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Female-directed films to look out for in 2024

Jennifer Liu / Thresher

By Arman Saxena     3/26/24 11:06pm

Female filmmakers have been innovating since the era of silent film in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However, the 1934 establishment of the Hays Code — a set of guidelines for Hollywood films from the 1930s to 1960s that censored content deemed offensive — played a major role in stifling women’s creative say in the film industry. With Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” becoming the highest-grossing film in the states and worldwide, 2023 was a landmark year for female directors in Hollywood and signifies an ever-changing landscape of female film direction. In honor of Women’s History Month, here are some new or upcoming female-directed films that represent the variety, innovation and artistic verve that women have imbued into the film canon.

“Bird,” Andrea Arnold

Andrea Arnold, the filmmaker behind the indie coming-of-age tales “Fish Tank” and “American Honey,” is back this year with “Bird,” which promises to be exciting after lead actor Barry Keoghan dropped out of “Gladiator 2” to star in Arnold’s film instead. Starring Keoghan and last year’s critics’ favorite Franz Rogowski (for his role in “Passages”), “Bird” features the highest-profile cast of Arnold’s career. While plot details remain unknown, expect a quietly powerful and deeply realistic slice of life drama — Arnold’s bread and butter.

“Flint Strong,” Rachel Morrison

Directed by Rachel Morrison, the first female director of photography to receive an Oscar nomination for best cinematography, and written by Barry Jenkins, the director of the modern classic “Moonlight,” “Flint Strong” has impressive pedigree. Morrison’s directorial debut will follow Claressa Shields, a boxer who dreams of becoming the first woman in American history to win an Olympic gold medal in the sport. Ryan Destiny stars as Shields and is joined by Brian Tyree Henry, who may receive his second Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Shields’ coach.

“Emmanuelle,” Audrey Diwan

Audrey Diwan won the Golden Lion, the top prize at the Venice Film Festival, for her last feature, the abortion drama “Happening.” Her newest film stars Noemie Merlant, of “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” fame and is based on a novel by Emmanuelle Arsan of the same name, a classic French erotica. Expect another acclaimed drama from this exciting up-and-comer.

“Polaris,” Lynne Ramsay

From bleak realist dramas like “Ratcatcher” and “Morvern Callar” to intense psychological thrillers like “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and “You Were Never Really Here,” Lynne Ramsay is a filmmaker that rises above easy categorization. Her newest project stars Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara in a tale that follows an ice photographer who encounters the devil in 1890s Alaska. 

“Nightbitch,” Marielle Heller

Having mastered the character-driven drama with “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” director Marielle Heller has now turned her sights to the horror-comedy genre. Amy Adams stars as a stay-at-home mom that sees her maternal instincts turn canine. With an exciting conceit and one of the best actresses working today in tow, Heller’s newest promises to be scary fun.

“I Saw the TV Glow,” Jane Schoenbrun

Another Sundance breakout, “I Saw the TV Glow” was one of the most buzzed-about films at this year’s festival. With distribution from A24, two-time Oscar winner Emma Stone as a producer and indie rocker Alex G on the score, this film has a lot that might pique one’s interest. With “I Saw the TV Glow” and her previous film “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair,” director Jane Schoenbrun has proved herself to be adept at meshing psychological horror with the theme of humanity’s relationship with technology.

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