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Spike Lee Adds Films Directed by Women To His Essential Films List

by Sergio
August 21, 2013 8:58 AM
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So last month, when Spike Lee released his list of essential films (HERE) many people were perturbed that, of the 87 films he listed, none were directed by women.

Spike, however, has listened to those complaints, or, as he said yesterday on his Kickstarter blog, "Thank You For That Coat Pulling," and added seven films directed by women to his essential films list, four of them directed by the same person.

Those women-directed films are:

The Piano, Jane Campion (1993)

Daughters of the Dust, Julie Dash (1991)

The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow (2008)

The Seduction of Mimi, Lina Wertmuller (1972)

Love and Anarchy, Lina Wertmuller (1973)

Swept Away, Lina Wertmuller (1974)

Seven Beauties, Lina Wertmuller (1975)

Personally I would have gone with Point Break instead of The Hurt Locker for Bigelow, but then that’s just me.

What do say about these additions?

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  • Hugh | September 4, 2013 8:59 AMReply

    Tiffany--Why this has turned into some sort of need for any type of further responses is beyond me (actually is now both quite amusing and sad) everything that needed to be said was said. Your claims of your knowledge of this site and your pedigree don't sync with your previous comments so feel free to continue this whereas this is where I get off. Lol.

  • Hugh | August 22, 2013 11:28 AMReply

    Tiffany. The fact is your opinion is woefully short on the facts. It sounds as though you don't want to make the effort to go to the festivals, etc. to see the work discussed--frequently--here on this site. It's not on cable? or On Demand? Go seek it out. You will be greatly rewarded for your efforts. You couldn't be at a better site for information on a topic like this that's being addressed here so for you to post this reply to my initial & following comments troubles me and that's the fact. One last item--and I'll quote you, "...the ones (films) that are decent, do not have enough funds to really flush out the story and make it provocative and something you'd want to see twice." That's part of what Spike brought to a national spotlight with his involvement with crowdfunding via Kickstarter--and IndieGoGo has been discussed as well. Though I appreciate your participation in, what was, and is, my observation on Spike's list, please discontinue any further responses to my comments and instead seek the informed opinions of Sergio, Tambay, or any of the regular contributors to this site. Thanks.

  • JaySmack | August 21, 2013 4:13 PMReply

    Why does Spike have to make an addendum at all? By the way, did he have any movies by handicapped directors? Let's see how silly uber-inclusiveness can get.

  • slice | September 19, 2013 9:36 PM


    Basically because there have been some truly talented women filmmakers to come out in the last 40 some years, and the film industry is no longer just a man's game, and his list should have reflected that. Obviously he didn't have a problem with the suggestions, since he added them to his list--he's wasn't tripping over it,so why should you?

  • Tiffany | August 26, 2013 5:47 PM

    Hugh, you seem to be taking this very personal. This is a healthy debate and I am entitled to my opinion based on my experience in the black film market. I choose not to be in denial and I am a HUGE FAN of Shadow & Act and their news. I read it all the time. I frequent film festivals in all diversities, so I am speaking from a very factual place. I'm just not that impressed with mediocre work and refuse to waste my time past 15 minutes. I will relpy to whomever I want, whenever I want. This is an open forum and if you can't take it perhaps you need to search yourself as to why you're so offended. Take care-

  • tamara | August 21, 2013 3:00 PMReply

    i was pleased to see the hurt locker as his bigelow selection :-)

  • ooby | August 21, 2013 2:42 PMReply

    Claire Denis!

  • urbanauteur | August 22, 2013 3:34 PM

    YES!!! what a omission along with Agnes Varda & Ida Lupino.

  • Hugh | August 21, 2013 2:01 PMReply

    Tiffany. "mostly stereotypical stories"? "they (African American male filmmakers) never push the envelope"? Clearly you are unaware of the site that you decided to respond to my comment on (which I still stand behind). Why don't you scroll previous posts here and you will discover a plethora of AA male (and female) filmmakers that are not telling sterotypical stories and pare absolutely pushing the envelope.

  • Dez | August 21, 2013 1:28 PMReply

    Funny; no mention of Euzhan Palcy?

  • Man-Over-Bored | August 21, 2013 12:14 PMReply

    "Personally I would have gone with Point Break instead of The Hurt Locker for Bigelow, but then that’s just me." Totally agree with you on that one.

  • Troy | August 21, 2013 11:30 AMReply

    I would have added Blue Steel and even Strange Days as well. I blame the latter's heavyhandedness and bloated running time on James Cameron.

  • Tiffany | August 21, 2013 11:25 AMReply

    Why do we always have to make a big deal about the lack thereof of AA content (directors, writers) otherwise? This is Spike's list and frankly, these films are great ones. There are very few AA writers, directors who do exceptional work. They are mostly stereotypical stories we've seen before. They never push the envelope. Spike Lee has been one of the most provocative Black filmmakers of our generation. There is no one AFTER him that can compare to him. These filmmakers will have to do a LOT of work to get on this list and we have to stop giving PASSES to filmmakers just because they're BLACK. Because when we continue to let people pass just because they're black, they will never live up to a standard of great filmmaking...hence this list.

  • slice | September 19, 2013 9:31 PM


    There are a LOT of black filmmakers who make good films out there---this site spotlights them all the time---you really don't know what you're talking about. The problem is, white indie filmmakers get more of a free pass to do exceptional work or whatever the hell they want to make. Black filmmakers don't get a pass on their work because they're black--hell, they don't even get a pass, period, most of the time. If their work dosen't fit the stereotypical Hollywood mold, they find it harder to get their work distributed or promoted in any way. To say that NO AA filmmakers do exceptional work is ridiculous,especially since white filmmakers who do not only unexceptional but churn out the same-same old are able to do it all the time. Black indie filmmakers who try and break the mold simply don't get their work pushed to the extent that their white counterparts do,flat-out. And even Spike,to his credit, has never claimed to be the greatest black director ever---he even said one time years ago that he was glad to see more sisters and brothers coming up in the film industry because he got tired of being the only one out there. You totally forgot about what George Lucas found out when he tried to get his film Red Tails distributed--the (mostly white) distributors have this outdated and racist belief that white people don't want to see black films,which has been proven wrong tie and time again---look at The Butler, which is currently the latest big box office hit.

    Also check out Fruitvale Station, if you haven't already.

    Here's some good films to see:

  • NO BRAINER | August 25, 2013 1:21 PM

    Well said, TIFFANY.

  • NaT | August 21, 2013 2:10 PM

    Um....huh??? Clearly you haven't watched a lot of films by Black filmmakers. Ousmane Sembene? Diop Mambety? Euzhan Palcy? Charles Burnett (whom Spike did recognize in his first list)? Kasi Lemmons? Andrew Dosunmu? Steve McQueen? Marlon Riggs??! Abdheramane Sissako? Have you watched their films? And these are just a FEW Black filmmakers who have clearly "pushed the envelope", have original voices and creative vision. Not to mention the many, many Black filmmakers who are making shorter works that are astounding. We may not see these works on BET or other venues that are interested in showcasing mainstream stories with so-so quality, but they are OUT THERE. Maybe you didn't realize, but it's not easy to be a Black filmmaker with stories that "push the envelope".

  • Hugh | August 21, 2013 10:18 AMReply

    Not a whole lot of African-American male filmmakers, either.

  • Tiffany | August 21, 2013 4:49 PM

    I am very familiar with the filmmakers you've mentioned. I'm not interested in 12 years a slave, and Shame was cutting edge, but it was not considered a "black film" to me. I am not speaking of critically acclaimed AA writers, directors (which is a very short list). I used to be a script reader, and the content that comes in is a ratio of about 1 in 25...and most are just OK that are passable. I think the problem is, there's such a lack of great writers in our sector that the movies coming from independent filmmakers feel like we've seen them before, and the ones that are decent, do not have enough funds to really flush out the story and make it provocative and something you'd want to see twice. I support black filmmakers as much as I can stand, I just think we're all so used to seeing mediocre work and the lack thereof of GREAT work, that, we feel it's an obligation as a people to support every back film out there, and I think that is a disservice because it does not encourage growth in the art form.

    This is simply my opinion. I'm not bashing yours...but at some point we must face the facts.

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