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25 Groundbreaking Female Directors: From Alice Guy to Chloé Zhao

alice guy chloe zhao
Courtesy of Everett Collection/Fox Searchlight

Women have been directing films from the beginning of cinema — Alice Guy is credited with directing one of the world’s first narrative films in 1896 — and have continued to break new cinematic ground, overcoming plenty of resistance in the more than 100 years since.

In the early pioneering days, women sometimes had a good shot at participating, but as the studio system took shape, men largely muscled women out of directing and other key creative roles. Female directors persisted anyway, innovating techniques and tackling subjects once forbidden to their gender.

There are many more noteworthy female directors beyond this list, including some who have been very successful. This offering focuses on filmmakers that have innovated or pushed boundaries in some way. Thanks to a push for more female directors in recent years, there will be even more opportunities for groundbreaking work ahead.