We asked our viewers to name their favorite documentaries about women, and these are their responses.
Created by pov on Apr 1, 2011
Last updated: 04/25/11 at 04:36 PM
This deeply affecting and simple short shows workers cleaning out a house that has been foreclosed upon. What do the things left behind say about a family? What does an empty house say about what was once a home? In a mere five minutes, Trash-Out makes a poignant statement on a timely subject.
Filmmaker: Maria Fortiz-Morse
This new documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Errol Morris follows Joyce McKinney and her love for a man she wishes to save from a cult.
Filmmaker: Errol Morris
Following comedian Joan Rivers over the course of a year, documentarians uncover the world of a high profile entertainment icon and the harsh realities of a career in the public eye.
Filmmakers: Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg
For Neda tells the story of the woman whose death became the iconic image for the conflict in Iran after the 2009 elections. The film works to discover who Neda was and her rebellious desire for self-expression in an oppressive government regime.
Filmmaker: Antony Thomas
Jools and Linda Topp have become a success in New Zealand for their comedy routine involving hilarious characters and catchy songs. Filmmaker Leanne Pooley captures the lesbian, yodeling twins and their exuberant celebration of life.
Filmmaker: Leanne Pooley
Scottish filmmaker Amy Hardie has built a career making science documentaries that reflect her rational temperament. When she dreamed one night that her horse was dying, only to wake the next morning and find the horse dead, she dismissed the incident as a coincidence. Then she dreamed she would die at age 48 — only one year away. When Hardie does get ill, just as the dream predicted, she visits neuroscience experts and eventually a shaman. The Edge of Dreaming is an evocative, intimate chronicle of that year and a fascinating investigation into the human subconscious.
Filmmaker: Amy Hardie
Focusing on Convicted Women Against Abuse (CWAA), an inmate-initiated group in the California Institution for Women dedicated to helping incarcerated women break the silence on their own experiences with domestic abuse, Sin by Silence follows a campaign to help educate the judicial system and bring about change in the laws regarding battered women.
Filmmaker: Olivia Klaus
Hailed as the “real Devil Wears Prada” (Vanity Fair), this documentary follows the editor in chief of Vogue Anna Wintour as she works to release the notorious September Issue.
Filmmaker: R.J. Cutler
This short documentary uncovers the stories of female survivors of sexual abuse on American Indian reservations.
Filmmaker: Raquel Chapa
In May 2005, Wendy Maldonado confessed to killing her abusive husband with her eldest son. This film follows Maldonado during the few days before she begins to serve her 10-year prison sentence for the crime and her desire to create a new life for her family.
Filmmaker: Tommy Davis
The Heretics exposes the work and thoughts of a select group of women who, during the Second Wave of the Women's Movement, published ""Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics."" Now all accomplished artists, writers, architects, teachers, editors, etc., the women give testimony about being a woman in a man's world and the excitement with which they worked during the women's liberation movement.
Filmmaker: Joan Braderman
For Spaniards — and for the world — nothing has expressed their country's traditionally rigid gender roles more powerfully than the image of the male matador. So sacred was the bullfighter's masculinity to Spanish identity that a 1908 law barred women from the sport. "Ella Es el Matador" reveals the surprising history of the women who made such a law necessary and offers fascinating profiles of two female matadors currently in the arena: the acclaimed Mari Paz Vega and neophyte Eva Florencia. These women are gender pioneers by necessity. But what emerges as their truest motivation is their sheer passion — for bullfighting and the pursuit of a dream.
Filmmakers: Gemma Cubero and Celeste Carrasco
In 2005, Sister Dorothy Stang, a Catholic nun, was shot and killed in the Brazilian Amazon. This documentary follows the courtroom drama in accusing her killers and uncovering the real perpetrators as well as the life's work of this woman in the rainforests of Brazil.
Filmmaker: Daniel Junge
Nahid Persson Sarvestani was originally one of the Iranian activists who worked to overthrow the Shah of Iran and consequently send the queen into exile in 1979. However, now Sarvestani is an Iranian exile, and she meets with the Empress Farah Pahlavi, the wife of the Shah of Iran, thinking that she will challenge the late Queen's political views, only to find that she challenges her own.
Filmmaker: Nahid Persson Sarvestani
Rough Aunties follows the work of a multiracial group of women who work to protect the abused children of Durban, South Africa.
Filmmaker: Kim Longinotto
Lioness tells the story of some of the first female soldiers to fight in direct ground combat. They fought alongside Marines in some of the bloodiest battles during the Iraq War, and, now as veterans, they tell their stories and describe the psychological effects of combat from a female perspective.
Filmmakers: Meg McLagan and Daria Sommers
A young Canadian journalist travelled into India to uncover states in the country where aborting female fetuses has become a profitable industry. Because of the preference for male children, ultrasound tests and abortions have now created a situation where men cannot find wives, women are forced into marriage and prostitution has increased.
Filmmaker: Karina Marceau
Honoring the strength of the women of Liberia, Pray the Devil Back to Hell chronicles the organizing of thousands of Liberian women to protest the ongoing civil war in their country. Because of the collective efforts of these women who came from all different walks of life and communities, an agreement was made during the stalled peace talks in Liberia.
Filmmaker: Gini Reticker
This award-winning documentary follows the work of community organizer and activist Wangari Maathai, a woman who refused to be obedient to an unjust government in Kenya. Maathai organized the women of villages to start planting trees in order to protect the environment and bring resources to their communities. As the movement grew, the Kenyan leader Daniel arap Moi started to interfere with their efforts.
Filmmaker: Lisa Merton
In this delightful memoir, the award-winning French filmmaker employs all the magic of cinema to juxtapose the real and the imagined, the past and the present, pain and joy.
Filmmaker: Agnes Verda
Paul McKerrow grew up as the all-American boy. He was captain of the football team and his high school graduating class voted him most likely to succeed. Now she is known as the New York City transsexual filmmaker Kimberly Reed and she is returning home to Helena, Mont., for her high school reunion. During her trip home, she also hopes to reinvent her relationship with her resentful and estranged brother Marc. Countless revelations, twists and turns present themselves in her search for a relationship with her brother in this intriguing and honest documentary.
Filmmaker: Kimberly Reed
Telling the story of contemporary childbirth in the United States, the film exposes the way American culture has started treating childbirth as a medical emergency rather than a natural occurrence.
Filmmakers: Executive Producer Ricki Lake and Director Abby Epstein
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Pamela Tanner Boll follows five women who refuse to choose between mothering and working. Five artists follow their calls for creativity while still trying to stay afloat in a world that might not respect their decision to want something for themselves in addition to their children.
Filmmaker: Pamela Tanner Boll
How much would you sacrifice to survive? When Chicago filmmaker Joanna Rudnick tested positive for the "breast cancer gene" at age 27, she knew the information could save her life. And she knew she was not only confronting mortality at an early age, but also was going to have to make heart-wrenching decisions about the life that lay ahead of her. Should she take the irreversible preventive step of having her breasts and ovaries removed or risk developing cancer? What would happen to her romantic life, her hopes for a family? "In the Family" documents Rudnick's efforts to reach out to other women while facing her deepest fears.
This film documents the work of former prostitute turned activist Rachel Lloyd and the Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS), the organization she founded to help young girls transition from prostitution to another way of life. The film shows teenage girls who are in all stages of the difficult process.
Filmmakers: David Schisgall and Nina Alvarez
After two women lose their husbands in the Sept. 11 attacks, they turn their focus to Afghanistan, where the terrorists who took the lives of their husbands were trained. The women travel to Afghan villages and form a connection with the women there who have faced decades of war, international intervention and oppression.
Filmmaker: Beth Murphy
Chronicling the stories of two life-long friends, one of whom has Down syndrome and the other cerebral palsy, Body and Soul: Diana & Kathy works to break stereotypes about disability. Shot over five years, the documentary shows Diana as a capable personal assistant to Kathy who has become non-verbal due to her illness. The two are inspiring in their lobbying efforts for equal rights for those with disabilities.
Filmmaker: Alice Elliott
This American Experience documentary tells the story of the one of the most religiously influential women in American early 20th century history. Aimee Semple McPherson was an evangelical who brought the conservative Protestant movement to mainstream culture with her elaborate sermons to amazingly large crowds.
Filmmaker: Linda Garmon
One hundred years ago, in a time of mass migration, an industry boom and struggles for workers' rights, a devastating fire swept through the Triangle shirtwaist factory in New York City. Some of the women factory workers became heroes, but more so the women became the faces of the need for industry reform and better working conditions.
Filmmaker: Roy Campolongo
This coming-of-age story focuses on Shadya Zoabi, an Israeli Arab, feminist and karate world champion. The film follows her as she transitions from girl to woman, and then woman to wife, as she wrestles with her identity as a Muslim in Israel and a female athlete in a conservative society.
Filmmaker: Roy Westler
In Israel, 18-year-old girls, just like boys, are enlisted for compulsory military service. In this documentary, six female Israeli soldiers remember their tours of duty in the West Bank and Gaza, stripping down the perceived differences of the sexes in military service.
Filmmaker: Tamir Yarom
This award-winning documentary follows the journey of five women across the Ethiopian landscape to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. The women, who have been ostracized by their communities for their injuries caused by obstructed childbirth, make the long journey in hopes of a cure that will bring them a new life.
Filmmaker: Mary Olive Smith
Nearing completion, China's massive Three Gorges Dam is altering the landscape and the lives of people living along the fabled Yangtze River. Countless ancient villages and historic locales will be submerged, and 2,000,000 people will lose their homes and livelihoods. The Yu family desperately seeks a reprieve by sending their 16-year-old daughter to work in the cruise ship industry that has sprung up to give tourists a last glimpse of the legendary river valley. With cinematic sweep, Up the Yangtze explores lives transformed by the biggest hydroelectric dam in history, a hotly contested symbol of the Chinese economic miracle.
Filmmaker: Yung Chang
Exploring the life of bohemian painter and mother Alice Neel, this biographical documentary offers interviews with the artist's children as well as grandchildren. Family, friends and art historians all weigh in on Neel's career and life, sometimes with praise and other times with harsh criticism.
Filmmaker: Andrew Neel
Since 1998, war has been raging between foreign and domestic militias and the Congolese Army in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Thousands of women and girls have been abducted, raped, mutilated and tortured as casualties in the fighting, and they will be silent no longer.
Filmmaker: Lisa Jackson
Begging Naked follows the story of Elise Hill, a woman who ran away from home at age 15. She found herself in New York City and turned to prostitution as a way to support herself. She had one dream: to go to art school. After going through rehab, she put herself through school by selling her paintings on the street. At age 30, she turned to stripping in order to finance her art, but when Mayor Giuliani rid 42nd Street of its sex industry, she found herself homeless and living in Central Park. Begging Naked is a nine-year look at Hill, who embodies the intersections of art, mental illness, street life, abuse and identity.
Filmmaker: Karen Gehres
As one of very few twins who survived the human experiments of Dr. Mengele at the Auschwitz concentration camp, Eva Mozes Kor has only found one way to heal: forgive the perpetrators of the Holocaust which claimed the lives of her parents, relatives and childhood. However, she faces shock and retaliation from other Holocaust survivors as they worry that her forgiveness could help erase the seriousness of the tragedy.
Filmmakers: Bob Hercules and Cheri Pugh
As part of a series showcasing people who have been said to "change a century," this installment follows the life and work of respected Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa. Being a servant of the poor until her death, her selflessness and pursuit to help the downtrodden of the world became an inspiration to the world.
Filmmaker: Tom Ivy
From the director of American History X comes a documentary that sheds light on both sides of the abortion debate and its effects on contemporary America.
Filmmaker: Tony Kaye
Taking a look into the career of Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, American Blackout examines this controversial politician as well as contemporary tactics used to silence dissent and control the democratic election process.
Filmmaker: Ian Inaba
In 2003, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks uttered an anti-George W. Bush remark live at a concert and quickly threw the band into controversy. The documentary tells the story of the band during the fallout from the comment and examines the ideas of freedom of speech in relation to a public figure’s personal politics.
Filmmakers: Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck
Following three Afghan women in Kabul and refugee camps in Pakistan, View From a Grain of Sand tells the complex history of Afghan women and how international conflict, war and political Islam have all worked to strip them of their rights.
Filmmaker: Meena Nanji
China Blue tells the story of 17-year-old Chinese factory worker Jasmine, who works for pennies a day to make blue jeans. The film offers a glimpse into these girls' lives and the consequences of our own retail desires.
Filmmaker: Micha Peled
Vera Ngassa and Beatrice Ntuba, two women involved in the judicial process in Cameroon, were tired of seeing abuse cases neglected. The two help women fight their cases of abuse and work to change their country for the better.
Filmmakers: Kim Longinotto and Florence Ayisi
Into the battle over sex education steps 15-year-old Shelby Knox of Lubbock, Texas. A self-described ""good Southern Baptist girl,"" Knox has pledged abstinence until marriage. When she finds that Lubbock has some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in the state, and her county's high schools teach abstinence as the only safe sex, she becomes an unlikely advocate for comprehensive sex education, profoundly changing her political and spiritual views along the way.
Filmmakers: Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt
"The Jews killed Jesus." This statement became a common description for the Jews in the Catholic Church, which opened a door for accepted anti-Semitism among followers of the religion. Sister Rose's Passion follows and celebrates the work of a Dominican nun who dedicated herself to eradicating anti-Semitism in her religion.
Filmmaker: Oren Jacoby
This Academy-Award winner tells the story of children born into Kolkata's red light district. Filmmaker Zana Briski gives each child a camera and they begin to document their experience through their own eyes.
Filmmakers: Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski
In 1991, 75-year-old Florence Holway was attacked and raped in her New England home. After surviving the attack, Holway vowed that she would never let her attacker, John LaForest, do the same thing to another woman ever again.
Filmmaker: Jeffrey Chapman
This installment of a larger work about Native American athletes tells the story of Canadian water polo player Waneek Horn-Miller and her identity as an athlete as well as a Mohawk.
Filmmaker: Annie Frazier Henry
In 1968, Shirley Chisholm becomes the first black woman elected to Congress. In 1972, she becomes the first black woman to run for president. Shunned by the political establishment, she's supported by a motley crew of blacks, feminists and young voters. Their campaign-trail adventures are frenzied, fierce and fundamentally right on!
Filmmaker: Shola Lynch