Films and TV Shows for your International Women’s Day Watchlist
By Nell Cohen
It’s that time of year again where we set aside a few moments, perhaps a touch more than usual, to sit back and think deeply about the state of women’s rights in the modern era –International Women’s Day. A banger of a day. Be sure to note down this Saturday’s International Women’s Day March and Rally in your diaries, but if you’re not the type to schlep your megaphone all the way to Hyde Park, there are other indulgences you can dip your spoon into within the comforts of your own couch. Here’s a taster of some recent films and TV shows that not only score an HD in the Bechdel Test, but also feature exceptional leading lasses, female-driven plotlines, and complex feminist themes, in all their glory.
Trailer: https://youtu.be/biIRlcQqmOc Directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen Subject and Star: Ruth Bader Ginsburg
“I did see myself as a kind of kindergarten teacher in those days, because the judges didn’t think sex discrimination existed”.
Released in 2018, the documentary RBG recounts the awe-inspiring ascension of U.S Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. From being reprimanded by the Dean of Harvard Law for taking the place of a man, to championing women’s rights by re-shaping a rort American legal system in the 1970’s, to becoming the 84-year-old ‘Great Dissenter’ of the Supreme Court – and no taller than five feet - the legacy of RBG will blow your hat off. Needless to say it left me in the throngs of deep desire for a “Notorious R.B.G” t-shirt.
Short Clip (trailer ruins it): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6O6wR44AY4 Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos Written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara Starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone
“Must you rub it in? A man’s dignity is the one thing that holds him back from running amok.”
“Sometimes a lady likes to have some fun.”
Possibly the crudest royal family period drama I have ever seen, made famous by a tremendous cast and crew, and Olivia Colman’s glorious Oscar acceptance speech, The Favourite was the lady-love triangle I didn’t know I needed. It’s steamy, darkly funny, features obscure camera work, and three strong-willed, complex women who practically run 16th century Great Britain. They’re twisted, but they’re in charge, and I love them. Its snub for Best Picture is a casual reminder that we have a long way to go before women actually rule the world.
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BS27ngZtxg Directed by Alfonso Cuarón Starring Yalitza Aparicio
“No matter what they tell you, we women are always alone.”
Roma is a deeply moving compilation of wide black-and-white tracking shots telling the story of a young maid who works for a middle-class family in 1970 Mexico City. Cuarón’s semi-autobiographical film, a beautiful ode to the women that raised him, presents the hardships and ordinariness of their lives within a backdrop of political upheaval, hierarchy and pernicious masculinity. Its poignancy and stunning visuals makes for an unusual but deserving candidate for the no. 1 spot on your Netflix binge list. It’s worth getting through the seemingly slow yet symbolically saturated “ballet” of the oversized car parking in the driveway.
Period. End of Sentence.
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KocJP8dG1OA Directed by Rayka Zehtabchi
“A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education.”
“I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar.” (For a gratifying elaboration, please see their full Oscar acceptance speech.)
This is a 26 minute film about menstruation. Need I say more? Set in a village in rural India, this documentary explores the harmful stigmas of periods, and how a few women begin to challenge the status quo when they start manufacturing cheap and high-quality sanitary pads. If you’re looking for something short and uplifting, look no further than Period. End of Sentence.
And afterwards, check out www.thepadproject.org, an organisation that helps women in developing countries gain financial independence by raising money for machines that make sanitary pads.
The Marvelous Mrs Maisel
Clip (trailer = spoilers): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6XJeFEZT3U Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino Starring Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Borstein and Michael Zegen
“Why do we have to pretend to be stupid when we're not stupid? Why do we have to pretend to be helpless when we're not helpless? Why do we have to pretend we're not hungry when we're hungry?”
Miriam “Midge” Maisel is a Jewish housewife straight outta 1950’s Upper West Side Manhattan, who is deserted by her husband for his young secretary. She proceeds to drunkenly share her woes in an improvised skit at a downtown club, and so begins her chaotic and patriarchy-smashing career in stand-up comedy. The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (television series first aired in 2017) is as fast as Roma is slow. It’s witty, slightly fantastical, neurotic, and makes for light and joyous historical fiction loosely inspired by Joan Rivers.
Available on Amazon Prime, both Season 1 and 2 are best viewed in the presence of middle-aged Jewish parents.
Oldies But Goodies
And if you need to delve deeper into the historical records for some feminist-inspiring content, look no further than these classics:
Jane the Virgin (2015 to present)
Orange is the New Black (2013 to present)
Marie Antoinette (2006)
In A World (2013)
Whether you’re marching on the streets, or marching to your couch, there’s always a way to commemorate International Women’s Day. Baby steps; put on a movie.