Female documentary directors

When Laura Poitras picked up the Oscar for best documentary at last month’s ceremony it marked the first win by a female director in the category since Freida Lee Mock in 1994. We take a look at just some of the female documentary filmmakers producing engaging and inspiring work in the field today.

Kim Longinotto:


Released in cinemas on March 6th, Kim Longinotto’s Dreamcatcheris an exploration into the cycle of neglect, violence and exploitation which each year pushes thousands of girls and women into prostitution and the individuals who strive to help them. Described as ‘incredible and urgent’ by Sight and Sound and ‘intensely moving’ by Variety, Dreamcatcher picked up the prize for World Cinema - Documentary at Sundance 2015 alongside being nominated for the Grand Jury Prize in the same category. Kim has been directing documentaries since 1982 and her focus is often centered on the largely undocumented violence and abuse women in certain cultures face. She combines extraordinary scenes with intimate details and creates powerful stories that demand to be watched. Most recently Kim also created the spell binding archival journey that is Love Is All; an exploration of love and courtship on screen.

Carol Morley:


Carol Morley burst onto the documentary scene in 2011 with the intriguing and unforgettably bold Dreams of a Life; a portrayal of Joyce Vincent, whose body was discovered in a bedsit in North London 3 years after she died. Morley asked the question few of us are brave enough to ask ourselves - Would anyone miss me?- and gave Joyce’s story a new life with care, compassion and an inventive and compelling way of storytelling. Although her breakthrough came in 2011, Morley first began reconstructing untold stories in 2000 with her 50 minute film The Alcohol Years, a more personal examination of Morley’s psyche and the culture of Eighties Manchester. Since turning the camera away from herself the filmmaker continues to delve into human stories at their most fascinatingly mysterious.

Laura Poitras:


In 2003 Laura Poitras was awarded, amongst others, a prestigious Peabody award for her debut documentary Flag Wars in which the conflicts that arise when gay white professionals move into a black working-class neighborhood are examined. Filmed over four years in Columbus, Ohio, Flag Wars leads viewers on an eye-opening journey into a divided community. Poitras followed this with the Oscar-nominated My Country, My Country - a remarkably intimate portrait of Iraqis living under U.S. occupation - described as ‘extraordinary’ and full of ‘stunning moments’ by critics. Her devoted passion to putting global issues under a microscope was next seen in 2010’s The Oath, a riveting portrait of a set of circumstances that sparks a deeper discuss about one country’s collective behaviour. The director’s next move would see her take on one of the most historically impactful issues on privacy the USA has ever encountered. Extraordinary revelations are just the beginning at Poitras uncovers the man behind the NSA whistleblowing scandal and in doing so collects the first Oscar for a female documentary director in twenty years.

Camilla Nielsson:


We are excited to be releasing her debut documentary later this year, Camilla Nielsson is a director with anthropology at the heart of her stories. Following one of Africa’s bloodiest elections, Democrats sees two political enemies are appointed to write a new democratic constitution for Zimbabwe. It is the ultimate test that could bring an end to President Mugabe's more than 30 years of autocratic rule. It can go either way: towards the birth of a constitutional democracy -- or renewed repression. With unparalleled access to the country’s politics, Nielsson has produced an entertaining and revealing picture of two politicians’ humanity, complexity and personal battles.

At Dogwoof we are proud to have worked with many fantastic female directors, here are the Dogwoof Female directors:

Lauren Greenfield - The Queen of Versailles
Stephanie Spray (with Pacho Velez) - Manakamana
Gracie Otto - The Last Impresario
Sini Anderson - The Punk Singer
Lina Plioplyte - Advanced Style
Madeleine Sackler - Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus
Verena Paravel (with Lucien Castaing Taylor) - Leviathan
Beeban Kidron - InRealLife
Gabriela Cowperthwaite - Blackfish
Sarah Gavron (with David Katznelson) - Village at the End of the World
Katherine Fairfax Wright & Malika Zouhali-Worrall - Call Me Kuchu
Cindy Meehl - Buck
Constance Marks Being Elmo
Katie Galloway & Kelly Duane de la Vega - Better This World
Ashley Sabin (with David Redmon) - Girl Model
Alma Har'el - Bombay Beach
Jeanie Finlay - Sound it Out
Liz Garbus - Bobby Fisher Against the World
Emily James - Just Do It
Germaine Ying Gee Wong (with Mila Aung-Thwin) - Up TheYangtze
Carmen Garcia (with German Gutierrez) - The Coca Cola Case
Lucy Walker - Countdown to Zero
Cherien Dabis - Amreeka
Ilisa Barbash (with Lucien Castaing Taylor) - Sweetgrass
Jennifer Arnold - A Small Act
Gini Reticker - Pray the Devil Back to Hell
Ricki Stern & Anne Sundberg - Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
Mai Iskander - Garbage Dreams
Juila Bacha - Budrus
Laura Gabbert (with Justin Schein) - No Impact Man
Judith Ehrlich (with Rick Goldsmith) - The Most Dangerous Man in America
Shannon Walsh - H2Oil
Claudia Llosa - MadeinUSA / The Milk of Sorrow
Leslie Iwerks - Dirty Oil
Lucy Bailey (with Andrew Thompson) - Mugabe and the White African
Ondi Timoner - We Live in Public
Maryam Henein (with George Langworthy) - Vanishing of the Bees
Franny Armstrong - The Age of Stupid
Doris Dörrie - Cherry Blossoms / How to Cook Your Life
Havana Marking - Afghan Star
Laura Mana - Killing Words, Compassionate Sex, To Die in San Hilario
Annie Sundberg & Ricki Stein - The End of America, The Devil Came on Horseback
Susan Buice - Four Eyed Monsters
Alison Murray - Mouth to Mouth
Alanté Kavaïté - Ecoute Le Temps
Emily Atef - Molly's Way
Alicia Scherson - Play
Jasmila Zbanic - Esma's Secret
Sabina Guzzanti - Viva Zapatero
Rachel Libert (with Tony Hardmon) - Semper Fi: Always Faithful
Lise Birk Pedersen - Putin's Kiss