24 most famous and famous female film directors

For the first time in the history of the Academy in 2021, two women (Chloe Zhao and Emerald Fennell) were nominated for Best Director. For the 2022 Oscars, a director (Jeanne Campion) received a second nomination in the same category for the first time. Although women have often been overlooked in the Best Director category, there is a rich history of female cinema throughout the history of the industry, with many taking on their production by multitasking in various areas of the directing process.

To celebrate March as Women’s History Month, let’s take a look back at some of the contributions of female filmmakers and the recognition their films have received from the Academy.

One of the first directors in history was a French woman named Alice Guy Blachewho made more than 400 short films from 1896. In 1911, Lois Weber became America’s first prominent female director and was one of the most successful filmmakers – of either gender – of her time. As the Hollywood studio system grew in importance, it became more difficult for a woman to establish herself as a director, with one exception: Dorothee Arzner. She was the first woman to lead a “talkie”, during which she is credited with inventing the boom microphone. During her distinguished career, she directed Clara Bow, Catherine Hepburn and Lucille Balland was the first woman to join the Directors Guild of America.

Perhaps the best-known pioneering female director is Ida Lupino, who enjoyed a stellar career as an actress, director, screenwriter and producer during Hollywood’s Golden Age, making groundbreaking low-budget films. However, it will be years before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes a female director.

In 1977, during the 49th ceremony, the Italian filmmaker Lina Wertmuller became the first woman to receive a Best Director nomination, for ‘Seven Beauties’. Only six other women have received this honor, only one (Campion) has received it twice and only two have won it (Catherine Bigelow in 2010 and Zhao in 2021). With the exception of Bigelow, these women also received nominations for writing the screenplays for their films.

Interestingly, many female directors fill multiple roles in their movies, including producing, writing, and even acting. In fact, Campion (“The Power of the Dog”), Sian Heder (“CODA”) and Maggie Gyllenhaal (“The Lost Daughter”) received offers for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2022. Three times a woman was nominated for directing, she lost that award but won it for her writing: Campion (“The Piano “, 1994), Sophie Coppola (“Lost in Translation”, 2003) and Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”, 2021).

Visit our photo gallery featuring 24 of the most successful and celebrated female directors of all time, in chronological order (starting with the most recent and working back in time). Many have films that have been chosen by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry, recognized for their cultural and historical significance. There are many others who paved the way for today’s generation of female directors; we have chosen some of the most decorated, influential and recognizable in the history of cinema, as well as some of those who are making history today.

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