The Best 100 Women Directors

by joegirard | created - 26 Mar 2014 | updated - 4 weeks ago | Public

I was inspired to update this, my most viewed list, due to this incredible speech written and delivered by Jill Soloway, called The Female Gaze ( If you're here because you're a woman thinking of becoming a director, or any woman of narrative ambition, I can't recommend this speech highly enough. Topple the patriarchy indeed.

Now, just a word about my approach to this jangly list:

Great, ambitious male directors have been allowed to work almost without restraint (comparatively speaking), so we have a broad spectrum of prolific (Akira Kurosawa) to selective (Spike Jonze) directors to choose from, making ranking somewhat easier, or perhaps more interesting. There's also a sense with great male directors that they're getting to make what they want to make (think Frank Darabont), and therefore we know something about them by taking in their entire body of work. Their good and bad, on and off years, the talents (DPs, actors, composers, etc.) they work better with than others, their passion vs. commercial projects, and so on. Any spectrum you can think of is a spectrum a well-known male director can be easily judged by.

With great female directors directing fiction, few are able, it seems, to be both prolific and ambitious (Sofia Coppola, The Wachowski Sisters), and I wonder how easy it would be to be selective (*is* Valerie Faris--or any woman with under five features--really trying for selectivity?). Also, with only one or two great films to go by, how can one compare the effect of any given director on their project? Sadly, where women have largely gotten work is on television where their craft, however deft, is subsumed by the larger vision of the series as an ongoing whole.

I have not had the honour of seeing anything directed by Angelina Jolie, Claire Denis, Lexi Alexander, Nancy Meyers, Lina Wertmuller, Agnes Varda, Amma Asante, Dee Rees, Miranda July, Mia Hansen-Love, Gillian Armstrong, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Ida Lupino, Barbra Streisand, Haifaa Al-Mansour, Agnes Jaoui, Anne Fontaine, Deepa Mehta, Katherine Dieckmann, Clare Kilner, Julie Davis, Chantal Akerman, Vera Chytilova, Leni Riefenstahl, Larisa Shepitko, Samira Makhmalbaf, Sian Heder, Meera Menon, Niki Caro, Dawn Porter, So Yong Kim, Sarah Gavron, Sophie Hyde, Deniz Gamze Erguven, Melanie Laurant, Patricia Riggen, Desiree Akhavan, Anna Muylaert, Maya Forbes, Debbie Allen, Ana Lily Amirpour, Jamie Babbit, Anna Boden, Isabel Coixet, Gia Coppola, Donna Deitch, Julie Delpy, Shana Feste, Hannah Fidell, Tanya Hamilton, Sanaa Hamri, Leslye Headland, Beeban Kidron, Julia Leigh, Phyllida Lloyd, Jocelyn Moorhouse, Stacie Passon, Gillian Robespierre, Patricia Rozema, Jill Sprecher, Alice Winocour

1. 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 ...

(Little Miss Sunshine, Ruby Sparks, Assorted Music Videos) The Battle of the Sexes

Best Film: Little Miss Sunshine

If film is, as Roger Ebert would have us believe, an empathy machine, Valerie Faris is one of its master engineers.

How such a broad scope of character plays within such a narrow, if obtuse, framework in Little Miss Sunshine is mind-boggling. It's the first great family dramedy of the new millennium, finishing the conversation that Donnie Darko started (about the dimension of family), and second only to American Beauty in its emotional, cultural transcendence. A fireworks explosion of narrative invention.

While perhaps lacking the awesome visual panache of a Lana Wachowski or Sophia Coppola, Faris wins big on two fronts: watchability and humanity. If she wasn't so exacting with her script choices, she'd be the Jill Soloway of the silver screen. Instead, she might just be the female answer to Kaufmann and Jonze.

On first watch, you'll love Little Miss Sunshine. On second, you'll adore it. Ever after, you'll be transfixed by the breadth of humour, devastation, humility and love buried between the layers of her work.

Long may she thunder.

2. Beth McCarthy-Miller

Director | 30 Rock

Beth McCarthy-Miller was born on September 3, 1963 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA as Beth McCarthy Miller. She is a director and producer, known for 30 Rock (2006), Modern Family (2009) and Saturday Night Live (1975).

(SNL (218), 30 Rock (23), Parks and Rec (3), The Mindy Project (3), REM: This Film Is On, SNL: Best of Phil Hartman, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Tim Meadows, Will Ferrell, Chris Kattan, Will Ferrell Vol. 2, Christopher Walken, Tom Hanks, Alec Baldwin, Amy Poehler)

3. Mary Harron

Director | American Psycho

Mary Harron (born January 12, 1953) is a Canadian filmmaker and screenwriter. She gained recognition for her role in writing and directing several independent films, including I Shot Andy Warhol (1996), American Psycho (2000), and The Notorious Bettie Page (2005). She co-wrote American Psycho and ...

(American Psycho, I Shot Andy Warhol, Oz (1), Six Feet Under (1), Big Love (1), The Moth Diaries) The Notorious Bettie Page, XX

Best Film: American Psycho

For a little while there, I wondered how much of Mary Harron was actually in Andrzej Sekula's cinematography. Now that the matter feels settled, I'm left to wonder if, in a fairer world, Harron may have been the female answer to Stanley Kubrick, another master of adapting great books, with an emotionally distant voice, and a keen interest in the role of sex in society. Call me an elite, but I love a story that can dispense with how we're supposed to feel about the people, and gets down to how we're supposed to feel about the ideas. (There's something to be said for the tragedy of how easy it is to do this badly.)

Critics have, by and large, awarded her praises in tune with her perversity--which can never be recommended to grandma or the kids, of course--safely lauding her leads over her narrative craft. Not that John Waters, or Kubrick for that matter, were treated differently. It's the trouble with being an ambitious sophisticate.

American Psycho is certainly a high-wire act, with many rewards for the open-minded, and a collision of realities you aren't like to find outside of a Fincher or Nolan picture. For a story centered on a deplorable, bottomlessly sad individual, whose life is shot like the inside of a vacant storage facility, I doubt you'll ever find a more electrifying result.

4. Lynne Ramsay

Director | You Were Never Really Here

Lynne Ramsay was born on December 5, 1969 in Glasgow, Strathclyde, Scotland. She is a director and writer, known for You Were Never Really Here (2017), We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) and Morvern Callar (2002). She was previously married to Rory Stewart Kinnear.

(You Were Never Really Here, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Ratcatcher, Gasman) Morvern Callar

5. Michelle MacLaren

Producer | Breaking Bad

Michelle MacLaren was born in 1965 in Canada. She is a producer and director, known for Breaking Bad (2008), The Walking Dead (2010) and Game of Thrones (2011).

(Game of Thrones (4), The Walking Dead (3), Breaking Bad (11), The X-Files (1))

6. 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...

w/Lilly (The Matrix, Matrix Reloaded, Matrix Revolutions, Bound, Cloud Atlas – V for Vendetta) Sense 8

7. Lynn Shelton

Director | Humpday

Lynn Shelton is a director and actress, known for Humpday (2009), Laggies (2014) and Your Sister's Sister (2011).

(Your Sister’s Sister, Humpday, The Mindy Project (2), Mad Men (1)) Laggies, Touchy Feely

8. Barbara Kopple

Director | American Dream

Barbara Kopple was born on July 30, 1946 in New York City, New York, USA. She is a director and producer, known for American Dream (1990), Harlan County U.S.A. (1976) and Shut Up & Sing (2006).

(Shut Up & Sing, Harlan County U.S.A., Havoc, Oz(1))

9. Sofia Coppola

Actress | The Godfather Part III

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 ...

(Lost in Translation, The Virgin Suicides, The Bling Ring, The Beguiled, Somewhere, Marie Antoinette)

Best Film: Lost in Translation

Coppola's funny. Her work kind of exists on both spectrums of good and bad simultaneously for me. It's a push and pull relationship I'd say most people enjoy from her, which is probably why Lost in Translation and The Bling Ring resonate so well. Two stories where a clash of cultures and identities become the focal point, the vortex.

When her ambitions flare up, like in Somewhere and Marie Antoinette, it's like someone laid down on the whole register of the piano, too many strings pulling at once.

10. Marjane Satrapi

Director | Persepolis

Marjane Satrapi was born on November 22, 1969 in Rasht, Iran. She is a director and actress, known for Persepolis (2007), The Voices (2014) and Chicken with Plums (2011). She is married to Mattias Ripa. She was previously married to Reza.

(Persepolis, Chicken with Plums) The Voices

11. 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...

(The Piano, Top of the Lake (7), Sweetie – Special Mention: Holy Smoke, Bright Star) In the Cut

12. Ava DuVernay

Producer | Selma

A director, producer, writer, marketer and film distributor, Ava DuVernay made her feature film debut with the documentary This in the Life (2008), a history on hip hop movement that flourished in Los Angeles in the 1990's. This was followed by series of television music documentaries which ...

(The 13th, Selma, I Will Follow) A Wrinkle in Time, Middle of Nowhere

13. Sarah Polley

Actress | The Sweet Hereafter

Sarah Polley is an actress and director renowned in her native Canada for her political activism. Blessed with an extremely expressive face that enables directors to minimize dialog due to her uncanny ability to suggest a character's thoughts, Polley has become a favorite of critics for her ...

(Stories We Tell, Away From Her)

14. Lauren Greenfield

Director | The Queen of Versailles

Lauren Greenfield is a director and producer, known for The Queen of Versailles (2012), Thin (2006) and Kids + Money (2008).

(The Queen of Versailles) Thin

15. Gail Mancuso

Director | Modern Family

Noted TV series director Gail Mancuso grew up in suburban Cook County, Illinois. Mancuso began her career as an usher of the set of several television talk shows. Later, became a script supervisor for the Showtime Cable Network comedy "Brothers". In 1989, she began serving as associate director for...

(30 Rock (8), Roseanne (51), Community (1), Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place (7), Dharma and Greg (28), Friends (14), Ellen (7), Just Shoot Me (1), Herman’s Head (1))

16. Laura Poitras

Producer | Citizenfour

Laura Poitras was born on February 2, 1964 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. She is a producer and cinematographer, known for Citizenfour (2014), The Oath (2010) and My Country, My Country (2006).

(Citizenfour, The Oath)

17. Christine Cynn

Producer | The Act of Killing

Christine Cynn is a producer and director, known for The Act of Killing (2012), Shooting Ourselves (2016) and P.O.V. (1988).

(The Act of Killing)

18. Brenda Chapman

Writer | Brave

Brenda Chapman was born on November 1, 1962 in Beason, Illinois, USA. She is known for her work on Brave (2012), The Prince of Egypt (1998) and The Lion King (1994). She is married to Kevin Lima. They have one child.

(Brave, The Prince of Egypt – Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Chicken Run, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Fantasia 2000, The Little Mermaid, The Rescuers Down Under, The Road to El Dorado) Come Away

19. Andrea Arnold

Director | American Honey

Andrea Arnold was born on April 5, 1961 in Dartford, Kent, England as Andrea P. Arnold. She is an actress and director, known for American Honey (2016), Fish Tank (2009) and Red Road (2006).

(American Honey, Fish Tank, Red Road, Wasp) Transparent, Wuthering Heights

20. 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 ...

(Point Break, Detroit, Near Dark, Strange Days, The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty)

21. Lesli Linka Glatter

Director | Homeland

Lesli Linka Glatter is a director of film, network, cable and premium cable television drama, with both pilots and episodes to her credit. Lesli's TV work includes Homeland (2011), The Newsroom (2012), The Walking Dead (2010), Justified (2010), Ray Donovan (2013), Masters of Sex (2013), Nashville (...

(Twin Peaks (4), Mad Men (6), True Blood (3), The Walking Dead (1)) The West Wing (8)

22. Greta Gerwig

Writer | Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig is an American actress, playwright, screenwriter, and director. She has collaborated with Noah Baumbach on several films, including Greenberg (2010), Frances Ha (2012), for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination, and Mistress America (2015). Gerwig made her solo directorial debut ...

(Lady Bird) Little Women

23. Sophie Fiennes

Director | Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami

Sophie Fiennes was born on February 12, 1967 in Ipswich, Suffolk, England as Sophia Victoria Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes. She is a director and editor, known for Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (2017), Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow (2010) and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989).

(The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology) Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow

24. 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 ...

(Hysterical Blindness, The Reluctant Fundamentalist – September 11) Monsoon Wedding, The Namesake, Salaam Bombay

25. Barbara Brancaccio

Director | Cropsey

Barbara Brancaccio is a director and producer, known for Cropsey (2009).


26. Marielle Heller

Director | The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Marielle Heller is a writer, director and actor. She was selected as a 2012 Sundance Screenwriting Fellow and 2012 Sundance Directing Fellow, and was honored with the Lynn Auerbach Screenwriting Fellowship, and The Maryland Film Festival Fellowship. Her writing credits include pilots for ABC and ...

(The Diary of a Teenage Girl) Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Transparent

27. 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 1985, ...

(Clueless, National Lampoon’s European Vacation, A Night at the Roxbury, Look Who’s Talking, Look Who’s Walking Too, The Office (1)) Fast Times at Ridgement High

28. Tamara Jenkins

Director | The Savages

Tamara Jenkins was born on May 2, 1962 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. She is married to Jim Taylor.

(The Savages, Slums of Beverly Hills)

29. Nicole Holofcener

Director | Enough Said

Nicole Holofcener was born on March 22, 1960 in New York City, New York, USA. She is a director and writer, known for Enough Said (2013), Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) and Please Give (2010). She was previously married to Benjamin Allanoff.

(Six Feet Under (2), Enough Said) Friends with Money, Please Give, Lovely and Amazing

30. Barbara Doran

Producer | The Grand Seduction

Barbara Doran is a producer and director, known for The Grand Seduction (2013), The Passionate Eye (2005) and La Tapisserie du French Shore (2012).

(The Man Who Studies Murder)

31. 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), ...

(Julie & Julia – When Harry Met Sally, My Blue Heaven, Silkwood) You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle

32. Penelope Spheeris

Director | Suburbia

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 ...

(Wayne’s World – Special mention: The Little Rascals, The Beverly Hillbillies, Black Sheep) The Decline of Western Civilization

($9.99, Crazy Glue, A Buck’s Worth) The Opportunity

34. 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 ...

(Frida – Special mention: Titus, The Tempest) A Midsummer Night’s Dream

35. Linda Goldstein Knowlton

Producer | We Are the Radical Monarchs

Linda Goldstein Knowlton is a producer and director, known for We Are the Radical Monarchs (2019), Somewhere Between (2011) and The Shipping News (2001).

(The World According to Sesame Street (with Linda Hawkins) – As Producer: Mumford, The Shipping News) Whale Rider

36. Lisa Cholodenko

Director | The Kids Are All Right

Lisa Cholodenko earned an MFA at Columbia University Film School where she made an award-winning short film Dinner Party (1997) Her feature High Art (1998) won the National Society of Film Critics award for Ally Sheedy's performance and The Waldo Salt Screenwriting award at Sundance. Both "High Art...

(Six Feet Under (2), The Kids Are All Right) High Art, Laurel Canyon

37. Heather Donahue

Actress | The Blair Witch Project

Heather Donahue was born on December 22, 1974 in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, USA. She is an actress and writer, known for The Blair Witch Project (1999), Taken (2002) and Seven and a Match (2001).

(The Blair Witch Project)

Best Film: The Blair Witch Project

I'll write a longer review later, but I just want to say, I know this is a bit of a meta entry, but that's why I thought it was essential. Donahue is something like the Maria Falconetti of the new millennium, and I want to honour her as much as possible. She shot, starred in, and to a certain degree directed one of the most enduring horror tentpoles of all time. I think part of the reason for that is that it was in her hands, and part of the reason nothing else has had the same effect is because nothing else has been that collaborative. Of course, the scenario, the concept, the myth, and the execution was dreamt by others, but I think Heather deserves at least partial credit for being the living poetry that guided the story forwards. For becoming that director, and living her dream through to its crushing oblivion.

38. Antonia Bird

Director | Priest

Antonia Bird was born on May 27, 1951 in London, England. She was a director and producer, known for Priest (1994), Face (1997) and Ravenous (1999). She was married to Ian Ilett. She died on October 24, 2013 in London.


39. Joan Chen

Actress | Judge Dredd

Born into a family of doctors and educated in China at the Shanghai Film Academy and the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Languages, Joan Chen was discovered by veteran Chinese director Jin Xie while observing a filming with a school group. Her performance in Xiao hua (1979) (A.K.A. "The Little Flower...

(Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl)

40. Annabel Park

Director | 9500 Liberty

Annabel Park is a director and writer, known for 9500 Liberty (2009), Story of America - Journey Into the Divide and Story of America.

(9500 Liberty)

41. Loveleen Tandan

Casting_director | Slumdog Millionaire

Loveleen Tandan is an India based filmmaker and Casting Director. Her career highlights include her work as Co-Director (India) of multi award winning Slumdog Millionaire (2008) and Casting Director of award winning features like Monsoon Wedding (2001), Slumdog Millionaire (2008), Brick Lane (2007)...

(Slumdog Millionaire)

42. Tanya Wexler

Director | Hysteria

Tanya Wexler was born on August 6, 1970 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. She is a director, known for Hysteria (2011), Ball in the House (2001) and Finding North (1998). She is married to Amy Zimmerman. They have four children.

(Hysteria) Fear of Flying

43. Jill Soloway

Producer | Transparent

Jill Soloway was born on September 26, 1965 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. She is a producer and writer, known for Transparent (2014), Six Feet Under (2001) and Afternoon Delight (2013). She was previously married to Bruce Gilbert.

(Afternoon Delight -- Six Feet Under) Transparent, I Love Dick

44. Courtney Hunt

Director | Frozen River

Courtney Hunt was born in 1964 in Memphis, Tennessee, USA. She is a director and writer, known for Frozen River (2008), The Whole Truth (2016) and Fear the Walking Dead (2015).

(Frozen River, In Treatment (3))

45. Kátia Lund

Director | Cidade de Deus

Kátia Lund was born in 1966 in São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil. She is a director and writer, known for City of God (2002), News from a Personal War (1999) and Anaconda (1997).

(City of God)

46. 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...

(Toni Erdmann)

47. Heidi Ewing

Director | The Boys of Baraka

Heidi Ewing is a director and producer known for Jesus Camp (2006), The Boys of Baraka (2005), Detropia (2012) ,12th &Delaware (2010), Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You (2016), One of Us (2017) and Freakonomics (2010). She is currently completing her (currently untitled) first narrative ...

With Rachel Grady: (Jesus Camp – Special Mention: Boys of Baraka) Detropia


(The Corporation)

50. Susanne Bier

Director | Hævnen

Though Academy Award®, Golden Globe Award and Emmy Award winning writer and director Susanne Bier's films often play out against a wide-reaching global backdrop, their focus is intimate, carefully exploring the explosive emotions and complexities of familial bonds. This unique combination is part ...

(Brodre, Birdbox) After the Wedding, The Night Manager, In a Better World, Things We Lost in the Fire

51. Julia Sweeney

Actress | It's Pat: The Movie

Benevolent, sweet-faced, actress and comedienne Julia Sweeney, who was born in 1959 in Spokane, Washington, is normally identified with one single, highly unappetizing androgynous character. This sniveling, chunky-framed, springy-haired, plaid shirt-wearing, grotesque-looking character named Pat ...

(Letting Go of God) God Said, “Ha!”

52. Shira Piven

Actress | Step Brothers

Shira Piven was the child of theatre people and established herself as an actress and then stage director in Chicago and later in New York, where she was the founder and artistic director of Water Theatre Company between 1999 and 2003. Their hit show Pilgrims was and adapted and directed by Ms. ...

(Welcome To Me) Transparent (1)

53. Irena Salina

Director | Ghost Bird: The Life and Art of Judith Deim

She was born in France July 8, 1968. She acted in French theatre before moving to New York where she studied with Charles Laughton in the Actors Studio. She worked in production in various capacities on numerous films before writing and directing her first short, "See You on Monday", which was ...

(Flow: For the Love of Water) Ghost Bird

54. Rebecca Harrell Tickell

Producer | Good Fortune

Rebecca Harrell grew up in Hinesburg, Vermont. Her adopted father, a psychiatrist, and biological mother, an artist, recognized her talent at an early age. Having performed only in school plays that her mother directed, she went to NYC in hope of getting a voice-over agent. Her first audition ever ...

(The Big Fix) Fuel, Pump

55. Gabriela Cowperthwaite

Producer | Blackfish

Gabriela Cowperthwaite is a producer and director, known for Blackfish (2013), Megan Leavey (2017) and City Lax: An Urban Lacrosse Story (2010).

(Blackfish) Megan Leavey

56. Freida Lee Mock

Producer | Return with Honor

Freida Lee Mock is a producer and director, known for Return with Honor (1998), Anita (2013) and Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision (1994). She is married to Terry Sanders.

(Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision) Bird by Bird with Annie, Anita

57. Julia Ducournau

Writer | Grave

Julia Ducournau is a French film director and screenwriter. She attended film school at La Fémis in Paris, where she studied screenwriting. In 2011, her short film JUNIOR won the Petit Rail d'Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Her first feature, the horror movie RAW, won the coveted FIPRESCI ...


58. Ondi Timoner

Director | Mapplethorpe

ONDI TIMONER has the rare distinction of winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival twice - for her 2004 documentary, DIG!, and her 2009 top prize-winner, WE LIVE IN PUBLIC. Other award-winning features include: THE NATURE OF THE BEAST (1994), JOIN US (2007), COOL IT (2010) and ...

(We Live in Public) Dig!, Cool It

59. Susan Kaplan

Producer | Three of Hearts: A Postmodern Family

Susan Kaplan is a producer and director, known for Three of Hearts: A Postmodern Family (2004), Music of the Heart (1999) and Small Wonders (1995).

(Three of Hearts: A Postmodern Family)


61. Amy Berg

Producer | Deliver Us from Evil

Amy Berg was born in Los Angeles, California, USA. She is a producer and director, known for Deliver Us from Evil (2006), West of Memphis (2012) and Janis: Little Girl Blue (2015).

(West of Memphis, Deliver Us from Evil) An Open Secret, Prophet’s Prey

62. Liz Garbus

Producer | The Farm: Angola, USA

Liz Garbus was born as Elizabeth Freya Garbus. She is a producer and director, known for The Farm: Angola, USA (1998), What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015) and Girlhood (2003).

(The Execution of Wanda Jean) Nothing Left Unsaid, Bobby Fischer Against the World, What Happened, Miss Simone?

63. Jennifer Baichwal

Director | Manufactured Landscapes

Jennifer Baichwal was born in 1965 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She is a director and producer, known for Manufactured Landscapes (2006), Watermark (2013) and Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (2018).

(Manufactured Landscapes) Watermark, Payback, Act of God, Let It Come Down

64. Kimberly Reed

Producer | Dark Money

Kimberly Reed was born as Paul McKerrow. She is a producer and director, known for Dark Money (2018), Prodigal Sons (2008) and Paul Goodman Changed My Life (2011).

(Prodigal Sons)

65. Franny Armstrong

Director | McLibel

Former pop drummer and self-taught filmmaker Franny Armstrong, born 1972, has directed three feature documentaries - The Age of Stupid (2008), McLibel (2005) and Drowned Out (2003) - which have together been seen by 70 million people on TV, cinema, internet and DVD worldwide. In the early days of ...


66. Nina Conti

Writer | Her Master's Voice

Nina Conti was born in 1974 in London, England. She is an actress and writer, known for Her Master's Voice (2012), Family Tree (2013) and Blunder (2006). She is married to Stan Stanley. They have two children.

(Her Master’s Voice) Nina Conti Clowning Around, Make Me Happy

67. Susan Saladoff

Director | Hot Coffee

Susan Saladoff is a director and producer, known for Hot Coffee (2011), Democracy Now! (2001) and The Colbert Report (2005).

(Hot Coffee)

68. Agnieszka Holland

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 ...

(In Darkness, The Wire (3), Total Eclipse, The Secret Garden)

69. Laura Lau

Producer | Open Water

Laura Lau was born on March 31, 1963 in San Francisco, California, USA. She is a producer and writer, known for Open Water (2003), Silent House (2011) and Grind (1997). She has been married to Chris Kentis since 1997. They have one child.

(Silent House - Open Water)

(Rain – Special mention: Sylvia) Sunshine Cleaning

71. Doris Dörrie

Writer | Kirschblüten - Hanami

Doris Dörrie was born on May 26, 1955 in Hannover, Lower Saxony, Germany. She is a writer and director, known for Cherry Blossoms (2008), Men... (1985) and Grüsse aus Fukushima (2016). She was previously married to Helge Weindler.

(Enlightenment Guaranteed)

72. Kathy Bates

Actress | Misery

Multi-talented Kathleen Doyle Bates was born on June 28, 1948, and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. She is the youngest of three girls born to Bertye Kathleen (Talbot), a homemaker, and Langdon Doyle Bates, a mechanical engineer. Her grandfather was author Finis L. Bates. Kathy has English, as well as...

(Six Feet Under (4), Oz (1))

73. Christine Lahti

Actress | Chicago Hope

Christine Lahti was born April 4, 1950 in Birmingham, Michigan, to Elizabeth Margaret (Tabar), a painter and nurse, and Paul Theodore Lahti, a surgeon. She is of half Finnish and half Austro-Hungarian descent. She studied fine arts at Florida State University and received a bachelors degree in ...

(My First Mister)

74. Jennifer Kent

Director | The Babadook

Jennifer Kent is an actress and director, known for The Babadook (2014), The Nightingale (2018) and Monster (2005).

(The Babadook)

75. Kimberly Peirce

Director | Boys Don't Cry

Kimberly Peirce was born on September 8, 1967 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA. She is a director and writer, known for Boys Don't Cry (1999), Stop-Loss (2008) and Carrie (2013).

(Boys Don’t Cry, Carrie) Stop-Loss

76. Lucía Puenzo

Writer | XXY

Lucía Puenzo was born on November 28, 1976 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is a writer and director, known for XXY (2007), The German Doctor (2013) and The Fish Child (2009).

(XXY) The Fish Child, The German Doctor

77. Jennifer Celotta

Producer | The Office

Jennifer Celotta was born on November 11, 1971 in Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA as Jennifer Ann Celotta. She is a producer and writer, known for The Office (2005), Andy Richter Controls the Universe (2002) and The Trouble with Normal (2000).

(The Office (3) – The Office (98), Malcolm in the Middle (22))

78. Stacy Title

Director | Let the Devil Wear Black

Stacy Title is a director and producer, known for Let the Devil Wear Black (1999), The Last Supper (1995) and Down on the Waterfront (1993). She is married to Jonathan Penner. They have two children.

(The Last Supper, The Bye Bye Man)

79. Naomi Klein

Writer | This Changes Everything

Naomi Klein was born on May 8, 1970 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She is a writer and producer, known for This Changes Everything (2015), The Take (2004) and When the Storm Fades (2018). She is married to Avi Lewis.

(The Take, The Shock Doctrine) This Changes Everything

80. Euzhan Palcy

Writer | Rue cases nègres

Euzhan Palcy was born on January 13, 1958 in Martinique, France. She is a writer and director, known for Black Shack Alley (1983), Siméon (1992) and A Dry White Season (1989).

(A Dry White Season)

81. Nancy Kruse

Animation_department | Zootopia

(The Simpsons (26) – The Simpsons Movie, Wreck-It Ralph)

82. Pepita Ferrari

Director | The Unsexing of Emma Edmonds

Filmmaker and long-time partner of Filmmaker Louis Piché.

(Capturing Reality)

83. Leanne Pooley

Director | Beyond the Edge

Leanne Pooley is a director and producer, known for Beyond the Edge (2013), Shackleton's Captain (2012) and The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls (2009).

(The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls) Beyond the Edge, Shackleton’s Captain

84. Ann Hui

Director | Nu ren si shi

Born in China in 1947, Ann Hui moved to Hong Kong when she was still in her youth. After graduating in English and Comparative Literature from Hong Kong University, she spent two years at the London Film School. Returning to Hong Kong, she worked as an assistant to director King Hu before joining ...

(A Simple Life)

85. Nora Twomey

Director | The Secret of Kells

Nora Twomey was born on October 31, 1971 in Cork City, Ireland. She is a producer and director, known for The Secret of Kells (2009), The Breadwinner (2017) and From Darkness (2002).

(The Secret of Kells) The Breadwinner

86. Adrienne Shelly

Actress | Waitress

The late Adrienne Shelley was born in Queens, New York, to Sheldon Levine and Elaine Langbaum. After graduating Jericho High School, located in Jericho, New York, she enrolled at Boston University, and majored in film production. After her junior year, she dropped out and moved to Manhattan where ...

(Waitress) Sudden Manhattan

87. Shari Springer Berman

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 Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's (1997). She has been married to Robert Pulcini since 1994.

(American Splendour – Special mention: Girl Most Likely) The Extra Man, Cinema Verite

88. Susie Dietter

Animation_department | Futurama

(The Simpsons (11), Futurama (6), The Critic (1))

(Girl Model)

90. Jennifer Getzinger

Director | Mad Men

Jennifer Getzinger was born on September 26, 1967 in New Haven, Connecticut, USA. She is known for her work on Mad Men (2007), Counterpart (2017) and Outlander (2014).

(Mad Men (10))

91. Lisanne Pajot

Producer | Indie Game: The Movie

Lisanne Pajot is a producer and director, known for Indie Game: The Movie (2012), Indie Game: Life After (2016) and CBC Docs POV (2017).

(Indie Game: The Movie)

(No Impact Man: The Documentary) City of Gold, Sunset Story

93. Lucy Walker

Director | The Crash Reel

Lucy Walker was born in London, England. She is a director and producer, known for The Crash Reel (2013), Waste Land (2010) and Blindsight (2006).

(Blindsight, Waste Land) Countdown to Zero, The Crash Reel, Devil’s Playground

94. Pamela Fryman

Director | Santa Barbara

Pamela Fryman is a director and producer, known for Santa Barbara (1984), How I Met Your Mother (2005) and Just Shoot Me! (1997).

(Frasier (34), Just Shoot Me! (89), Caroline in the City (1))

95. Leigh Janiak

Director | Honeymoon

Leigh Janiak is a film director and screenwriter born on February 1, 1980 in Ohio, USA. She is the daughter of Karen L. Janiak and Nestor K. Janiak of Mentor, Ohio, USA. Her feature film directorial debut was horror/mystery Honeymoon (2014) starring Rose Leslie from Game of Thrones (2011), and ...

(Honeymoon) Fear Street

96. Sherry Hormann

Director | Desert Flower

Sherry Hormann was born on April 20, 1960 in Kingston, New York, USA. She is a director and writer, known for Desert Flower (2009), Leise Schatten (1992) and Guys and Balls (2004).

(Desert Flower) 3096 Days, Guys and Balls

97. Jodie Foster

Actress | The Silence of the Lambs

Jodie Foster was born Alicia Christian Foster on November 19, 1962 in Los Angeles. She is the daughter of Evelyn Ella "Brandy" (Almond), a producer, and Lucius Fisher Foster III, an Air Force lieutenant colonel and real estate broker. Brandy had filed for divorce in 1959 after having three children...

(The Beaver) Money Monster

98. Drew Barrymore

Producer | Never Been Kissed

Since melting audiences' hearts - at the age of six - in Steven Spielberg's beloved sci-fi blockbuster, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Drew Barrymore has emerged as one of the most endearing and talented actresses of her generation.

Drew Blyth Barrymore was born in Culver City, California, to ...

(Whip It - Donnie Darko (EP))

99. Jennifer Arnold

Director | A Small Act

Jennifer Arnold is an Emmy-nominated and award-winning writer, director, and producer working in documentary and narrative formats. Her films tackle varied subjects, from non-monogamy, to poverty, to Glee fans, to sport in the Cold War and have premiered at prestigious festivals around the world, ...

(A Small Act)

100. Cherien Dabis

Producer | Amreeka

Cherien Dabis was born on November 27, 1976 in Omaha, Nebraska, USA. She is a producer and writer, known for Amreeka (2009), Empire (2015) and May in the Summer (2013).


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