,10 films by female directors arriving in 2022


Chloe Zhao directed the Best Picture of 2020, not only earning well-deserved praise, but making history. Jane Campion directed the Best Picture of 2021 and may well follow Zhao to an Oscar for Best Director.

2022 is only a month away, so it’s far too early to tell if a female filmmaker will also lead this year’s Best Feature, but more than a few contenders have new films hitting screens. Here are Sarah Ward’s 10 stars to watch.

Receiving an Australian cinema release in 2022 following festival screenings in 2021, Little Mum is an instant contender for this year’s Best Picture. French director Céline Sciamma gets it right with this sensitive childhood story, which also reflects on mother-daughter bonds, but the director of Girlhood and Portrait of a Lady on Fire never does.

Shot with finesse and featuring revealing performances from young protagonists Joséphine and Gabrielle Sanz, Petite Maman is also, in its own way, a sci-fi drama. Sciamma follows a grieving young girl who makes a new friend in the woods outside her grandmother’s house.

It’s a film Leah Purcell was destined to make – and direct, write and star in – as part of a trio of adaptations of Henry Lawson’s 1892 short story. First, she brought The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson to the stage, reimagining the source material through an Indigenous feminist lens. Then she wrote a novel. Now, in western revenge mode, she’s bringing colonial-era history to the big screen.

Purcell plays the eponymous Molly, who is used to tending to her family and her belongings while her husband drives. But she encounters other unexpected difficulties when a stranger crosses her path.

At last year’s Sundance, Hive became the first film in history to win the Grand Jury Prize, Audience Award and Director’s Award, all in its World Cinema Dramatic competition. A worthy recipient, it also marks a hard-hitting feature debut for filmmaker Blerta Basholli, which traces the life story of Kosovar woman Fahrije Hoti.

Yllka Gashi delivers a devastating performance as Fahrije, who awaits news from her husband after the Kosovo war. But the male-dominated culture frowns on her efforts to provide for her family, especially when she decides to make ajvar, a pepper relish, and sell it with other widows.

When she jumped behind the camera with 2019’s clever and hilarious coming-of-age comedy Booksmart, Olivia Wilde made her dream directorial debut. And, therefore, his second effort Don’t Worry Darling couldn’t be more anticipated.

This time Wilde is directing a psychological thriller. She also appears on screen herself, but Florence Pugh and Harry Styles lead the series as a 1950s couple – a housewife whose world begins to crumble beneath her and a husband with a secret. It’s a dream cast, and the stacked list of talent continues with Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, KiKi Lane and Nick Kroll.

Two words are enough to sell Showing Up: Kelly Reichardt. This is always the case with each new entry in the director’s filmography, but it is particularly the case after her latest release, the sublime First Cow, which is one of the very best films of recent years.

With Showing Up, Reichardt reteams with frequent star Michelle Williams, this time to focus on an artist approaching a career-changing exhibition. When these two team up, they never disappoint, as Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff and Certain Women have already demonstrated.

In The Woman King, the always impressive Viola Davis heads to the Kingdom of Dahomey, which existed in West Africa from the 17th to the early 20th century. In a story based on real events, she plays the general of an all-female military unit – on paper, there’s no one better for the job.

Onscreen, with Beyond the Lights and The Old Guard’s Gina Prince-Bythewood in the director’s chair, we hope it goes that way, too. The historical epic also stars Thuso Mbedu of the Underground Railroad as a fellow warrior, as well as John Boyega and Lashana Lynch.

Coming soon – March 11, 2022

Turning Red is heading straight to streaming, becoming the third successive Pixar movie to bypass theaters, but it still looks like one of the animation studio’s most promising charmers. One crucial reason: filmmaker Domee Shi, who is making her feature film debut after winning an Oscar for 2018’s stunning short film Bao, which screened alongside The Incredibles 2.

Shi was the first female filmmaker to direct a Pixar short film, and along with Turning Red, she will also be the first to direct a solo feature film. Story-wise, the film riffs on a Hulk-like storyline, but with a 13-year-old teenager who turns into a red panda when excited or stressed.

The title of I Wanna Dance with Somebody says it all, with filmmaker Kasi Lemmons telling the story of Whitney Houston after her final leap into biopic territory with Harriet in 2019. The soundtrack is already set to be a pop-filled winner of the years. 80s, with the R&B icon’s songs to accompany her ups and downs from obscurity to stardom and beyond.

Small Ax star Naomi Ackie will do the on-screen dancing, while Moonlight’s Ashton Sanders will play Bobby Brown. The impressive cast continues with Tamara Tunie and Clarke Peters as Houston’s parents, and Stanley Tucci as record producer Clive Davis.

Some films roll out of bed and into production with a winning idea (and a cup of ambition): Seriously Red is one of them. Filmmaker Gracie Otto’s feature debut (documentaries The Last Impresario and Under the Volcano), this Australian romantic comedy is about a woman who decides to leave the nine-to-five routine behind to become a Dolly Parton impersonator – and ends up in a relationship with a Kenny Rogers impersonator.

In addition to writing the screenplay, Krew Boylan plays the eponymous new owner of the cascading blonde hair, while Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale also co-star.

In 2017, a story from The New Yorker went viral. Cat Person charted the relationship between Margot, a 20-year-old college student and movie clerk, and older Robert, whom she meets at work — and no one could help but talk about it.

The dating horror story struck a chord for one key reason: Everything from the dialogue to the script rang true in that specific yet always relatable way that insightful tales boast. The Spy Who Dumped Me writer/director and Booksmart screenwriter Susanna Fogel brings Cat Person to the screen, starring CODA’s Emilia Jones as Margot and Nicholas Braun, aka Succession’s Cousin Greg, as Robert.


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