Each year the organisation Women in Film (womeninfilm.org) encourage people to pledge to watch one film per week by a woman for a year. Fifty-two films by women in a year. In 2017 I took the pledge.

Some context: I teach at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School and roughly half of my students are female. However, the statistics about the gender breakdown of the industry that they are heading into are pretty damning. In November 2015, Screen Australia published a report called Gender Matters: Woman in the Australian Screen Industry which presented the results of their research into the representation of women in key roles in the Australian film and television industry and their strategy to address it. While roughly 50% of film school graduates are women, Screen Australia’s findings showed that when it comes to applications for early career ‘Talent Escalator Programs’ the divide between male and female in key creative roles (director, writer, producer, executive producer) has expanded to 60-40. When you look at the more general funding applications, open to more experienced practitioners, that gap stretches out to roughly 80-20. These numbers are not pretty, but they are also not unusual globally. It is clear that while women are just as likely as men to set out for a career in the film industry, there are barriers to them being able to establish one.

It is easy to look at stats like that, be outraged or demoralised, hope that they get better, and then go about your business. After all, what can you actually do about it? Well one little thing you can do is to actually be intentional about seeking out, supporting and consuming female-made art (film is, after all, a business and the more tickets that get sold to films by women the more likely the studios are to back them). That is what the #52FilmsByWomen pledge is all about. But it is also about expanding your horizons as a movie-lover. While mainstream cinema might operate on the assumption that the male perspective of the world is universal, it isn’t. I found that watching more films by women this year opened me up to different viewpoints and different ways of storytelling.

Throughout the year of #52FilmsByWomen I have watched features, shorts and documentaries. I have watched new films and old films. I have watched films about women and films about men. I have watched films out of Hollywood, Australia, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. I have watched dramas, comedies, westerns, horror films, musicals, superhero movies, science-fiction films. Whatever type of movies you like, you can find female-made versions of them. Of course not every one of the 52 was a winner, but men make crappy movies too. While it took a conscious effort to look up titles and directors (though womeninfilm.org have a few lists to help get you started), I’ve ended up with a list just as long of films I still want to see.

So if you’re a movie lover who wants to see a more equatable screen industry I encourage you to jump onto womeninfilm.org and make the #52FilmsByWomen pledge for 2018. Maybe you don’t watch that many movies (I realise not everyone watches as many movies as I do). Perhaps you’re better served by one a month rather than one a week? Or maybe you can just look up a list of great films by women and work your way through them?

If you’re interested, here is the complete list of 52 films by women I watched this year (highlights in bold). A couple I had seen before. Most I hadn’t.

  1. The Intern (Nancy Meyers, 2015)
  2. Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud, 2007)
  3. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Ana Lily Amirpour, 2014)
  4. My Brilliant Career (Gillian Armstrong, 1979)
  5. Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010)
  6. The Kid Stays in the Picture (Nanette Burstein & Brett Morgan, 2002)
  7. 52 Tuesdays (Sophie Hyde, 2013)
  8. But I’m a Cheerleader (Jamie Babbit, 1999)
  9. Waitress (Adrienne Shelly, 2007)
  10. The Roof Needs Mowing (Gillian Armstrong, 1971)
  11. Mabel’s Strange Predicament (Mabel Normand, 1914)
  12. Desperately Seeking Susan (Susan Seidelman, 1985)
  13. Gas Food Lodging (Allison Anders, 1992)
  14. Across the Universe (Julie Taylor, 2007)
  15. Jennifer’s Body (Karyn Kasuma, 2009)
  16. Love Serenade (Shirley Barrett, 1996)
  17. Children of a Lesser God (Randa Haines, 1986)
  18. Pitch Perfect 2 (Elizabeth Banks, 2015)
  19. Bend it Like Beckham (Gurinder Chadha, 2002)
  20. Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins, 2017)
  21. The Party (Sally Potter, 2017)
  22. Pop Aye (Kirsten Tan, 2017)
  23. The Bling Ring (Sofia Coppola, 2013)
  24. Rough Night (Lucia Aniello, 2017)
  25. A League of Their Own (Penny Marshall, 1992)
  26. Lemonade (Beyonce Knowles Carter & Kahlil Joseph, 2016) 
  27. Little Women (Gillian Armstrong, 1994)
  28. The Gleaners & I (Agnes Varda, 2000)
  29. 13th (Ava DuVernay, 2016)
  30. An Exercise in Discipline: Peel (Jane Campion, 1983)
  31. A Girl’s Own Story (Jane Campion, 1983)
  32. Holy Smoke (Jane Campion, 1999)
  33. Orlando (Sally Potter, 1992)
  34. Deep Impact (Mimi Ledger, 1998)
  35. Strange Days (Kathryn Bigelow, 1995)
  36. Whale Rider (Niki Caro, 2002)
  37. You’ve Got Mail (Nora Ephron, 1998)
  38. Casting JonBenet (Kitty Green, 2017)
  39. Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley, 2012)
  40. Forbidden Lie$ (Anna Broinowski, 2007)
  41. The Triumph of the Will (Leni Riefenstahl, 1935)
  42. The Beguiled (Sofia Coppola, 2017)
  43. The To Do List (Maggie Carey, 2013)
  44. Detroit (Kathryn Bigelow, 2017)
  45. The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (Sophie Fiennes, 2006)
  46. American Honey (Andrea Arnold, 2016)
  47. Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy (Tracy Moffat, 1990)
  48. Monsoon Wedding (Mira Nair, 2001)
  49. We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsey, 2011)
  50. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
  51. Jasper Jones (Rachel Perkins, 2017)
  52. The Holiday (Nancy Meyers, 2006)

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