'onda
Elvira Notari was born on February 10, 1875 in Salerno, Campania, Italy. She was a director and actress, known for Ritorna all'onda (1914), È piccerella (1922) and Eroismo di un aviatore militare a Tripoli (1912). She was married to Nicola Notari. She died on December 17, 1946 in Cava de' ...
36. Edith Carlmar
Actress | Fjols til fjells
Edith Carlmar was born on November 15, 1911 in Oslo, Norway. She was an actress and director, known for Fools in the Mountains (1957), Death is a Caress (1949) and Bedre enn sitt rykte (1955). She was married to Otto Carlmar. She died on May 17, 2003 in Oslo.
38. Ana Mariscal
Actress | Un hombre va por el camino
Ana Mariscal was born on July 31, 1923 in Madrid, Spain as Ana María Rodríguez-Arroyo Mariscal. She was an actress and director, known for A Man on the Road (1949), Una sombra en la ventana (1945) and Segundo López, aventurero urbano (1953). She was married to Valentín Javier. She died on ...
40. Pilar Miró
Director | El perro del hortelano
Born to a military family. Attends law studies before starting a newspaper career. In 1960 starts on TV. Joins the Socialist Party in 1976 and conducts the electoral campaign in 1982 and in the same year she is designated General Director of Cinema. Resigning in 1985, the next year she joins the ...
41. Jane Arden
Actress | The Other Side of the Underneath
Jane Arden was born in Wales in 1927 and left for London in her teens.
She trained at RADA and quickly began working as an actress and playwright. It was there that she met her future husband, Philip Saville, who is now perhaps most known for his work Boys from the Blackstuff (1982) and The Life and...
42. Margery Wilson
Actress | Insinuation
Margery Wilson was born on October 31, 1896 in Gracey, Kentucky, USA as Sarah Barker Strayer. She was an actress and director, known for Insinuation (1922), The Offenders (1922) and The Clodhopper (1917). She was married to Vance Link Bushnell, Otto Meek and William Williamson. She died on January ...
Writer | Edward Scissorhands
Caroline Thompson was born on April 23, 1956 in Washington, District of Columbia, USA. She is a writer and producer, known for Edward Scissorhands (1990), The Addams Family (1991) and Corpse Bride (2005). She is married to Steve Nicolaides. She was previously married to Henry Bromell.
Director | Baseynat
Binka Zhelyazkova was born on July 15, 1923 in the town of Svilengrad, Bulgaria. She studied theater at the National Theater Institute in Sofia. Her career as a film director began in 1957 when she co-directed her first feature film Life Goes Quietly By... with her husband Hristo Ganev.
At the end ...
51. Helen Grace
57. Jean Bach
Director | The Spitball Story
Jean Bach was born on September 27, 1918 in Chicago, Illinois, USA as Jean Enzinger. She was a director and writer, known for The Spitball Story (1997), A Great Day in Harlem (1994) and Charlie Rose (1991). She was married to Bob Bach and Shorty Sherock. She died on May 27, 2013 in New York City, ...
58. Janice Karman
Writer | Alvin & the Chipmunks
Janice Karman was born on May 21, 1954 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Janice Felice Karman. She is a writer and actress, known for Alvin & the Chipmunks (1983), The Chipmunk Adventure (1987) and Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007). She has been married to Ross Bagdasarian Jr. since September 27,...
59. Jeanne Moreau
Actress | Jules et Jim
When people gave Louis Malle credit for making a star of Jeanne Moreau in Elevator to the Gallows (1958) immediately followed by The Lovers (1958), he would point out that Moreau by that time had already been "recognized as the prime stage actress of her generation." She had made it to the Comédie ...
62. Larisa Shepitko
Director | Voskhozhdenie
Larisa Shepitko was born on January 6, 1938 in Artyomovsk, Ukrainian SSR, USSR as Larisa Yefimovna Shepitko. She was a director and writer, known for The Ascent (1977), Heat (1963) and You and Me (1971). She was married to Elem Klimov. She died on July 2, 1979.
Writer | De eso no se habla
María Luisa Bemberg was born on April 14, 1922 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She was a writer and director, known for I Don't Want to Talk About It (1993), I, the Worst of All (1990) and Miss Mary (1986). She was married to Carlos Maria Miguens y Zumarán. She died on May 7, 1995 in Buenos Aires.
70. Jill Godmilow
Director | What Farocki Taught
Born outside Philadelphia in 1943, majored in Russian literature at the University of Wisconsin. An independent filmmaker, primarily of non-fiction works, since 1967. Only one dramatic feature film, WAITING FOR THE MOON, which won 1st prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1987. Since 1992, a ...
72. Stella Stevens
Actress | The Poseidon Adventure
A native of Hot Coffee, Mississippi. While attending Memphis State College, Stella became interested in acting and modeling. Her film debut was a bit part in Say One for Me (1959), but her appearance in Li'l Abner (1959) as Appassionata Von Climax is the one that got her noticed. Then her ...
Producer | Radium Girls
Active producer. One earlier documentary directing credit.
77. Anna Maria Tatò
Domestic partner of Marcello Mastroianni.
Director | Naked Acts
She took a screenwriting course in 1991 out of curiosity and soon found herself immersed in filmmaking. She graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia in 1982. She is an Associate Professor of English at City University of New York's Baruch College where she teaches TV and Film Writing, ...
80. Anne de Marcken
Cinematographer | Group
Anne de Marcken is a time-based artist working in literary fiction, film and video, digital photography, and interactive code. Her credits include short stories, poetry, screenplays, short and feature-length films and videos, and interactive web environments.
Her writing has been featured on NPR's ...
85. Tressie Souders
Director | A Woman's Error
Little is known about Theresa "Tressie" Souders, who in 1922, became the first known African-American female director, when the Afro-American Film Exhibitors Company of Baltimore and Dallas, Texas, contracted with her to distribute her film "A Woman's Error." Billboard Magazine for January 28, 1922...
Writer | She's Gotta Have It
Zora Neale Hurston was born on January 7, 1891 in Notasulga, Alabama, USA. She was a writer and director, known for She's Gotta Have It (1986), Barracoon and Zora Neale Hurston Fieldwork Footage (1928). She was married to Albert Price III and Herbert Sheen. She died on January 28, 1960 in Saint ...
87. Eloyce Gist
Director | Hellbound Train
Eloyce Gist was born on October 21, 1892 in Hitchcock, Texas, USA as Mayme Eloyce King. She was a director and actress, known for Hellbound Train (1930), Verdict Not Guilty (1933) and Heaven-Bound Traveler (1935). She was married to John William Slaughter, Arthur C. Wood, James Gist and Roscoe C. ...
90. Cauleen Smith
Director | Drylongso
Cauleen Smith was born in Riverside, California and grew up in the Sacramento area. She completed her B.A. at San Francisco State University in 1991 and her M.F.A. in Film at UCLA in 1998. Her feature length film Drylongso received a lot of attention after its showing at the Sundance Film Festival....
94. Karin Swanström
Actress | Kalle Utter
Karin Swanström was born on June 13, 1873 in Norrköping, Östergötlands län, Sweden. She is known for her work on Kalle Utter (1925), Flygande holländaren (1925) and The Saga of Gösta Berling (1924). She was married to Stellan Claësson. She died on July 5, 1942 in Stockholm, Stockholms län...
95. Sarah Kernochan
Writer | Nine 1/2 Weeks
Sarah Kernochan was born in New York City. Educated at Rosemary Hall and Sarah Lawrence, she achieved early success by winning the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary, at age 27, for her film "Marjoe." Her next move was to record two RCA albums as a singer-songwriter. Two years later her ...
96. Nell Shipman
Actress | The Grub Stake
Canadian-born actress, writer, producer and animal trainer Nell Shipman was best known for writing and acting in several James Oliver Curwood stories and for her portrayals of strong, adventurous women, with many of her productions being filmed in Canada. Her son, Barry Shipman, became a prolific ...
97. Frances Marion
Writer | The Big House
The most renowned female screenwriter of the 20th century, and one of the most respected scripters of any gender, Frances Marion was born in San Francisco. She modeled and acted and had some success as a commercial artist. She entered into journalism and served in Europe as a combat correspondent ...
98. Mabel Normand
Actress | Mickey
Mabel Normand was one of the comedy greats of early film. In an era when women are deemed 'not funny enough' it seems film history has forgotten her contributions. Her films debuted the Keystone Cops, Charlie Chaplin's tramp and the pie in the face gag. She co-starred with both Chaplin and Roscoe "...
99. Lillian Gish
Actress | The Night of the Hunter
Lillian Diana Gish was born on October 14, 1893 in Springfield, Ohio. Her father, James Lee Gish, was an alcoholic who caroused around, was rarely at home and left the family to more or less to fend for themselves. To help make ends meet, Lillian, her sister Dorothy Gish and their mother Mary Gish ...
100. Marguerite Bertsch
Writer | The Devil's Prize
A successful playwright, Marguerite Bertsch was hired by Vitagraph in 1913 as a screenwriter. After writing several successful pictures for the studio, she was given the chance to direct, at first with a co-director (William P.S. Earle) on The Law Decides (1916), then on her own with The Devil's ...