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Best of Women-centric films (10+1list)

Best of Women-centric films

written by Souranath Banerjee

What exactly is the definition of a  ‘WCF’ aka ‘Women-centric Film’

color-purple-posterIs it just another name for feminist films, or some upcoming trend/genre or may be it’s simply another way of film publicity?

Well, from Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (woman in action) to Bridesmaids (women having fun), from Kahaani (woman taking revenge) to Blue Is the Warmest Color (woman in love with woman); any film steered by one or more central female characters is automatically tagged as a WCF.

And why not?

In these male-dominated movie industries (Hollywood, Bollywood or thelma-and-louise-posterany wood for that matter), any damn story told while keeping the female-protagonist(s) in mind is sufficient enough to qualify!

But then again, some so called ‘Women-centric Films’ are special in their own ways.

These movies not only have female actors playing the lead but they also highlight certain feminist issues that are often too sensitive to mother-india-posterofficially protest and yet so very important to be addressed and recognized in our society.

And thus, here is a list of a few hard-hitting female oriented dramas from across the world (no biographies and documentaries are considered though).

Let’s not just wish and celebrate one particular day of every year as ‘Woman’s Day’ but respect and cherish the women in our lives each day of every single year!

10. Far from Heaven (2002)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qje4IEAQpQ

far-from-heaven-posterAn emotional tale of an apparently content housewife with her husband and two kids but then, woman often endure a lot to portray themselves ‘happy’ within the norms of our community!   

Brilliantly directed by Todd Haynes, this film is not only showcases a gender biased society but also about the way people treated the colored and the homosexuals of the time. 

9. Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women (2003)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AI9r0pnAhs

matribhumi-posterA powerful cinema that delves with the issue of female infanticide.

Directed by Manish Jha, this one is a raw and brutal portrayal of the mindset of certain men and the tolerance level of the vulnerable women in certain parts of rural India.

A cinema that deserves more recognition as it doesn’t flinch to portray the scars of our society.  

8. Vagabond (1985)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIqgGc_3n1I

vagabond-posterDirected by Agnès Varda, this one is based on a young traveling woman, a maverick vagabond, who has no aim, no money, no place to stay, and yet she roams around the freezing country side of France, independence being her only true company.

Made up of short interviews and flashbacks, a film like no other, celebrating the free spirit of a woman!

7. Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2W0TeuHbJ0

fried-green-tomatoes-posters1A film that says a lot about women, the way they are often treated and then, the way they demand to be treated!

Directed by Jon Avnet, this film is of course a take on the injustice that women are forced to withstand, but more importantly it is a film that celebrates the love and friendship between two women, and the profound impact of it in our male dominating culture.

6. Moolaadé (2004)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUWSwJfz8gI

Moolaadé-posterWe in the big cities, secured within our comfort zones often indulge into debates on feminism and the rights of women. But somewhere in Africa, little girls are still subjected to female circumcision and those who rebelled against this painful tradition are whipped to silence!

Directed by Ousmane Sembene, this daring film deals with the issue of female genital mutilation in a way that demands attention and respect.

5. Children of Men (2006)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VT2apoX90o

children-of-men-posterA SiFi thriller by definition, but the entire film revolves around the protection of a pregnant woman who is the key for the future of mankind. 

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón, a classic in many ways but the best thing about the film is the profound manner in which it pays tribute to woman as the mother figure.

A true celebration of womanhood indeed.

4. Dahan (1998)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHBRHdMJajs

dahan-posterAn Indian film (regional language Bengali) that deals with the aftermath of the tragic incident of molestation of a woman by five unknown men.

From the acclaimed director Rituparno Ghosh, the brilliance of the film is that it doesn’t directly emphasize on the aspect of molestation of women, but gives more prominence to the people’s reaction towards the victim.   

3. Lilya 4-Ever (2002)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqrQBJNDMgo

lilya-four-ever-poster1A Swedish film of a sixteen year old girl and a little boy (her only friend), and how they struggle and dream for a better life.

Directed by Lukas Moodysson, this is the story of all those poor young girls across the world who, without proper parental guidance and education gets sucked into the whirlpool of darkness, sexually exploited and abused, their innocence lost forever.

2. Water (2005)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7uM-CbzIAI

water-posterThis one from highly acclaimed director Deepa Mehta is a stunning portrayal of the widows in India who are forced into a life of extreme sacrifice and poverty. 

In the holy city of Varanasi, the film concentrates on a group of widows of varied ages but with the same doomed fate, sheltered in a temple without much resources. But then some of their lives begin to change for the better!

  1. Persona (1966)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amxvetvKfho

persona-posterA thrilling drama, and the most psychologically twisted cinema on the persona of women.

Nobody knew the intricate complexities in the mind of a woman better than Ingmar Bergman – their needs, their secrets, their love, their dreams and their power to hate!

And this one is a classic in every aspect, and indeed the best WCF of all times!

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most unique one. A must watch)

+1. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels (1975)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ih3nBxjkBH8

Jeanne Dielman-posterA widowed housewife taking care of her teenage son and her household as best as she can; an exceptional film that meticulously follows the life of this woman to its minuscule details.

Directed by Chantal Akerman, with minimal dialogues and long takes of certain daily chores, like having dinner, reading books, bathing, cooking e.t.c, this film has succeeded in portraying a women who is very much a known part of our society and yet somehow remains invisible, empty and alone.   

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