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5 Films You Should Watch To Celebrate International Women's Day 2022

Women's films are often left out of those lists you see going around of  '100 Greatest Films of All Time' or '1001 Films To See Before You Die', with only 5% of films directed by women being included in the latter. It's true that female directors have often been shut out of the film industry and struggle to get a second feature. All of the above means it's integral to preserve and commend excellent cinema created by women. To celebrate this International Women's Day, I've created a short watchlist of films directed (or co-directed) by women that I think are brilliant in terms of genre and important in terms of cultural significance.

Children of Shatila (dir. by Mai Masri, 1999)

Source: Mubi

This documentary follows the displaced Palestinian refugees occupying the Shatila camp, focusing on the children who had been affected by the massacre that occurred a decade earlier. The director gave the children cameras and allowed them to film their surroundings, introducing the audience into the world of an often silenced group of people. To watch the film is a deeply affecting experience, showing candidly the tangible reality of the Palestinians who had been (and continue to be) shut out of their native land. The preservation of art that comes from disenfranchised people is incredibly important, particularly when that marginalisation is ongoing, and in highlighting the voices of children, those who would be next generation of Palestinians, Mai Masri was able to empower her subjects into believing in Palestine's future*.

Available on Netflix UK

Humpday (dir. by Lynn Shelton, 2009)

Source: IMDb

Lynn Shelton's deeply compelling and hilarious version of mumblecore is, in my opinion, some of the best. One of my favourites is Humpday, a bizarrely sincere film about straight men who decide they are going to film themselves having sex with one another for an art project. What ensues are dissections of masculinity and its relationship heterosexuality, all which intersect at an analysis of what it means for two men to be friends with one another. I personally think that Shelton had barely gotten the chance to really shine before her death but that doesn't mean she didn't make some genuinely stunning pieces of cinema that deserve to be remembered for how funny and sensitive they continuously were.

Available on IMDB TV UK

Lucky (dir. by Natasha Kermani, 2020)

Source: Nerdist

Lucky is a severely underrated surreal horror about a woman coming to terms with a traumatic event that manifests as a man with no face breaking into her house every night to try and kill her. With her boyfriend very quickly abandoning her, she is forced to face him alone and piece together the reasons for her paranoia, in what ends up being one of the most interesting takes on the rape revenge film I've ever seen. This film doesn't seem to have landed with audiences, but I genuinely think it's incredibly creative in the way it presents the victim's journey to coming to terms with trauma, and heartbreaking in the conclusion it comes to.

Available on Shudder UK

The Other Lamb (dir. by MaƂgorzata Szumowska, 2019)

Source: Daily Dead

This is another film that doesn't seem to have landed with audiences. Slow moving and abstract at times, this film follows Selah, a member of a cult, who starts to question the legitimacy of her revered leader, The Shepherd. Tentative in its exploration of abject desire, this is a coming-of-age story set in the harshest circumstances, chipping away at the patriarchal structures of the cult presented, before ripping out its frame with its bare hands.

Available on Mubi UK

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (dir. by Nicole Newnham, James Lebrecht, 2020)

Source: Slate

Crip Camp is a documentary taking an in-depth look at the disability rights movement that occured in the US, tracing its origins back to the summer camp for disabled people created in the 1970s. It's a film that is so clearly made with disabled people in mind, deliberately avoiding the often objectifying pity porn that is common of these kinds of films. The subjects are at the forefront in telling their experiences of this important and revolutionary time in history, documenting the ways this time offered them a small amount of freedom not available to them in normative society**.

Available on Netflix UK

*If you are interested in learning more about the ongoing struggle Palestinians face, then I will provide some links regarding the history of the country as well as ways that you can help.

**If you are interested in learning more about the current fight for disability rights in the US and the UK, I will provide some links here.