It seems a particularly important time to be celebrating Black History Month in America. I don’t have to tell you why (please, don’t make me tell you why). In doing that this year, I decided to shift the focus away from icons of the past (though you’ll see the mark of history in every work within this post) and shine a lens on the black filmmakers working right now.
Who are the black filmmakers currently working in our film industry?
Some are studio directors. Others independent writer/directors. Interestingly, many are working with and employing each other. All are doing not just good work, but great work. And despite the general notion that black stories do not attract audiences or the money that comes with them, many (if not most) of those on this list prove that myth absolutely false.
This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a start. Rather embarrassingly, I haven’t watched every film on this list (or even the majority). Like you, and almost everyone else, I watch what is most easily accessible. That’s usually whatever my local Regal is playing on cheap Tuesday, or whatever Netflix suggests I might like next. It’s also usually something by a well-known, white male director – because that’s what’s marketed to us. That’s a shame.
But it’s okay. Because we can change it. If there’s anything helpful I can do as a white American, it’s actually watch the work of black filmmakers working in this country. So, perhaps we can start together. Maybe we can forego our Netflix suggestions and search for one of these titles; maybe the algorithm will eventually pick up on it; maybe it’ll actually change what we’re regularly watching.
10 Black Filmmakers Whose Work You Can Watch NOW
What follows is a list of directors, a short biography, and the project they’re currently working on. A list of films by each filmmaker that you should start with. Finally, a trailer to help you pick something to watch tonight.
Another month has passed, Fall is officially in full swing, and you know what time it is – time for October new releases!
It feels like just yesterday (it was only a couple of weeks ago) that I was hammering out TWO separate lists to cover September’s offerings in film and television. This month is a little less crazy, but no less full in terms of offerings from female creators.
This month is so loaded with new work from women writers and directors, in fact, that I’ve been forced to split September new releases into TWO posts: one for film and one for television.
That’s Bad-Ass. And unprecedented for this list.
Much of this has to do with the Fall TV schedule – you’ll see when the special Fall television edition goes up tomorrow. But this shouldn’t discount the TEN films coming out this month that are the product of women filmmakers.
Is that enough? Not in my opinion. Is it an improvement over the somewhat desolate summer months? Hell yes.
When I think August, I think END OF SUMMER. That’s a frightening thought. So let’s think AUGUST NEW RELEASES instead, shall we?
What’s The Women to Watch List?
I started this project all the way back in May. Three months later and I’m both surprised and not surprised. Surprised, because there are SO MANY movies and television shows I would not have thought to watch (or even known were premiering), that are the product of women in the film industry. Not surprised, because (as you’ll see with these August new releases) there just aren’t enough.
I premiered this monthly series back in May as a means to an end. An end to not knowing how few feature films are written and directed by women each year; to missing some of the best female created series on television; to just not knowing what the hell to watch.
Why not get all the work in one place and help support these women filmmakers, writers, and show-runners?
And so here we are. June’s list was heavy on the television. July is nicely balanced, with more to offer on the theatrical front. I’m very pleased to see two major studio productions (Absolutely Fabulous and Ghostbusters) with huge female influences.
A systemic, deep-set, unacceptable, not-so-small problem. Women filmmakers – where are they? Do they exist? Are they all on some secret retreat writing, planning, getting ready to release their work into the world on a historic day called THE DAY WOMEN FINALLY TAKE OVER THE WORLD?
Probably not (but I’ve still got my fingers crossed).
I read some sad statistics earlier in the week that unfortunately only fueled my frustration.
Out of every big studio film released in Hollywood in 2015, only 9% were directed by women filmmakers.
9%! 9. fucking. percent.
Independent film doesn’t fare much better considering it has “independent,” and therefore the illusion of freedom in the title – documentary filmmakers are 35% female, and only 19% working on narrative film (stats from Number of Women Indie Filmmakers Stagnant – by Brent Lang, Variety).
This was my first question when The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Director Roundtable appeared on my Devour feed this week. Women directors in Hollywood exist, do they not? Many worked brilliantly last year, didn’t they? Their absence, probably because I am a woman, was glaring from just the screenshot – six men. Six men this industry periodical deems “the directors behind the year’s most acclaimed films.” The directors at this roundtable are as follows:
Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful 8)
David O’Russell (Joy)
Danny Boyle (Steve Jobs)
Tom Hooper (The Danish Girl)
Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu (The Revenant)
Ridley Scott (The Martian)
Then there’s my second question. Besides Iñarritu (hailing from Mexico),