During the Cannes Festival earlier this year, once again film critics were wondering why so few female directors were partaking. It was sad but true though; Naomi Kawase and Alice Rohrwachter were the only women whose films got selected. How come? It would be blunt to blame it exclusively on the chauvinist French. Besides, there was a small breakthrough: New Zealands’ grand old lady of cinema Jane Campion had the honor of being the first woman presiding the Festival Jury. Thank God this overall lack of female presence in cinema wasn’t entirely ignored.
So film is dominated by men. Despite the efforts of 1970’s feminist film theorists, it’s still mainly men behind the camera. It would be interesting to take a look at film schools. How many girls actually enroll annually? That should give us an idea of what to expect in the future. Of course there have always been talented women (well, for a long time now) directing films. In recent times, female directors like Sofia Coppola, Kathryn Bigelow (first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director!), Claire Denis, Kelly Reichardt and Naomi Kawase received much critical acclaim.
This list focusses on todays’ promising young female directors. Some of them just directed promising debuts, others are already somewhat established. Now the word young is, especially in the arts, a relative notion, so I sticked to directors born in the eighties.
Céline Scamma (France, 1980)
Most notable work: Bande des Filles (2014)
Céline Sciamma rose to modest fame after her well received minimalist coming of age drama Naissance des Pieuvres (Water Lilies) in 2007. In her films, she focusses on the growing pains of young girls dealing with gender/sexuality issues. Sciamma usually works with non-professional actors and is clearly a gifted acting coach as she pushes her young protagonists to great heights. Bande des Filles (Girlhood) is the culmination of her work so far; a sensitive portrait of a young immigrant Parisienne struggling for acceptance in the harsh world of the banlieues.