5 Inspiring Female Directors

Editor's Note: This story appeared in the December 2015 ORANGE Issue IV. 

As Hollywood has focused increasingly on gender and racial diversity, several female directors have managed to break into a heavily male-dominated profession. If you’ve had your fill of Spielberg and Cameron, take a look at these five women who are making great movies and busting down barriers.

Story by Mary Dolan
Illustrations by Dani Muñoz

Elizabeth Banks

Banks is primarily known as an actress (“The Hunger Games,” “Pitch Perfect”) , but she caught Hollywood’s eye earlier this year by directing the well-received “Pitch Perfect 2.” Banks is already lined up to direct “Pitch Perfect 3,” and has two other movies in the works. Although Banks tends to play ditzy, quirky characters, she has shown that she (and other female directors) should not be dismissed.

Movie to watch: “Pitch Perfect 2”





Kathryn Bigelow

Bigelow had a fairly standard filmography until 2008, when she directed the Best Picture Oscar-winning “The Hurt Locker.” In the process, she became the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director (and beat her ex-husband James Cameron to the win). Since then, she has directed the Oscar-nominated “Zero Dark Thirty” and become an icon for women hoping to get a shot at the director’s chair.

Movie to watch: “The Hurt Locker”





Sofia Coppola

Coppola is the daughter of acclaimed director Francis Ford Coppola, and for a while, she was mostly known for her heavily-criticized performance in his film “The Godfather Part III.” However, after directing the film “The Virgin Suicides” in 1999, she quickly became a director to watch. She received an Oscar nomination for Best Director for her 2004 film “Lost in Translation,” and she worked with “Lost in Translation” star Bill Murray on his upcoming special “A Very Murray Christmas.”

Movie to watch: “Lost in Translation”




Ava DuVernay

DuVernay followed a similar path as Bigelow. After directing mostly smaller films and TV shows, her profile suddenly received a boost after directing 2014’s Best Picture nominee “Selma.” Unfortunately, DuVernay failed to receive a nomination for Best Director, which some perceived as an unjust snub on the Academy’s part. Had she received a nomination, she would have been the first woman of color to be nominated for the honor. However, DuVernay has other projects in the works and will more than likely get a second chance — and inspire other women of color to do the same.

Movie to watch: “Selma”



Patty Jenkins

Since making a critically-acclaimed splash with her third directing effort “Monster” in 2003, Jenkins has stayed quiet and directed mostly TV episodes. However, she has been tapped to direct the 2017 big screen adaptation of “Wonder Woman,” which will focus on the title character after she makes her debut in this year’s “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Helming such an anticipated and woman-centric film will certainly boost Jenkins’s already enviable profile, as she will be the first woman to direct a DC Comics film.

Movie to watch: “Monster”