International Women's Day

Moana
Moana

Inspired by the Bechdel Test (which highlights gender representation issues in films using a simple test; films must include at least two female characters, who talk to each other, about something other than a man) and the F-Rating (a new film rating which highlights films made by and featuring women), this list celebrates films that feature female characters in central roles in front of and behind the camera. The selected films all feature inspiring female characters, and many boast female directors and writers.

Moana

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration103 mins

Moana(2016)

A courageous teenager follows in the footsteps of her ancestors in sailing across the Oceanic seas, accompanied by the demi-god called Maui.

This adventure celebrates the power of the ocean to connect as well as divide, and offers a new kind of Disney princess – Moana, the one chosen to conquer the seas once again after her island begins to suffer from lack of food. Brave, strong, and with the knack for navigation in her blood, Moana is the real hero in this story, although demi-god Maui offers a little help.

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When Marnie Was There

CertU

Age group7–14

Duration103 mins

When Marnie Was There(2014)

A shy girl sent to the country to recover from asthma discovers an abandoned mansion and begins to explore its mysteries with her new friend Marnie.

This charming final offering from Studio Ghibli, who frequently centre their stories around curious girls, focuses on the power of female friendship. While shy and complex Anna isn’t the easiest girl to get on with, her mysterious new-found friend Marnie helps her to come out of her shell.

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April and the Extraordinary World

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration106 mins

April and the Extraordinary World(2015)

In a smoggy steam-powered Paris, young scientist April is trying to finish her parents’ project to invent an invincibility serum.

Based on a graphic novel, this thrilling adventure set in an alternate version of the past explores the power of science to alter history, and features an inspiring hero in the character of April, a talented young scientist on the run from people who want to seize her valuable knowledge.

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Long Way North

CertPG

Age group5–11

Duration81 mins

Long Way North(2015)

Animated adventure about a noble Russian teen who sets out on a voyage to track down her grandfather, whose ship was lost en route to the North Pole.

With a female writing team behind the story, this adventure features a determined young woman who refuses to conform to the expectations of high society. Instead, Sasha is inspired to follow in her explorer grandfather’s footsteps. Despite the difficulty being accepted as the lone female in an all-male ship’s crew, Sasha proves herself a valuable member of the team.

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Frozen

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration97 mins

Frozen(2013)

Snow-filled and funny Disney adventure inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's icy fairytale, The Snow Queen.

This hugely popular Disney tale, written and directed by Jennifer Lee, features sisters Anna and Elsa, who grow apart when Elsa’s magical powers become too powerful for her to control. However, in this adventure it’s revealed that sisterly love will find a way, especially when the leaders of neighbouring towns try to take advantage of the sisters’ unusual situation…

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Brave

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration90 mins

Brave(2012)

Bringing the beauty of the Scottish Highlands to life, this is fairytale animation at its best.

Boasting the talents of writer and director Brenda Chapman, this Mediaeval tale centres on the relationship between a mother and her rebellious daughter. Determined not to be married off in the traditional manner, Merida decides she can take care of herself – she just has to persuade her family.

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Freaky Friday

CertU

Age group7–14

Duration95 mins

Freaky Friday (1977)

A constantly bickering mother and daughter magically swap bodies - and have the opportunity to see the world from the other's perspective.

Hollywood legend Jodie Foster, now an established director, appears as a young actor in this comedy about a mother and daughter who don’t see eye-to-eye, until they switch places to live a day in the others’ life, revealing much about the gender conventions of the 1970s. Written by Mary Rodgers, who also wrote the novel that the film is based on.

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Sonita

CertPG

Age group14+

Duration91 mins

Sonita(2015)

Documentary about Sonita, a young Afghan rapper determined to make her voice heard in spite of the repressive society she criticises in her lyrics.

Sonita is a refugee and aspiring rapper who discovers that even in her adopted country speaking out as a woman is unacceptable. Given support by the documentary’s director Roksareh Ghaemmaghami, she finds the opportunity to escape a predetermined fate as a teenage bride and connect with an audience that appreciates, rather than condemns, her words.

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Speed Sisters

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration78 mins

Speed Sisters(2015)

This thrilling documentary follows the daring and inspiring Speed Sisters, the first all-female team of street racers in the Middle East.

Breaking into a male-dominated sport is not easy, especially one that involves serious financial commitment, and the women who make up the Speed Sisters are inspiring in their dedication, putting in hard work and hard-earned cash for their training and specialist customisation of their vehicles required.

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The Second Mother

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration112 mins

The Second Mother(2015)

Moving Portuguese language drama about a housekeeper reunited with her daughter after many years apart.

Written and directed by Anna Muylaert, this drama puts generational differences under the spotlight as Val, a loyal housekeeper to a wealthy family, is reunited with Jessica, the daughter she had to leave behind to find work. At first delighted to be reunited, Jessica soon becomes a disruptive influence who challenges Val’s compliant position in the household.

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A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration101 mins

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night(2014)

Middle Eastern set, film noir inspired fairy tale about a female vampire stalking the outlaws of her town.

An unconventional love story that focuses on an enigmatic vampire who uses her powers as a vigilante, defending women who find themselves at the mercy of unsavoury men. In her feature film debut, writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour embraces the atmospheric power of black-and-white cinematography to tell a tale in which the morality is anything but.

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He Named Me Malala

CertPG

Age group11–16

Duration87 mins

He Named Me Malala(2015)

Inspirational documentary about equal education advocate Malala Yousafzai, the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel peace prize.

Targeted for speaking out against the prevention of girls from attending school, Malala survived an attack on her life and went on to become one of the youngest and most well-known advocates of education and women’s rights, whose incredible achievements are a global inspiration.

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My Skinny Sister

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration93 mins

My Skinny Sister(2015)

Compelling Swedish drama about a girl who struggles with the knowledge of her older sister’s eating disorder.

Written and directed by Sanna Lenken, this film investigates the delicate situation that arises between two sisters when one of them discovers that the other is suffering from an eating disorder. Sensitively capturing the tension between love and loyalty, this film exposes the dangers of pursuing perfection

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Whip It

Cert12

Age group11–16

Duration107 mins

Whip It(2009)

Drew Barrymore directs this hugely enjoyable alternative sports film about female bonding and finding your place in the world.

Beauty pageant regular Bliss discovers an alternative way to express her femininity when she discovers the high-octane world of roller derby. Enticed by the opportunity to project herself in a new light, Bliss also learns much more than the rules of the sport from the team of misfits that she joins.

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Ghostbusters

Cert12A

Age group11+

Duration116 mins

Ghostbusters(2016)

Supernatural comedy about four women who save New York from disaster by coming together to form a ghostbusting service.

Playfully updating the 1984 original with a gender-swapped cast, this film features some of Hollywood’s funniest femmes battling supernatural foes who struggle to be taken seriously, despite the vital contribution of their work towards the city’s safety.

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52 Tuesdays

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration110 mins

52 Tuesdays(2013)

Australian coming-of-age drama about a sixteen-year-old’s weekly meetings with her mother, who is undergoing gender reassignment.

Written and directed by Sophie Hyde, this coming-of-age tale focuses on Billie, a girl whose mother’s gender transition sees her temporarily living with her largely absent father. Experimenting with her newfound freedom, Billie decides to explore the boundaries of her own identity.

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