Femficātiō is counting down the Top 101 Feminist films all women (and men) must see. In our view, these films best reflect the landscape of women’s identity, experience and place in the world today.
We will be giving you 10 a day every day until we reach number one!
Here we go…!
81. Changeling, 2008
Drama Directed by Clint Eastwood and Written by J. Michael Straczynski
This is a chilling film based on true accounts of Christine Collins, a single mother in the 1920s who discovers that her son is missing. A hard working devoted mother, she is hysterical, depressed and relentless in attempts to get the lackadaisical LAPD to do their job. After arguing with the police chief, they inform her they’ve found her 9 year old son – only to have it be another boy who has been coerced into pretending to be her son. When she confronts the LAPD with this obvious and disturbing charade, she is placed in a mental institution, where they make threats against her life. The sexist notion that women just need “anything” to love and not that mothers bond with their children, as well as the way women were routinely branded insane, are all aptly portrayed within this film.
80. Un Natural Causes, 1986
Drama Directed by Lamont Johnson and Written by John Sayles and Stephen Doran
Another film based on a true story. Maude DeVictor (played by Alfre Woodard) takes on US military bureaucracy to seek compensation for a Vietnam veteran exposed to the defoliant chemical Agent Orange. Maude risked reputation, livelihood, and at some points her life even seemed in jeopardy as she fought for restitution for young men who had served their country. Great film acknowledging a Black working-class woman crusader for justice.
79. Fish Tank, 2009
Drama Written and Directed by Andrea Arnold
This story of a 15 year old girl named Mia (portrayed by Katie Jarvis) growing up in an East London council estate is reflective of how most poor young women come of age today. Mia is a loner and aspiring dancer – her mother is distant and man-obsessed – and there is a non-existent community to nurture her talents or even ask about her interests. When her mother’s boyfriend seduces her, Mia has a mini-nervous breakdown, but realises for the first time in her life her frustration with her mum is ill-directed – Mia is actually stronger. This BAFTA award winning film is a must see.
78. Deep in My Heart, 1999
Drama Directed by Anita W Addison and Written by Ronni Kern
A married white Catholic woman is raped by a Black man in the 1960s walking home alone one evening, which results in pregnancy. She gives the child who is Black, to a local “Negro” foster mother. But she continues to love her daughter through involvement with Civil Rights, hoping the world will become a better place for her daughter she had to give away. The child named Barbara grows up a happy child with Lynn Whitfield, the foster mother, only to be adopted away at the age of 7 to a white couple who couldn’t have children. Barbara retreats into herself because of the shock, and the new mother’s husband becomes intolerant of the changes to their life because of Barbara, and leaves. This forces Barbara’s adoptive mother to go to work, and she works hard to try to kindle a relationship with her daughter while battling the demands of becoming a single mother. This tale of three women’s love for one girl child is a poignant story of the sacrifice and strength of motherhood.
77. Ruby in Paradise, 1993
Drama Written and Directed by Victor Nunez
This homage to Jane Austen‘s Northanger, is about a quiet young woman creating a new life and identity in Florida. The relationship she forms with her independent business-woman employer shows great cross-generational friendships amongst women – as well as a best girlfriend who is Black. This is a subtle, introspective film, and a latent coming of age story that all twenty-somethings and any women who were ever twenty-somethings should watch.
76. Claudine, 1974
Comedy Directed by John Berry, Written by Lester Pine and Tina Prine
This lighthearted American comedic drama produced by Third World Films was a cinematic and cultural feat, as it was a film that took place in 1970’s African America, but wasn’t a blaxploitation film. It follows a single mother of 6 children, Claudine Price (played by Diahann Carroll) who lives in Harlem, works as a maid and has to dodge the welfare/benefits system, because if she’s caught working or accepting gifts she will lose aid. She meets a man at work Rupert “Roop” Marshall”, played by James Earl Jones. But the relationship seems doomed from the onset, due to the complicated nature of Aid For Dependent Families and Children (AFDC); her eldest son’s skepticism of yet another man showing interest in his mother; and the fact that Claudine and Roop have limited income, seem to create endless tiny dramas throughout. It was difficult at many junctures for Claudine to see how it was worth it to even be in a relationship. This film shows an independent, well-balanced Black woman who knew the obstacles she faced and didn’t stand idly by waiting for statistics to dictate her survival or her children’s survival in such untenable circumstances.
75. Educating Rita, 1983
Comedy Drama Directed by Lewis Gilbert and Written by Willy Russell
Rita (Julie Walters) is a married 26 year old Liverpudian hairdresser with a love of Rita Mae Brown and the incredulous idea she was put on earth for better things. Frank (Michael Caine) is an aging alcoholic professor whose lectures are an exercise in how long he can stay awake to care. Though Rita’s husband doesn’t like it and her family doesn’t understand it, she enrolls in Open University and educates herself – and Frank in the process. This young woman – who felt very old, despite her youth – battles to keep going to school despite her husband’s demand for children and her class insecurities. Under-rated feminist film.
74. (Les Saignantes) The Bloodiest or Bleeders, 2005
Cross-genre Thriller, Written and Directed by Jean-Pierre Bekolo
French with English subtitles
A kickass sci-fi, experimental, post-modern, genre-bending, sexually graphic, satiristic film set in 2025. Dorylia Calmel and Adèle Ado are two beautiful and sexy young women destroying the corrupt social elite one lay at a time. It begs the question – why haven’t women done this already?
73. For Their Own Good, 1993
Drama, Directed by Ed Kaplan and Written by Ed Kaplan and Clifford Campion
This shocking true story of a aluminum plant that discovers their chemical is a teratogen (a substance causing developmental abnormalities to fetuses). In order to prevent future litigation, the plant offers sterilisation of their women employees. The thing is – its mandatory sterilisation for an impoverished community in rural Texas. Women have to choose between having a job and having children. The women choose their jobs, and when their entire division is terminated, made redundant, the women go on a quest not only to seek justice for themselves but all working women’s fertility rights.
72. Carmen Jones, 1954
Musical Directed by Otto Preminger and Written by Harry Kleiner based on a libretto by Oscar Hammerstein II
This iconic musical was inspired by the adaptation of the 1945 novella “Carmen” by Henri Meilhae and Ludovic Halevy. Carmen was the nouveau term “fierce” living life on her own terms. This film about a beautifully self-possessed Black working woman who defies convention during the second world war, is a culture defining film with Dorothy Dandridge as our heroine.