18 April 2019 Movies Written Or Directed By Women That You Should Definitely Know

Eli Joshua Ade/Universal Pictures

Spring has officially sprung and with April upon us, there comes a new slew of films. Thankfully, there's a good chunk of April 2019 releases written and directed by women, and several that have been highly anticipated after casting announcements, festival premieres, or exciting trailers. Other titles may be lesser known but can easily be considered undiscovered gems — sadly, too many great works are still buried under the mass marketing and money projects that get higher placement in Hollywood.

What's so telling about this month's releases is just how skilled women from all over the world are at storytelling in all genres and narratives. And yet so many projects with women at the helm or as the central protagonist have difficultly getting the greenlight, funding, or distribution. Things are changing for women in Hollywood — slowly — but the importance of supporting and celebrating films written, directed by, and starring women remains. Going to the theaters or streaming these films opening weekend is integral to how the industry interprets success. The only way another Captain Marvel gets made is by our showing up for them and the same is true for smaller, more intimate films like some of those on the list below (including Brie Larson's own directorial debut).

Let's keep the energy of Women's History Month going into April with these 18 movies written and/or directed by women.

1. 'High Life'

A24 on YouTube

Accomplished French filmmaker Claire Denis brings her first English language film to theaters with this sci-fi space story of criminals sent on a mission that promises to free them should they succeed. High Life stars Juliette Binoche as the perfectly complicated leader of the expedition, with Robert Pattinson and Andre 3000 playing two of the incarcerated passengers.

In theaters April 5.

2. 'The Wind'

IFC Films on YouTube

Teresa Sutherland penned this supernatural western horror set in the 19th-century American frontier. The directorial debut of Emma Tammi, The Wind largely centers on Lizzy Macklin (Caitlin Gerard), an isolated wife who senses evil on the plains, an evil only exacerbated by the new couple moving onto the homestead. Teresa Sutherland wrote the script.

In theaters and on demand April 5.

3. 'Unicorn Store'

Rhea Films

Brie Larson makes her directorial debut with this comedy script from Samantha McIntyre. Larson stars as Kit, an art student who loves unicorns and seeks to adopt one. The rest of the cast is killer, too: Bradley Whitford and Joan Cusack play Kit's parents and Captain Marvel co-star Samuel L. Jackson is the colorful Unicorn Store salesman who promises her the object of her desire.

On Netflix April 5.

4. 'My Days Of Mercy'

ONE Media on YouTube

Israeli director Tali Shalom Ezer (Princess) takes on Joe Barton's complicated love story set in a Romeo and Juliet-esque setting of families in opposition of one another. Ellen Page stars as Lucy, whose father is on death row for the murder of her mother. As she fights for his right to live, she meets Kate Mara's Mercy, the daughter of police officer who saw his partner killed on the job and now demands capital punishment serve as proper retribution. They are on opposite sides of the fight, but are attracted to one another's passion, among other things.

In theaters April 5.

5. 'After'

Aviron Pictures on YouTube

Jenny Gage directs this romance she co-wrote with Susan McMartin and Tamara Chestna. Based on the novel by Anna Todd, this story is all about a good girl going for a bad boy. Tessa (Josephine Langford) is a new young co-ed who gets dared to make out with Hardin (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) at a party, but refuses — but not for long. Just as she's about to fall hard, everyone around her weighs in with warnings, including her mom (Selma Blair) and Hardin's own father (Peter Gallagher).

In theaters April 12.

6. 'Little'

ONE Media on YouTube

Writer-director Tina Gordon worked with co-writer Tracy Oliver for this reimagining of the famous Penny Marshall movie Big. This time, Regina Hall stars as a menacing tech mogul who is forced to revert to her younger self (Marsai Martin). Issa Rae is the reluctant assistant forced to help her boss with her plight, and hilarity for sure ensues.

In theaters April 12.

7. 'Mary Magdalene'

Universal Pictures UK on YouTube

Rooney Mara is the titular Mary in this film written by Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett, with her real-life boyfriend Joaquin Phoenix playing Jesus. It's largely Mary vs. the men in this movie, as she deals with misogyny and judgment from the likes of apostles and her other God-fearing peers while finding love and support from Jesus before (spoiler?) he dies.

In theaters April 12.

8. 'Girls Of The Sun'

Cohen Media Group on YouTube

Eva Husson writes and directs this Cannes selection about a battalion of women picking up guns and taking down ISIS in Kurdistan. The women are former captives, all forced into sex slavery and prepared to fight now that they are free. A French journalist (Emmanuelle Bercot) joins them in hopes of detailing their mission, and befriends their hard-headed leader, Bahar (Golshifteh Farahani) during the intense and emotional journey.

In theaters April 12.

9. 'Someone Great'

Netflix on YouTube

Gina Rodriguez leads this rom-com as Jenny, a music journalist who lands her dream job — in San Francisco. Her boyfriend of nine years doesn't want to leave New York, so he breaks things off, leaving her distraught when she should be ecstatic. Her best friends (Brittany Snow and DeWanda Wise) decide to help her rally and have the best send-off ever in hopes she'll forget about her broken heart in this script from writer/director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson.

On Netflix April 19.

10. 'Breakthrough'

Rapid Trailer on YouTube

This is Us star Chrissy Metz plays the mother of John, a young boy who is in a coma after falling through ice while playing with friends. Josh Lucas costars as John's father in this Christian drama based on a true story and the novel of the same name. Roxann Dawson directs a script from Grant Nieporte (Seven Pounds).

In theaters April 19.

11. 'The Curse Of La Llorona'

Warner Bros. Pictures on YouTube

Mikki Daughtry and writing partner Tobias Iaconis wrote this horror film starring Linda Cardellini as a social worker who finds a disturbing supernatural presence at play with a family she's assigned to as well as her own. That presence reveals itself to be evil in the form of La Llorona, a Latin American spirit who lost her children and wreaks havoc on others' with her curse. There's said to be a secret tie into the Conjuring universe, which means you might want to see The Curse of La Llorona before The Conjuring 3 comes out in 2020.

In theaters April 19.

12. 'Fast Color'

Codeblack Movies on YouTube

Miss Stevens writer/director Julia Hart goes dystopian with her new film starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ruth, a woman on the run in an America that is suffering from a severe drought and depression. Ruth has super powers that aren't always ideal, and federal agents are after her for her abilities, which she's also passed on to her young daughter. Lorraine Toussaint plays her mother, who believes these powers can be tamed, but at what cost?

In theaters April 19.

13. 'Hail Satan?'

Magnolia Pictures & Magnet Releasing on YouTube

Penny Lane directs this documentary about American Satanists — specifically a group called the Satanic Temple who engage in public actions in the name of religious freedom (of course, not the kind of religious freedom the far right is looking for). Reviews out of Sundance have noted how funny and poignant the film is, and praised Lane's use of historic archival images and video drawing parallels to the Satanic Panic of the '80s and '90s and the fears and ideas about outsiders some people still hold today.

In theaters April 19.

14. 'Little Woods'

NEON on YouTube

Tessa Thompson gets back into the drug running game after working hard to get out. Her probation is just about up, but her family (including a sister played by Lily James) needs her help fast — she's their only hope for making the money they need to keep their home from going into foreclosure. Nia DaCosta makes her directorial debut with this emotional drama-thriller, which she also wrote.

In theaters April 19.

15. 'Rafiki'

IndieWire on YouTube

Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu made history with this film about two young women who fall for each other despite the homophobic violence rampant in their home country. This beautiful love story was originally banned in Kenya but was eventually allowed to screen for one week, and has won both rave reviews and awards from international critics and festivals.

In theaters April 19.

16. 'Red Joan'

TIFF Trailers on YouTube

Adapted by Lindsay Shapero from Jennie Rooney's best-selling novel of the same name, Red Joan is the true story of British Soviet spy Melita Norwood. Helen Mirren and Sophie Cookson portray Melita/Joan with flashbacks to her mid-20s (Cookson) intercutting with the Y2k setting in which Dench's Joan is arrested years into retirement. At age 80, she's interrogated about the information she provided the KGB about atomic bombs and other trade secrets while employed as a secretary at the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association, and the film goes back in time with her to recall these buried memories in this suspenseful spy thriller.

In theaters April 19.

17. 'Body At Brighton Rock'

Magnolia Pictures & Magnet Releasing on YouTube

Roxanne Benjamin's horror thriller has a young park guide (Karina Fontes) stumbling upon a dead body while checking out a rough trail and ending up off course. She gets orders to stay and secure the scene, but help isn't coming quick enough for her liking, and she's loathe to give up and admit defeat. A creepy passerby and hungry bear threaten to disturb an already frightful scenario as nightfalls.

In theaters and on demand April 26.

18. 'J.T. LeRoy'

Magnolia Pictures & Magnet Releasing on YouTube

Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Courtney Love, and Diane Kruger are all in this feature about the real-life literary hoax pulled by Laura Albert and J.T. Leroy co-writer Savannah Knoop. Knoop's memoir Girl Boy Girl: How I Became JT Leroy served as inspiration for the movie starring Stewart as Knoop, the woman who portrayed Leroy in public. Dern plays Albert, the author who created the fictional Leroy and passed him off as a real life person. It all gets unraveled in this film from first-time director Justin Kelly.

In theaters and on demand April 26.

There's something for everybody coming from both new and established female filmmakers next month.