As our hemisphere turns towards the sun’s sizzling rays, we invite you to turn your attention towards some very special filmmakers. Whether warming up on festival runs or bringing the heat to your computer screen, these women are out to change the world.
Their work inspires compassion, empathy, critical thinking, joy — and a willingness to look at the everyday in a slightly different way. And not only did they have the courage to share their ideas, assemble teams, secure funding (a notoriously difficult feat for women) and go for it; their resulting films are also very, very good.
1. Sindha Agha
Using bold images, British filmmaker Sindha Agha portrays the grief, confusion, and uncertainty around seldom-discussed female experiences, including endometriosis, birth control, and antenatal depression. Case in point? Her film “Body Language: Painful Sex,” which includes scenes of a cherry red jello mold being stabbed with a butter knife.
2. Sandhya Suri
Since winning Best Short Film at Toronto International Film Festival, mathematics major-turned-filmmaker Sandhya Suri’s star has been rising. Her debut short, “The Field,” tells the story of a young female farm worker in India who risks losing her job, her reputation, and possibly her life to carry out a liberating affair, addressing the conflict between cultural expectations for women and their natural desires in a way that resonates.
London lady-behind-the-lens Nadia Lee Cohen makes work that is somehow retro and futuristic at the same time, placing artists like Tyler the Creator and DRAM into wonderfully strange and sexy universes where grass afros, exposed butt cheeks, and huge teeth totally fit in. Many of her videos focus on vain and superficial cultures that value shiny hair and mannequin bodies, even if what lies below the surface is a monotone tape recording.
4. Kim Gehrig
Whether shaking their hips to funk legend Chaka Khan, winning athletic world championships, or doing anything (and everything) during their periods, Kim Gehrig’s protagonists are women on the move. Be sure to check out her Serena Williams-narrated commercial for Nike, which shows the emotional wins of Simone Biles and Ibtihaj Muhammad; equally empowering is her “Viva La Vulva” music video-commercial hybrid for Libresse, which celebrates women who bleed proudly.
Zoë Simone Yi is a Director of Photography whose skills are undeniable. While peeping “Good Medicine,” try not to drool at every gorgeous shot of otherwise mundane subjects, which may very well prompt the question, Is this even real life? Her eye is the kind that you can easily identify in other work, which makes following her future projects even more exciting.
6. Savanah Leaf
Each of Savanah Leaf’s films are racially, politically, emotionally charged considerations of grief that carry messages essential to bringing about change in our society. Take for example her latest short, “The Ayes Have It,” which is a lyrical narrative that deals with the brutal and untimely deaths of young black boys. It’s a powerful portrait capable of bruising your heart.
Luis de Filippis’ short, “For Nonna Anna” is a tender story of intimacy between a disabled older woman and her young, trans granddaughter. The film shows a slice of time when the two are at opposite ends of their lives, but still share insecurities around vulnerability, self-esteem, and self-image.
A chance encounter with two freckle-faced redheads in northern Tunisia was the inspiration behind Meryam Joobeur’s incredible short drama, “Brotherhood.” The film follows the gripping story of a son who returns home from serving as an ISIS fighter with an underage wife in tow. Betrayal, culture clash, and questions of boundaries ensue, making this short a strong testament to Joobeur’s writing and directing chops.
In Emily Ann Hoffman’s humorous and moving animation, “Nevada,” audiences follow the short journey of a couple who are totally not freaking out over an unplanned pregnancy, but rather taking the 72-hour window afforded by the Plan B pill to ponder where they are in their lives. The short is one of Hoffman’s many Staff Picks, all of which speak to her skill as a storyteller.