Woman with a movie camera

From pre-war to the present-day women have always directed movies, and these remarkable examples by Margaret Tait, Laura Mulvey, Sally Potter and more showcase the breadth and diversity of women’s invaluable contribution to cinema.

  • The Body Beautiful

    This autobiographical narrative redefines female beauty and sexuality by reflecting on filmmaker Ngozi Onwurah's relationship with her mother. Onwurah's discovery of her sexual appeal as a young model is combined with an intimate account of her mother Madge's experience of desexualisation after h...

  • Blue Black Permanent

    Margaret Tait's tale of three generations of women in a Scottish family swirls out through a series of interlinking stories and recollections, taking place in Edinburgh and the Orkney Islands. Drawn to the sea, it appears that the grandmother and mother both drowned accidentally, and their unfold...

  • The Gold Diggers

    The ground-breaking first feature from the director of Orlando and The Tango Lesson, The Gold Diggers is a key film of early '80s feminist cinema. Made with an all-woman crew, featuring stunning photography by Babette Magolte and a score by Lindsay Cooper it embraces a radical and experimental na...

  • Riddles of the Sphinx

    Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen’s visually accomplished and intellectually rigorous Riddles of the Sphinx is one of the most important avant-garde films to have emerged from Britain during the 1970s. The second collaboration between Mulvey and Wollen, both of whom are recognised as seminal figures ...

  • Eros Erosion

    Transience and desire, and the silence and concealment surrounding sexuality, love, death, AIDS, and the fear of bereavement, are all touched upon among a rush of abstract and allegorical connections in this artist film from 1990 by Anna Thew.

  • Rapunzel Let Down Your Hair

    A private detective (Fairport Convention musician Dave Swarbrick) investigates the case of a young woman held captive by her drug-addict mother. This is just one of many witty, imaginative reframings of the Brothers Grimm fairytale in this beguiling feminist film. The wildly diverse episodes show...

  • The Song of the Shirt

    The plight of women in the 1840s London rag trade is explored and deconstructed. Informed by experimental film practice and evoking a serialised Victorian novel, this unusual film investigates the effects of protectionist ‘philanthropy' in the sweatshop-style London clothes trade using contempor...

  • White Men Are Cracking Up

    Masie Blue is an enigmatic Black Widow figure under investigation by detective Margrave for her involvement in the suicides of successful white men. Through the blurred lines of perception and reality, the myth of the black feminine mystique is explored under the guise of a murder mystery. Writte...

  • Piccadilly Circus by Night

    European emigre Tanya moves to London to work as a family au pair. Still grieving for her recently deceased father and rejected by an old girlfriend, Tanya draws closer to her employer's husband. The sights and sounds of the Capital at Christmas form a deceptively romantic backdrop for this bri...

  • Together

    Italian director Lorenza Mazzetti borrowed techniques from the neorealist school to conjure this striking study of East End life, one of the original Free Cinema shorts. Following the ambling existence of two deaf-mute dock workers, Mazzetti crafts a poetic depiction of post-war London populated ...

  • Random Acts of Intimacy

    What drives people to have sex with complete strangers? That's the subject of this bold and insightful film, based on interviews with five men and women who describe the chance encounters that led to impulsive sex. Director Clio Barnard uses performers to lip-sync their recorded confessions, merg...

  • As You Like It

    Hiding out in an industrial wasteland from the murderous wrath of a regional ruler, a woman, disguised as a boy, gives wooing lessons to the edgy lad who proclaims he loves her. This gritty, urban reimagining by Christine Edzard transposes Shakespeare's rural comedy to London's Docklands, then un...