Before Jim McKay jumped exclusively into directing episodes for television series (mainly The Wire and now Treme) he made a couple of my favorite women’s centric pictures in Girls Town and Our Song. Both are very naturalistic films that opt for emotionally and thematic honesty, rather than melodrama, when it comes to young women’s maturation and the issues they face. Bonus points for them actually being ethnically diverse and depicting characters that are not middle class. Even though McKay is stuck in TV Land he’s still helping producing films centered on female characters like Mosquita y Mari.
We have the lovely Ava DuVernay who posts on Mubi. She just won the best director’s feature at Sundance with her film The Middle of Nowhere which is being released in the coming months at select theaters. In 2010 she released I Will Follow which was about a woman coming to terms with the death of her aunt. There was also Dee Rees’ film Pariah that came out last year. It’s often lazily read as “just another coming out story”, but that’s almost always by (white) men who do not understand just in fact how radical it is for a Black person, ESPECIALLY A BLACK LESBIAN WOMAN, to openly explore the dynamics of sexuality. I mean it’s 2012 an they’re still asking Ain’t I a Woman?
I’ll let the other posters discuss films from around the globe (even though I do have a couple of my own examples in my pocket). Two I would like to mention are Satoshi Kon and Hayao Miyazaki. Two animation directs that consistently (Noooooooooooooooo Satoshi Kon :‘( RIP) put forth beautifully drawn (literally and figuratively) female characters of all ages. It’s interesting with all the talk of women’s pictures being unable to sell that Miyazaki constantly makes smash hits in Japan with almost exclusively featuring stories starring female characters of all ages that are beloved by males of all ages.
We can discuss more examples throughout the thread. As to answer the question that was prompted before stupidity ensued, a large reason there are far less films that directed about women is because they’re regulated to being ONLY for women (that’s not even before factoring things like race/sexuality that further other women). They are seen as specialty/niche films that do not deserve serious consideration. It doesn’t help that even when a great many men attempt to direct/write women suck at writing women because they only exist as hackneyed stereotypes rather than people. Even if they start out as people, as soon as they do something deemed uncomfortable by a male they are thrown into that stereotype. Doesn’t laugh at a joke she deems sexist? She is now a frigid humorless b****. I think Junot Diaz pretty much summed up my position in The Atlantic.
The Atlantic: It sounds like you’re saying that literary “talent” doesn’t inoculate a write—especially a male writer—from making gross, false misjudgments about gender. You’d think being a great writer would give you empathy and the ability to understand people who are unlike you—whether we’re talking about gender or another category. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Junot Diaz: I think that unless you are actively, consciously working against the gravitational pull of the culture, you will predictably, thematically, create these sort of fucked-up representations. Without fail. The only way not to do them is to admit to yourself [that] you’re fucked up, admit to yourself that you’re not good at this shit, and to be conscious in the way that you create these characters. It’s so funny what people call inspiration. I have so many young writers who’re like, “Well I was inspired. This was my story.” And I’m like, “OK. Sir, your inspiration for your stories is like every other male’s inspiration for their stories: that the female is only in there to provide sexual service.” There comes a time when this mythical inspiration is exposed for doing exactly what it’s truthfully doing: to underscore and reinforce cultural structures, or I’d say, cultural asymmetry.