Hollywood’s diversity issue has been no secret over the course of the past century, but even more recently in the past couple of decades. In the film industry, women have struggled for representation both on-camera and behind the scenes. Over the past three years, female directors have begun carving out their role in Hollywood, starting at just 8% in 2018. Opportunities for women were up from 13% in 2019 to 18% last year, reaching a historic all-time high.
2021 is shaping up to be a good year for female directors, with work to still be done. 46% of the 71-feature lineup in the Sundance Film Festival were directed by one or more women. From indie films to big studio blockbusters, we’ve rounded up just a small sampling of female-directed flicks that we’re looking forward to watching this year.
“Candyman” (Nia DaCosta)
The 90s are back once again. Nia DaCosta directed this Jordan Peele-produced horror flick, rebooting the 1992 film of the same name. The film picks up where the original left off in Chicago’s Cabrini Green neighborhood 30 years later. The Cabrini towers were torn down after the neighborhood became gentrified, but the spirit of the Candyman still lingers. After a visual artist moves into a renovated condo with his girlfriend, he unknowingly opens the floodgates to let the dark past back in.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, and Colman Domingo
August 27, 2021
“One Night in Miami” (Regina King)
Regina King made her directorial debut with “One Night in Miami,” which made its official debut on December 25, 2020. The film is a fictional account of a night where Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown gather at a room at the Hampton House after Ali’s title win over Sonny Liston to discuss their roles in the civil rights movement.
Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, and Leslie Odom Jr.
December 25, 2020, streaming now on Amazon.
“Zola” (Janicza Bravo)
Acclaimed writer and director Janicza Bravo is bringing a viral Twitter thread to life, having written and directed the upcoming film “Zola.” The film follows Zola, a waitress in Detroit who forms a friendship with a customer named Stefani. She seduces Zola, convincing her to tag along for a weekend of partying in Florida. The seemingly glamorous trip unfolds into a nightmarish mess of a 48-hour journey full of “you had to see it to believe it” moments.
Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun, Ari’el Stachel, and Colman Domingo
Jun 30, 2021
“Respect” (Liesl Tommy)
The highly anticipated Aretha Franklin biopic is finally hitting the silver screen this year after years of discussion. The film is based on the incredible life of the legendary R&B singer, following her on her rise to stardom from a child singing in the choir at her father’s church to international stardom. “Respect” is the story of Franklin’s journey to find her voice and transform into the music icon she will forever be known as.
Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, and Tituss Burgess
August 13, 2021
“Nomadland” (Chloe Zhao)
2021 is going to be a big year for Zhao. The filmmaker is making her Marvel debut with The Eternals in November but is kicking the year off with the independent Western-drama, “Nomadland,” based on the 2017 non-fiction book “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century” by Jessica Bruder. After Fern loses everything in the Great Recession, she packs her van and embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a modern-day nomad. The film features real-life nomads Linda May, Swankie, and Bob Wells playing fictionalized versions of themselves as they become Fern’s mentor and comrades as she begins to explore the landscape of the West.
Frances McDormand and David Strathairn
February 19, 2021