Top 10 Female Directed Animations

Women direct in a wide variety of genres even though there are those who would convince you otherwise. On this blog we have previously shared 10 horror films directed by women (twice) and 10 sci-fi films directed by women as well as 10 films you may not have realised were directed by a woman at all. However, animation seems to be the area that lacks female directors the most making up just 3% of directors in the genre [1].

So I think it’s time we share the work of that 3% in the hopes that we can get the conversation going around increasing that number dramatically. The list is in no particular order.

The Breadwinner (2017) – Directed by Nora Twomey

This animated feature film about an Afghan family struggling to survive in the patriarchal society of contemporary Kabul was based on a novel by a Canadian writer and produced in an Irish animation studio. Executive produced by Angelina Jolie the film was also Oscar-nominated for Best Animation in 2018.

Frozen (2013) – Directed by Jennifer Lee & Chris Buck

No animation list would be complete without this undeniable cultural phenomenon co-directed by Jennifer Lee. It may have driven everyone crazy with its Oscar-winning original soundtrack but there’s no denying the pure cultural impact this film had. The duo also recently directed the film’s sequel, which had less critical acclaim, but still stands as an important landmark for gender equality in Animation directing.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) – Directed by Lotte Reiniger

Directed by German pioneer Lotte Reiniger The Adventures of Prince Achmed is the first animated film that still exists today coming more than 10 years before Disney’s Snow White. Creating innovative techniques and technologies in order to create the animations signature cut-out silhouette style, this was the first and only feature animation Reiniger ever made.

A Silent Voice (2016) – Directed by Naoko Yamada

One of my biggest issues with anime is that a lot of it has an excessively heavy male gaze. Most of the content is directed by men, but there are female-directed anime’s out there like A Silent Voice. Tackling the themes of bullying and redemption A Silent Voice is the story of a former class bully that reaches out to the deaf girl he’d tormented in grade school.

Asparagus (1979) – Directed by Suzan Pitt

A dialogue-free surreal animation that explores female sexuality and identity Asparagus is dreamlike and engages with ideas around creative expression and inspiration. After premiering at the Whitney Museum of Art, Asparagus played for two years alongside David Lynch’s Eraserhead (1977) in midnight screenings in Los Angeles and New York. 

Bao (2018) – Directed by Domee Shee

A groundbreaking addition to the Pixar animated shorts collection Domee Shi was the first woman to direct an animation for Pixar. This cute animated short tells the story of a woman suffering from empty nest syndrome that gets a second shot at motherhood when one of her handmade dumplings springs to life.

Brave (2012) – Directed by Brenda Chapman & Mark Andrews

A completely underrated Disney Pixar film that broke boundaries long before Frozen with its firey female protagonist and first sole female director. Unfortunately, Chapman was taken off the project [2] for reasons she reveals in the documentary Half The Picture with the company bringing in Andrews to finish the project. Her initial vision she confirmed still remains in the film but a heartbreaking decision all the same.

Peter & The Wolf (2006) – Directed by Suzie Templeton

Known for her gritty animation style Templeton’s reimagining of Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter & the Wolf original composition uses stop-frame animation and embraces the dark nature of the classic tale we all know. It won Best Animated short at the Oscars in 2008.

Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) – Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson

The successful sequel to the 2008 Dreamworks animation Kung Fu Panda makes history as one of the first animated featured films given solely to a woman to direct. The story follows now Dragon Warrior Po (Jack Black) as he takes it upon himself to foil the plans of murderous peacock Shen (Gary Oldman) who intends to conquer China and destroy kung fu.

Tarantella (1940) – Directed by Mary Ellen Bute

Mary Ellen Bute was one of the first American filmmakers to explore abstract animation and was a pioneer of a type of animation called ‘visual music’. Between 1934 and 1959 Bute made 11 abstract films, many of which screened at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. In Tarantella Bute explores the musical concept of dissonance.

Can you think of any Animated films that we’ve missed?
Let us know in the comments below.

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