You Need To Put These May Movies By Female Filmmakers On Your Cal

by Trish Bendix
Annapurna Pictures

It's wild to think that in 2019 we still need to be working so hard for stories by and about women to reach our screens but consider this: Variety reports that this year's Cannes Film Festival (happening May 14 - May 25) will have the strongest showing of women in competition since 2011. Even though that number has gone up, it's still quite low considering only 13 directors of the 47 films screening at Cannes are women. (Other film fests like Sundance and Berlinale, Variety points out, do much better with women filmmakers making up 46 percent and 40 percent of the lineup, respectively.)

Many of the films on this list of May 2019 movies written or directed by women premiered at film festivals, which the MPAA notes are a vital piece of the film ecosystem, in part providing opportunities for filmmakers to connect with new producers, studios, and distributors. And while the MPAA names three white men as some of "today’s iconic filmmakers ... film festivals have helped open doors for," women are a part of this same ecosystem and in need of the same boost provided by screenings at festivals, especially those as sizable and respected as Cannes.

This month, there are many great options for movies to see either at home or in the theaters — in particular, movies written or directed by women. Whether you're looking for a same-sex love story, comedies about female friendship, true crime about infamous cults, or documentaries following fierce women politicians, this spring has what you are looking for, thanks to women auteurs and those who support them.


'Knock Down The House'

Filmmaker Rachel Lears follows four female candidates (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, and Paula Jean Swearengin) as they mount grassroots political campaigns in the 2018 mid-term elections. This Netflix doc, co-written by Lear with Robin Blotnick, premiered at Sundance where it won the Audience Award: U.S. Documentary and the Festival Favorite Award.

Streaming on Netflix May 1.


'Tell it to the Bees'

Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger are secret lovers in this adaptation of Fiona Shaw's novel of the same name. Sisters Henrietta and Jessica Ashworth co-wrote the screenplay, directed by Annabel Jankel, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last year.

In theaters May 3.


'Bardo Blues'

Marcia Kimpton's feature debut is a partially autobiographical story based on her mentally ill brother. Stephen McClintic plays the fictional version, Jack, who travels to Thailand and attempts to find out more about the mother who abandoned him. Bardo Blues has won awards at several festivals, including the Amsterdam International Filmmaker Festival, Yes Canada FF, the LA Independent film festival, and the LA Femme International Film Festival, per Broadway World.

On demand May 3.


'The Silence Of Others'

Alumenda Carracedo co-directs this documentary that was shot over six years, following organizers of an Argentine Lawsuit in response to a 1977 amnesty law in Spain, prohibiting legal action related to the oppression, torture, and murder of an estimated 100,000 people during General Franco’s 40-year dictatorship. Pedro Almodovar served as an Executive Producer on this affecting film, which won the Goya Award for Best Documentary Film, per PBS.

In theaters May 8.


'Wine Country'

Amy Poehler directs this all-star comedy with some of SNL's funniest including Maya Rudolph, Paula Pell, Tina Fey, Ana Gasteyer, Rachel Dratch, and Poehler herself. Written by Emily Spivey and Liz Cackowski, the film follows a group of friends who go to Napa Valley for a 50th birthday celebration.

Streaming on Netflix May 8.



Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier, and Rhea Perlman form a cheerleading squad at their retirement home in this aspirational comedy from director and co-writer Zara Hayes. Even better: It's based on the real Sun City Poms in Arizona.

In theaters May 10.


'Charlie Says'

American Psycho's writer/director team of Guinevere Turner and Mary Harron reunite for this take on Charlie Manson, but focusing on the women he coerced into doing his bidding. Charlie Says made its premiere at the 75th Venice International Film Festival.

In theaters May 10.


'The Third Wife'

Ash Mayfair's screenplay forThe Third Wife won the 2014 Spike Lee Production Fund (via Women and Hollywood) which helped to get this coming-of-age story finished for an eventual premiere at TIFF in 2018. Fourteen-year-old May is set to be married off to a much older man in 19th-century Vietnam, which she's understandably not thrilled about.

In theaters May 15.


'A Dog's Journey'

Cathryn Michon and Maya Forbes are two of four writers on A Dog's Journey, director Gail Mancuso's sequel to A Dog's Purpose. With Kathryn Prescott as Dennis Quaid's granddaughter, it turns out Bailey the dog is a young woman's best friend.

In theaters May 17.


'The Sun Is Also A Star'

Natasha (Yara Shahidi) and Daniel (Charles Melton) meet and fall for one another at a very inopportune time: Natasha's family is facing deportation. Ry Russo-Young directs Tracy Young's adaptation of the best selling YA novel from author Nicola Yoon.

In theaters May 17.



Swedish writers and filmmakers Pella Kagerman and Hugo Lilja adapted this sci-fi disaster film from a famous poem by Harry Martinson, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Emelie Jonsson stars as a woman named Mr, living on the titular space ship which is headed for Mars but is fatefully knocked off course, sending everyone on board into a frenzy.

In theaters May 17.


'The Souvenir'

Tilda Swinton's daughter, Honor Swinton-Byrne, stars as a young woman enamored with an older man in writer/director Joanna Hogg's The Souvenir. Tilda herself pops up as her daughter's on-screen mom in this Sundance favorite, according to IndieWire.

In theaters May 17.


'Booksmart' (May 24)

First time feature director Olivia Wilde is behind this hilarious comedy about teenage friendship. Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever are long-time BFFs about to graduate high school, but not before attending one big party to round out their pre-college experience. Four different women contributed to this screenplay: Katie Silberman, Sarah Haskins, Emily Halpern and Susanna Fogel.

In theaters May 24.


'Too Late To Die Young' (May 31)

Chilean writer-director Dominga Sotomayor's third feature film centers on 16-year-old Sofia and her crush on Ignacio, a boy she thinks will take her away from her boring rural community at the foot of the Andes. It's a semi-autobiographical look at Sotomayor's own life growing up in the alternative ecological community of Peñalolén, according to Variety.

In theaters May 31.

Supporting women filmmakers is essential to seeing more of them thrive, so make sure these movies are on your calendar!

CORRECTION: This piece previously misidentified the star of The Sun is Also A Star, Yara Shahidi.