In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’ve compiled a list of some of the amazing women behind the lens (directors, editors, DPs, costume designers, and more!) who have brought their brilliance to the film, advertising, and television industries throughout history. From pioneers of yesteryear to contemporary innovators who are changing today’s game, these female filmmakers are just the tip of the iceberg.


  • A.V. Rockwell – an award-winning screenwriter and director whose debut feature film “A Thousand and One,” premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and received the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize.
  • Alice Guy-Blaché – a pioneering filmmaker often credited as the first female director in cinema history. From 1896 to 1906, she was probably the only female filmmaker in the world!
  • Agnes Varda – a Belgian-born French director, screenwriter, and photographer, known for her work on “Cleo from 5 to 7,” “Vagabond,” and “The Beaches of Agnes.” Her work was central to the development of French New Wave filmmaking.
  • Ana Lily Amirpour – an Iranian-American director and screenwriter, known for her work on “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” (self-described as “the first Iranian vampire spaghetti western”) and “The Bad Batch.”
  • Autumn Durald Arkapaw – a cinematographer known for her work on “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” “The Sun Is Also A Star,” and “Palo Alto.”
  • Barbara Kopple – a documentary filmmaker known for works like “Harlan County U.S.A.” and “American Dream.” She is the first woman to have won twice in the Oscar’s Best Documentary category.
  • Barbara Hammer – a feminist filmmaker who was known for her work in queer, experimental and avant-garde cinema. Over the course of her 50-year career, she pioneered the lesbian film genre.
  • Chloé Zhao – a Chinese filmmaker known for her work on films like “Nomadland” and “The Rider.” She is the first woman of color to ever be awarded Best Picture and Best Director at the Academy Awards (for “Nomadland” in 2020)
  • Cheryl Dunye – a filmmaker known for her work on films like “The Watermelon Woman” and “Stranger Inside.” Dunye is regarded as the first out black lesbian to ever direct a feature film.
  • Cristina Gallego – director and producer known for her work on the films “Birds of Passage”, which was Colombia’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2019 Academy Awards, and “Embrace of the Serpent.”
  • Colleen Atwood – an American costume designer known for her collaborations with Tim Burton and her work on “Chicago,” “Memoirs of a Geisha,” and “Alice in Wonderland”. She has been nominated for 12 Oscars for Best Costume Design, and won 4.
  • Dee Rees – a filmmaker known for her work on films like “Mudbound” and “Pariah.” Rees was the first Black woman ever to be nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for “Mudbound” in 2018.
  • Desiree Akhavan – an Iranian-American filmmaker known for her films “Appropriate Behavior” and “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” which won the 2018 Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. Akhavan is an outspoken voice for LGBTQIA+ advocacy, centering queer female experience in much of her work.
  • Dorothy Arzner – a filmmaker and one of the few female filmmakers (and one of even fewer lesbian directors) working in Hollywood in the 1930s.
  • Effie T. Brown – a producer and advocate for diversity in the film industry, known for her work on films like “Real Women Have Curves” and “Dear White People.”
  • Euzhan Palcy – a filmmaker known for her films like “Sugar Cane Alley,” which won a César Award and the Venice Film Festival’s Silver Lion (making her the first Black director to ever win either award). With her film “A Dry White Season,” she became the first Black female director to have a film produced by a major Hollywood studio (MGM).
  • Emiko Omori – a Japanese-American documentary filmmaker and cinematographer (one of the first camerawomen to work in news documentaries). Omori is known for her 1999 Sundance award-winning film “Rabbit in the Moon” which explores the experience of Japanese Americans interned during World War II.
  • Floria Sigismondi – an Italian-Canadian filmmaker known for her distinctive aesthetic. Her work spans music videos for artists like David Bowie and Marilyn Manson, commercial projects, episodic work (“The Handmaid’s Tale,” “American Gods,”) and feature films “The Runaways” and “The Turning”.
  • Fawn Veerasunthorn – a Story Artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios who has worked on films like “Frozen,” “Moana,” and “Zootopia,” and served as Head of Story on “Raya and the Last Dragon.”
  • Frances Marion – Screenwriter and director who was the first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. One of the most renowned female screenwriters of the 20th century, she was also the first writer to win two Academy Awards.


  • Gina Prince-Bythewood – a director and writer known for her work on films like “Love & Basketball.” She became the first black woman to direct a major comic-book film in 2020.
  • Gurinder Chadha – a British director of Indian origin who has directed films such as “Bend It Like Beckham,” and “Blinded By The Light.”
  • Gloria Calderón Kellett – a Cuban-American executive producer, showrunner, writer, producer known for “One Day at a Time,” and “With Love.”
  • Haifaa al-Mansour – a Saudi Arabian director who became the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia with her feature film debut “Wadjda,” (the country’s first-ever submission of a film for the Best Foreign Language Oscar).
  • Hannah Beachler – production designer who worked on “Moonlight,” “Creed,” and “Black Panther.” For her work on “Black Panther,” she became the first African American to be nominated for (and to win) an Academy Award in the Best Production Design category.
  • Hannah Lux Davis – a music video and commercial director whose star-studded resume includes videos for artists such as Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj and Demi Lovato.
  • Irene Sharaff – universally recognized as one of the greatest costume designers of all time, Sharaff was an American costume designer who won five Academy Awards for her work in films such as “An American in Paris,” “Funny Girl,” and “West Side Story.”
  • Isabel Sandoval – a Filipino-American director and actress who directed the film “Lingua Franca.” She explores themes of identity, migration, and gender in her films. With “Lingua Franca,” Sandoval became the first out trans woman of color to compete at the Venice Film Festival.
  • Issa López – a Mexican filmmaker known for her horror and fantasy films, including 2017’s “Tigers Are Not Afraid,” that explore themes of violence, loss, and childhood trauma.
  • Issa Rae – an American actress, writer, and producer who is best known as co-creator, co-writer, and star of the hit HBO series “Insecure.”
  • Julie Dash – an American filmmaker and writer, known for her feature film “Daughters of the Dust,” which is widely considered a masterpiece of cinema. Upon its 1991 release, “Daughters of the Dust,” became the first full-length film directed by an African-American woman to obtain general theatrical release in the United States.
  • June Mathis – an American screenwriter who was the first female executive for Metro/MGM. Mathis was a highly influential figure in 1920s Hollywood – at one time, she was the highest paid executive in the industry.
  • Janicza Bravo – an American filmmaker and writer, known for her distinctive comedic style and her work on films such as “Zola,” and “Lemon.”
  • Kasi Lemmons – an American actress and filmmaker known for her work on films like “Eve’s Bayou,” and “Harriet.”
  • Kathleen Collins – a filmmaker and writer known for her 1982 film “Losing Ground,” whose work paved the way for Black women filmmakers in generations to come.
  • Kimberly Peirce – an American director best known for her debut feature film “Boys Don’t Cry.” Peirce is a founding member of ReFrame, an industry-wide effort to end discrimination against women and people of color in Hollywood.
  • Kim Gehrig – a multi-award-winning commercial director whose impressive career includes directing the acclaimed “Like a Girl,” campaign for Always and winning the Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Film Craft.
  • Lana Wachowski – an American filmmaker and screenwriter who, along with her sister Lilly, helmed the influential sci-fi franchise “The Matrix,” along with films “Cloud Atlas,” and TV shows like “Sense8.”
  • Lulu Wang – a Chinese-American filmmaker known for her film “The Farewell,” which won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature in 2020.
  • Lucrecia Martel – an Argentine auteur film director and screenwriter known for her highly acclaimed films including “La Ciénaga,” “The Headless Woman” and “Zama.”


  • Maya Deren – a Ukrainian-American experimental filmmaker and choreographer known for her work on films such as 1943’s “Meshes of the Afternoon,” which is regarded as one of the most influential experimental films in American cinema history.
  • Marjane Satrapi – an Iranian-born French graphic novelist, cartoonist, and filmmaker best known for her autobiographical film “Persepolis.” “Persepolis,” won Best First Film at the César Awards in 2008.
  • Melina Matsoukas – a prolific music video, commercial, and television director, acclaimed for her pioneering work including “Formation,” by Beyoncé, “We Found Love,” by Rihanna, HBO’s “Insecure,” and her feature debut “Queen & Slim.” In 2021, Matsoukas became the first woman and first person of color to win the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Commercials.
  • Moufida Tlatli – a Tunisian film director, screenwriter, and editor noted for her breakthrough film “The Silences of the Palace,” in 1994, which investigates issues of gender, class and sexuality in the Arab world and won several international awards.
  • Nancy Meyers – a filmmaker whose films include “The Parent Trap,” “What Women Want,” “Something’s Gotta Give,” and “It’s Complicated.” Meyers was nominated for an Academy Award for best screenwriting for “Private Benjamin,” in 1980.
  • Nia DaCosta – a director and writer, known for her work on the films “Little Woods,” and “Candyman.” With the latter, DaCosta became the first African American woman to have a #1 film at the American box office.
  • Nisha Ganatra – a Golden Globe-winning and Emmy-nominated director, who (in addition to her commercial work) directed the feature films “Late Night,” and “The High Note,” two acclaimed films exploring the entertainment industry. 
  • Neema Barnette – a director who was the first African American woman to direct a primetime sitcom, the first African-American woman to get a three-picture deal with Sony, and who has since continued to direct numerous TV shows and films. 
  • Nadine Labaki – a Lebanese actress, director and activist who is renowned for being the first female Arab director to be nominated for an Oscar in the category for Best Foreign Language Film for “Capernaum,” in 2018.
  • Ondi Timoner – an award-winning documentary filmmaker who has had the distinction of winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival – twice!
  • Oge Egbuonu – a Nigerian-American filmmaker and activist best known for her documentary “(In)Visible Portraits” which celebrates the lives of Black women in America.
  • Patricia Cardoso – a Colombian-American filmmaker and anthropologist whose work includes “Real Women Have Curves.” She was the first Latinx woman director to have a film included in the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry and to receive a Sundance Audience Award.
  • Patty Jenkins – a director who helmed “Monster,” in 2003 and directed 2017’s “Wonder Woman,” and its sequel. With “Wonder Woman,” Jenkins became the first female director of an American studio superhero movie, and the film earned the biggest domestic opening for a female director at the time of its release.
  • Penny Marshall – a pioneering filmmaker who directed hits like “Big” and “A League of Their Own.” “Big,” became the first film directed by a woman to gross more than $100 million at the U.S. box office.
  • Penelope Spheeris – a filmmaker known for her work in documentaries (including the “Decline of Western Civilization,” series) and films like 1992’s “Wayne’s World.”
  • Petra Costa – a Brazilian film director and producer, known for her documentaries “Elena,” and “The Edge of Democracy”.
  • Rungano Nyoni is a Zambian-Welsh director known for her debut feature film “I Am Not a Witch,” which won Nyoni the BAFTA for Outstanding Debut in 2018.
  • Rachel Morrison – a cinematographer known for her work on “Black Panther,” and “Mudbound.” Morrison became the first woman ever nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 2018.
  • Regina King – an acclaimed actress and director who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “If Beale Street Could Talk,” and has directed episodes of “This Is Us” and “Insecure.” For her feature directorial debut, “One Night In Miami…”, she became the second black woman to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director.
  • Rina Yang – a talented British cinematographer known for her work on “Euphoria,” “Nanny,” and for her work on multiple Taylor Swift music videos, including Swift’s directorial turn, “All Too Well: The Short Film.”
  • Ruth E. Carter – a costume designer known for her work on “Black Panther” and “Malcolm X,” who became the first Black person ever to win an Academy Award for Best Costume Design in 2019. Most recently, Carter received the Academy Award for Best Costume Design again in 2023, for her work on “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”


  • Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy – a Pakistani filmmaker who has won multiple Academy Awards and 7 Emmy awards for her documentaries. She is first person of Pakistani origin to win any Academy Award. In 2012, the Government of Pakistan honoured her with the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, the second highest civilian honor of the country.
  • Sofia Coppola – a writer and director known for her intimate and stylized films, including “Lost In Translation,” “The Virgin Suicides,” and “Marie Antoinette.”
  • Stella Meghie – a Canadian film director and screenwriter known for her romantic dramas, including “The Photograph,” and “Everything, Everything.” For her debut feature, Meghie was nominated for Best First Screenplay at the Independent Spirit Awards.
  • Sally Potter – a British filmmaker known for her art-house films, including 1992’s “Orlando,” an adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s novel of the same name.
  • Sandi Tan – Singaporean filmmaker and author known for her acclaimed 2018 documentary film “Shirkers,” and her novel “The Black Isle.”
  • Sue Gibson – a British cinematographer who was, in 1992, the first female member of the British Society of Cinematographers, and later became the first female president of the society in 2008.
  • Sydney Freeland – a Navajo filmmaker known for her award-winning feature films “Drunktown’s Finest,” and “Deidra & Laney Rob a Train,” as well as her work on TV series such as “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Queen Sugar.”
  • Sarah Polley – a Canadian (retired) actress and director known for her autobiographical films. In 2022, she wrote and directed the film “Women Talking,” for which she won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
  • Tamar-kali – a composer who has worked on films including Dee Rees’ “Mudbound,” and “Shirley”.
  • Tami Reiker – American cinematographer who has worked on films such as “One Night In Miami…” and “Beyond the Lights.” She is the first woman to win an American Society of Cinematographers Award, in addition to being the first woman nominated.
  • Tazuko Sakane – Japan’s first female director, whose 1936 film “New Clothing,” is known to be the first Japanese feature film directed by a woman.
  • Tina Mabry – American writer-director known for her film “Mississippi Damned,” and her work on the TV show “Queen Sugar.”
  • Terilyn A. Shropshire – a film editor who has worked on many popular films such as “Eve’s Bayou” and “The Old Guard”. Shropshire has received an Eddie Award from the American Cinema Editors and has been nominated for an Emmy Award.
  • Thelma Schoonmaker – an American film editor who has worked on many of Martin Scorsese’s films over the course of 5+ decades. She has won three Academy Awards for her work.
  • Tressie Souders – although very little is known about this early film pioneer, she is reported to have directed, produced, and wrote the screenplay for “A Woman’s Error,” making her the first known African-American woman to direct a feature film.
  • Věra Chytilová – best known for her 1966 Czech New Wave film, “Daisies,” Věra Chytilová was an acclaimed Czech filmmaker renowned for her surrealist sensibilities.
  • Victoria Mahoney – a director and writer who became the first woman and person of color to serve as a director on a “Star Wars,” film when hired as a second-unit director on “The Rise of Skywalker.”
  • Vicky Jenson – a director who co-directed the animated classic “Shrek,” and went on to direct other films, including “Post Grad,” and “Shark Tale.”
  • Wanuri Kahiu – a Kenyan film director and producer known for her films “Rafiki,” and “From a Whisper.” She is the co-founder of AFROBUBBLEGUM, a media collective dedicated to supporting African art for its own sake.
  • Zackary Drucker – an American visual artist, producer, director, and trans woman whose work breaks down cultural ideas about gender, sexuality, and seeing. Most recently, she co-directed “The Stroll,” with Kristen Lovell, centering on the history of New York’s Meatpacking District from the perspective of transgender sex workers who lived and worked there.
  • Zoya Akhtar – Indian filmmaker who works in Hindi cinema, directing popular films including “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara,” and “Gully Boy.”
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