8 up-and-coming female directors that deserve your attention

Despite the dominance of male directors in the film industry, the last few years have seen many female directors make incredible and successful films. Here is our list of eight of the best films directed by women:

Reem Kherici – Paris or perish (2013, France)

Available on VoD from 5 September as part of the Comedies à la carte collection

Paris or Perish follows the story of Maya, a young Moroccan stylist about to get the job of her dreams in a famous Paris fashion house. She is finally set to leave her working-class family background from the Moroccan suburbs, when a police check reveals that her visa has expired… She has to go back to the life she was trying to escape. Paris or Perish is a touching dramedy that reflects on reconnecting with family, tradition and stereotypes about immigration. 

Clio Barnard  – The Selfish Giant (2013, United Kingdom)

The Selfish Giant is a contemporary coming-of-age story, about two 13-year-old working-class friends, whose involvement with a local scrap dealer has tragic consequences. Clio Barnard, who was named one of Variety’s “10 Directors to Watch” in 2013, creates a spectacular and naturalistic portrait of the suburban working-class in Britain and the challenges teenagers face. With astonishing performances by Conner Chapman and Shaun Thomas, the film was selected at numerous festivals, including Cannes as part of the Director’s Fortnight.

Deniz Gamze Ergüven – Mustang (2015, France, Germany, Turkey)

Mustang premiered in the Directors' Fortnight at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and more astounding success followed: the LUX Prize and an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. Turkish-French director Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s first feature follows five orphan girls, whose conservative guardians change their lives dramatically after seeing the girls playing innocently with boys – a truly compelling story speaking to the status of some women in Turkey.

Athina Rachel Tsangari – Chevalier (2015, Greece)

Rachel Tsangari is a Greek filmmaker and projection designer who received a lot of attention after winning the Best Film Award at the 2015 London Film Festival for her feature film Chevalier, the story of six men on a fishing trip who decide to play a game, which will determine who is the strongest among them – an unforgiving tragicomic portrait of the contemporary male. 

Anca Damian – The Magic Mountain (2015, Romania, France, Poland)

The Magic Mountain is an animated biopic documentary by Romanian director Anca Damian, following the life of Adam Jacek Winkler, a Polish refugee living in Paris who goes to Afghanistan to fight against the Soviets. The film received a Special Mention in the Main Competition at Karlovy Vary. Damian was also awarded with the Council of Europe’s Eurimages Audentia Award for Best Female Director at the 2016 Istanbul Film Festival.

Eliza Petkova – Zhaleika (2016, Germany, Bulgaria)

Eliza Petkova’s debut film Zhaleika received a Special Mention in the Generation 14plus section at the 2016 Berlinale. The film tells the story of Lora, a teenage girl living in a small town in Bulgaria, where modern and traditional values collide – an emotional coming-of-age story, with compelling, detailed and naturalistic visuals.

Sonja Prosenc – The Tree (2014, Slovenia, Italy)

Sonja Prosenc is one of the most prominent young directors in Slovenia and has received considerable international recognition for her first feature, The Tree – Slovenia’s selection for the 2016 Oscars. The Tree is a gripping drama about a mother and her sons who live cloistered in their home, fearing the outside world. The film had its world premiere at Karlovy Vary IFF in 2014 and was the big winner at the Slovenian Film Festival.

Svetla Tsotsorkova – Thirst(2015, Bulgaria)

Winner of the Golden Rose for Best Cinematography and Best Debut, as well as the Crossing Europe Audience Award for Best Fiction Film, Thirst by Bulgarian director Silvia Tsotsorkova has had incredible success at international films festivals so far. The film takes a close look at a village with an inconsistent water supply, but a great thirst for love – a very convincing and picturesque first feature.

02 September 2016, by Cineuropa