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Five Must-See Summer Movies Directed by Women

Little change has come in the inclusion of women in the filmmaking industry. Conversations about off-camera inclusivity continue to happen, yet studies show that only 20% of last year’s highest-grossing films were directed, produced, and/or written by women. Though there’s a long way to go, the following female directors are steering progress behind the camera. Here are five must-see summer movies directed by women:


This biographical documentary from producer and director Rachel Lears goes behind the scenes of four 2018 congressional campaigns. Following Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilea, Cori Bush and Paula Jean Swearengin, this film showcases the strength and determination four progressive Democrats have in their efforts to spark change in American politics. It reveals the real effects of a country in need of fundamental change, and the women who strive to make that happen. Knock Down the House is a powerful demonstration of how women are making their voices heard in government. The film is currently available to stream on Netflix.


In her directorial debut, actress Olivia Wilde brings audiences along on the unpredictable journey of youth. Booksmart follows two girls who seek adventure on the night before their high school graduation. The comedy film spotlights the importance of female friendships and features a proud lesbian protagonist. As the characters grapple with confronting crushes, fitting in with classmates, and transitioning into adulthood, Wilde reminds us of the charming spontaneity that comes with growing up.


Ash Mayfair, writer and director of this Vietnamese drama, tells the story of a fourteen-year-old girl living in 19th-century Vietnam. The protagonist is forced to mature quickly and speed through self-discovery in order to achieve freedom from an arranged marriage. Mayfair was inspired by her own family history and the personal experiences of her ancestors. “The characters of this story may belong to a distant past, however, their narrative and struggles are very much present in our contemporary society,” she says. Bringing awareness to a global feminist issue and making strides for Asian-American women in film, Mayfair’s directorial debut is a must-watch.


If you love dogs, this one’s for you. Seasoned television director Gail Mancuso warms hearts with this sequel to 2017’s A Dog’s Purpose. It follows one dog through several years as he reincarnates as different breeds and encounters various owners. Although she’s directed episodes of several famous TV shows, including Modern Family, Gilmore Girls and 30 Rock, this marks her first director credit on a feature Hollywood film. Mancuso is a two-time Emmy award winner, and A Dog’s Journey demonstrates exactly why she deserves it.

THE SUN IS ALSO A STARIn this teen romance, two students fall in love while one deals with the mounting stress of her family facing deportation. Director Ry Russo-Young is known for her work on YA films, and she does not disappoint in this adaptation of Nicola Yoon’s 2016 novel. Given its relevance in today’s political and social climate, Russo-Young portrays how deeply individuals are affected when their lives are forcefully changed. The film features two non-white protagonists and simultaneously normalizes interracial relationships. Along with a fascinating love story, audiences are given a firsthand account of how the main character, like many immigrants in America, must grapple with a life-changing situation.

Featured Image by Daniel Benavides on Flickr.

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0

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