Among the greatest films ever made, Chantal Akerman's nearly three-and-a-half-hour masterpiece (not a second overlong) puts a widowed housewife, stuck in a mundane life and made invisible by social order, front and center. In this searing homage to nameless mothers and homemakers everywhere (including her own), Akerman creates the cinematic equivalent of a hypnotic metronome as she meticulously presents Jeanne (Delphine Seyrig) and her checklist of tasks—cooking, cleaning, shopping, parenting and, with a shock, sex work—to make ends meet over the course of three suffocating days. Thanks to Akerman's rhythmic discipline, each of Jeanne's slightly out-of-the-ordinary acts land with a disturbing thud as they grow in number and tip the banal domestic balance, eventually driving her to cold-blooded murder. Groundbreaking in its unblinking, real-time portrayal of unglamorous house chores as a means of validating female frustration, Jeanne Dielman's feminist resonance is cemented in perpetuity.—Tomris Laffly
Slowly, year by year, the dial is moving for female filmmakers and female-led storytelling in Hollywood. The dinosaurs are being shoved out to pasture (or sent to prison), and a more diverse range of filmmakers are gradually being handed the chance to get movies made in one of the most laggard industries in town. This year’s International Woman’s Day throws the spotlight on a drive for full equality that’s been jet-powered in recent times by the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
But it’s important to remember that brilliant women have been making, writing, shooting, editing and starring in brilliant films for the past hundred years. From Daughters of the Dust to The Piano, Agnès Varda to Gurinder Chadha, and Louise Brooks to Linda Hamilton, our list of the 100 greatest feminist films celebrate them in all their glory. This century of movies over the past century weren’t all directed by women, but they’re all feminist landmarks that demand to be revisited and reappreciated.
Written by Abbey Bender, Cath Clarke, Phil de Semlyen, Tomris Laffly, Helen O'Hara, Joshua Rothkopf & Anna Smith. Produced by Hannah Streck.