Feminists in Film

The Most Recent Documentaries (since 2011)

  • Feminists, Insha'allah!: the story of Arab feminism 
    DVD 10985 (2015, 50 min.) Filmmaker Feriel Ben Mahmoud tracks the progress of Arab women in their long march to assert their full rights and achieve empowerment.
  • Going Up the Stairs: Portrait of an Unlikely Iranian Artist
    DVD 8845 (2011, 52 min.) Akram is an illiterate 50 year old Iranian woman who became a painter unexpectedly when her young grandson asked her to work on a drawing - and that simple act tapped into an explosion of powerful, primitive and colorful paintings, which she hid from disapproving eyes. When invited to exhibit in Paris, she is a the mercy of her conservative husband - will he let her go showcase her raw talent or give in to his sense of tradition and keep her home?
  • Margaret Fuller legacy: America's first feminist, 1810-1850
    DVD 9478 (2012, 40 min.) A comprehensive overview of Margaret Fuller's life, times, and achievements from her Transcendental period to her pioneering work as a journalist and editor.
  • Passionate politics: the life and work of Charlotte Bunch
    DVD 8888 (2011, 58 min.) Tells the story of a lifelong feminist activist who worked tirelessly and globally for equal rights for women and LGBT people.
  • Pussy riot : a punk prayer
    DVD 1659 (2014, 88 min.) Tells the story of the members of the feminist art collective Pussy Riot, whose performance led to their arrest and culminated in a trial that transformed the face of Russian society forever.
  • Reflections unheard : Black women in civil rights
    DVD 10019 (2013, 81 min.) Through archival footage and interviews, former members of  the Black Panther Party and other organizations reveal how black women fought for recognition and against sexism.
  • Riot Grrrl New York City : a video. [Grrrl love and revolution]
    DVD 9222 (2012, 46 min.) Filmmaker Abby Moser's encapsulation of over 100 hours of original footage of Riot Grrrl meetings and events, and interviews shot between 1993 and 1996.
  • She's beautiful when she's angry
    DVD 3359 (2014, 92 min.) Tells the story of the birth of the women's liberation movement and brings to light the efforts of lesser-known activists.
  • Unafraid voices from the Crime Victims Treatment Center
    DVD 10641 (2014, 44 min.) Highlights the work of two unsung heroes in the movement for victims' rights at the height of 1970s feminism and the Women's Movement.
  • Wonder women!: the untold story of American superheroines
    DVD 9382 (2012, 55 min.) A critique of gender and heroism in popular culture, starting with comic book heroines but moving on to modern representations of powerful women in the media.
  • World before her
    DVD 1463 (2013, 91 min.) Uses the Miss India beauty contest and a Hindu fundamentalist camp for young girls to explore opposing cultural movements in India.

Earlier This Century

  • Africa is a women's name
    DVD 8286 (2009, 52 min.) Follows three very different African women working to create change, a housewife and businesswoman; a school principal, and a human rights attorney/politician.
  • After the Rape: the Mukhtaran Mai story 
    DVD 7475 (2008, 58 min.) In 2002, A Pakistani woman who was gang-raped by order of her tribal council as punishment speaks out, fighting for justice.
  • Ana Mendieta: fuego de tierra
    DVD 8228 (2010, 49 min.) A portrait of Cuban-born American artist Ana Mendieta, who used her own body, the raw materials of nature, and Afro-Cuban religion to express her feminist political consciousness and poetic vision. 
  • Beaches of Agnes
    DVD 6620 (2010, 110 min.) A rich cinematic self portrait that touches on art, the feminist movement, the Black Panthers, and the birth of the French New Wave.
  • Chisholm '72: unbought & unbossed
    DVD 9187 (2004, 77 min.) A documentary following the 1972 campaign waged by Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman to run for a major party's nomination for United States President.
  • Dolley Madison
    DVD 6979 (2010, 90 min.) An episode from the PBS series American Experience, presents the complex story of Dolley Madison, who thrived and exhibited great political influence in a time when women could neither vote nor participate officially in government.
  • The education of Shelby Knox
    DVD 2169 (2005, 76 min.) Documentary presenting the political activism of high school student Shelby Knox who fought against her school’s abstinence-only sex education policy.
  • Everything must come to light
    DVD 3674 (2002, 25 min.) Focuses on the lives of three lesbian sangomas (traditional healers) living in Soweto, South Africa, whose sexuality and healing powers involve a complex relationship with their ancestors
  • God sleeps in Rwanda
    DVD 2164 (2004, 28 min.) Five women struggle to rebuild their lives and redefine women’s roles in a country torn apart by war.
  • I was a teenage feminist
    DVD 1859 (2004; 62 min.) Armed with a video camera and an irreverent sense of humor, Therese probes diverse sources including Gloria Steinem, rowdy frat boys, a Cosmo-reading opera singer and even her own mother, to find out whether feminism can still be a source of personal and political power.
  • Ida B. Wells : a passion for justice
    DVD 4050 (2004, 53 min.) An episode from PBS's American Experience series, a chronicle the life of Ida B. Wells, African American journalist and activitist who protested racism and injustice and gave the women's suffrage movement a broader perspective.
  • In the matter of Cha Jung Hee 
    DVD 8447 (2010, 62 min.) Adoption, acculturation, and self-actualization are all explored in this personal documentary by a Korean-American filmmaker who as a girl had her identity switched at an orphanage before being adopted by an American family.
  • Louisa May Alcott the woman behind Little women
    DVD 778 (2008, 84 min.) A fresh, modern take on Louisa May Alcott, who as this film reveals, was not a prim, mousy creature conjured up by her image as a writer of fiction for girls, but an adventurous extraordinary woman.
  • Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision
    DVD 5387 (2003, 83 min.) The story of Maya Lin, the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, focusing on her vision, courage, and grace as she faced personal and artistic attacks during the bitter dispute that followed her design's selection.
  • Running in high heels
    DVD 4281 (2005, 90 min.) Documentary explores various aspects of women, politics, and feminism, asking the question whether or not women should vote for women, regardless of politics.
  • Russian feminism: twenty years forward
    DVD 3731 (2009, 35 min.) A capsule history of women's activism in the USSR and post-Soviet Russia
  • Say my name
    DVD 3171 (2009, 73 min.) Through the stories of more than 18 artists, explores how women in rap music deal with poverty, race, sexism, and motherhood.
  • !W.A.R.: Women art revolution
    DVD 7943 (2010, 84 min.) History of the feminist art movement in the late 20th century, including interviews with many of the participants.
  • Way north = La voie du nord : Maghrebi women in Marseille
    DVD 8131 (2008, 60 min) This film tells the story in sensual detail of Arab women who immigrated with their families to Marseille.
  • Women's kingdom
    DVD 4569 (2006, 22 min.) Explores the last matriarchal societies in the world, Mosuo women in southwest China.

Documentaries 1986-2000

Contact Us

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Humanities Librarian
(607) 274-1198
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Fine Arts Librarian
(607) 274-1199

Feature Films Featuring Feminists

  • Bend it like Beckham
    DVD 629 (2002) Fighting the stereotype that girls shouldn’t play boys' sports
  • Born in flames
    DVD 9717 (1983) Black lesbian feminist Lizzie Borden's radical political film is a futuristic comedy.
  • City of women = La città delle donne
    DVD 384 (1980) Fellini's surreal examination of machismo, feminism, sexual politics.
  • The color purple
    DVD 4276 (1965) A sisterhood stands together against racism and sexism
  • The Dollhouse
    DVD 1023 (2008) A filmed Mabou Mines theatrical production of an re-examining adaptation of Iben's classic which features very small men and very tall women in the cast.
  • Erin Brockovich
    DVD 4091 (2000) A feisty young mother becomes a successful environmental lawyer.
  • His girl Friday
    DVD 252 (1939) Hildy, a newspaper reporter, has one of the strongest feminist outlooks among women in the screwball comedy era.
  • Iron jawed angels
    DVD 8261 (2004) Dramatization of Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and other suffragist women who fought for the passage of the 19th Amendment.
  • Itty bitty titty committee
    DVD 2177 (2008) New grrrl on the block falls in with a gang of feisty feminists.
  • Juno
    DVD 5616 (2007) Smart and pregnant, the title teenager embodies empowerment.
  • Legally blonde  
    DVD 8503 (2001) In which a sorority queen emerges into a unlikely feminist
  • Matilda
    DVD 9516 (1996) A girl stands up for herself and others
  • Miss Julie = Frèoken Julie 
    DVD 7611 (1951) Adaptation of August Strindberg's misogynist play, in which feminist ideas lead to degeneracy.
  • Mona Lisa smile
    DVD 9172 (2003) Set in 1953, A first-year professor at Wellesley College challenges her students to fight the repressive mores of the fifties and stand for freedom.
  • Suffragette
    DVD 10786 (2016) The story of Maud, a working wife and mother, who reluctanly becomes an activist in British women's suffrage movement.

Related Women's Issues Documentaries

See also Anatomy and Destiny
  • Business of being born 
    ​DVD 4811 (2008, 84 min.) An investigation of the way America gives birth, ranging from natural child birth under the guidance of midwives to invasive procedures in hospitals. Includes the filming of the delivery of producer Ricki Lake's own baby. Lake is a former Ithaca College student.
  • The Clitoris
    DVD 6033 (2003, 60 min.) An offbeat documentary that blends graphic imagery, animation, media images, and interviews to explore female sexuality, focusing on the clitoris.
  • Inside her sex
    DVD 10539 (2014, 69 min.) explores female sexuality and shame through the eyes of three women from different walks of life.
  • The Motherhood archives
    DVD 9945 (2013) A haunting and lyrical essay film excavating hidden histories of childbirth in the twentieth century, using an extraordinary trove of over 100 different sources.
  • Sex, female: women talking about sex
    DVD 1885 (2005, 59 min.) The title reveals the content -- the film is a presentation of free-spirited discussions by women about sex.
Children and Teens
  • Girl rising DVD (2013, 104 min.) A film about the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change the world told through the stories of nine girls from around the world.
  • Going on 13
    DVD 6958 (2008, 73 min.) Chronicles four girls' coming of age as they mature from little girls to young women. The film focuses on issues of school, family, friends, and identity.
  • Grace, Milly, Lucy-- child soldiers 
    DVD 9293 (2010, 73 min.) The story of three girl soldiers of Uganda and their struggles once they returned from captivity
  • It's a boy!
    DVD 6506 (2008, 30 min.) Examines and exposes sex preselection and parental preferences in India.
  • Mohawk girls
    DVD 4668 (2005, 53 min.) Chronicles two years in the lives of three Mohawk teenagers on a Canadian reservation. Filmed by a woman who returned to the reservation ten years after she had left.
  • Purity myth: the virginity movement's war against women
    DVD 8465 (2011, 45 min.) An examination of why the United States is obsessed with virginity and the overt and covert ways our society links a woman's worth to her sexuality.
  • These girls
    DVD 3360 (2006, 68 min.) Follows a band of teenage girls living on the streets of Cairo.
  • Tomboys
    DVD 2278 (2004, 28 min.) Answers the question "Are tomboys tamed once they grow up?" as it addresses gender identity.
  • Wired for sex, lies and power trips: It's a teen's world
    DVD 7206 (2009, 45 min.) An examination of the culture of sexual harassment and bullying among adolescents, especially girls. The film follows three different groups of culturally diverse teenagers.
Rape and Sexual Assault
  • After Tiller 
    DVD 1926 (2013, 88 min.) Explores the subject of abortions in the wake of the 2009 assassination of practitioner Dr. George Tiller.
  • Defending our lives
    DVD 5855 (1993, 30 min.) Explores domestic violence in this country, featuring the personal testimonies of four women imprisoned for killing their batterer
  • Greatest silence: Rape in the Congo
    DVD 5936 (2007, 76 min.) Tells the story and interviews a few of tens of thousands of women and girls who have been systematically raped, mutilated and tortured when their country was at war.
  • The hunting ground
    DVD (2015, 102 min.) An exposé of rape crimes on U.S. college campuses.
  • Invisible war
    DVD 6904 (2012, 97 min.) An investigative documentary about the epidemic of rape within the U.S. military. Follows the stories of several idealistic young servicewomen who were raped and then betrayed by their own officers when they courageously came forward to report.
  • It was rape
    DVD 1514 (2013, 60 min.) Eight women tell their diverse personal stories of sexual assault.
  • Rape is
    DVD 570 (2005, 32 min.) Looks at rape from a global and historical perspective, focusing on domestic cultural conditions surrounding the crime.
Patriarchy and Patriarchal Abuse
  • Generation M 
    DVD 4132 (2008, 60 min.) Tracks the destructive dynamics of misogyny across a broad and disturbing range of media phenomena. 
  • Quest for honor
    DVD 8573 (2009, 67 min.) Describes the practice of "honor killing" of women by male relatives for actions deemed dishonorable to their families in Kurdistan, Iraq, and highlights efforts by Kurdish activists to end the practice.
  • Shackled women
    DVD 2614 (2004, 41 min.) Assesses second- and third-world abuses of women’s rights by the male establishment—and examines how female collaboration sometimes contributes to their perpetuation.
  • Warrior marks
    DVD 2187 (2005, 54 min.) A documentary about female genital mutilation in Africa that Includes interviews with "victims, activists against female circumcision, and circumcisers."
  • Umoja; no men allowed
    DVD 8287 (2010, 32 min.) Tells the life-changing story of a group of impoverished tribal Samburu women in Northern Kenya who turn age-old patriarchy on its head. 
Black women
  • Dark girls
    DVD 1467 (2011, 73 min.) Explores the prejudices dark-skinned women face throughout the world, addressing issues of sexism, racism, and self-esteem.
  • Lip
    DVD 6100 (1999, 11 min.) Makes that case that black actresses, in the era when they were only allowed to play maids, were able to make the most of the narrow margin Hollywood has allowed them.
  • Locations of the m/othership: black women as fugitive archetype of resistance
    DVD 9202 (2009, 20 min.) Avant-garde film incorporating music, poetry and visuals to explore aspects of Black women.
  • Nice colored girls
    DVD 8396 (1987, 26 min.) This film juxtaposes excerpts from 16th century sailor’s journals with current day scenes to highlight sexual exploitation of native Australian women then and now.
Employment and Workplace
  • After I pick the fruit
  • DVD 1890 (2012, 93 min.) Follows five immigrant female farm workers, over a ten-year period.
  • Fast food women
    DVD 9034 (1991, 28 min.) Examines the working conditions and looks at the lives of the women who prepare the food at four different fast food restaurants in eastern Kentucky.
  • Phantom of the operator
    DVD 1861 (2004, 66 min.) Presents the story of female telephone operators' central place in the development of global communications.
  • September issue
    DVD 6882 (2009, 90 min.) Something of a documentary version of The Devil Wears Prada, featuring Vogue and its editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.
  • The Grey area: feminism behind bars
    DVD 9708 (2012, 65 min.) Inmates at a maximum security women's prison share their diverse experiences with motherhood, drug addiction, sexual abuse, and life in prison. 
  • Mothers of Bedford
    DVD 6380 (2013, 134 min.) Featuring women inmates of the Bedford Hills maximum security prison in Westchester, NY, this documentary explores how mothers cope with their separation from their children.
Sex work
  • Performing the border
    DVD 6097 (1999, 42 min.) Investigates the growing impact of the global economy on Mexican women who live and work in the area, the sexualization of the border through labor division, prostitution, and sexual violence.
  • Price of sex
    DVD 8572 (2011, 73 min.) An expose of the dark side of immigration revealong the experiences of Eastern European women forced into prostitution.
  • Women outside: Korean women and the U.S. military
    DVD 3518 (1995, 52 min.) Documentary on young South Korean women who work in sex related enterprises adjacent to American military bases in South Korea. Also explores the lives of Korean American women who came to the United States as wives of American servicemen. 
  • Writing desire 
    DVD 4774 (2001, 26 min.) A meditation on the gender inequalities of internet voyeurism and sexual consumerism. 
  • You must know about me: Rights, not violence, for sex workers in Macedonia  
    DVD 7468 (2009) A first-hand account of sex workers' experiences and aspirations off and on the streets of Macedonia.
  • Pornland : how the porn industry has hijacked our sexuality
    DVD 10170 (2014, 35 min.) Film based on anti-porn feminist Gail Dines, who argues that the dominant images and stories disseminated by the pornography industry undermines equality and encourages violence against women.
  • The price of pleasure: pornography, sexuality & relationships
    DVD 6028 (2008, 56 min.) This eye-opening and disturbing film places the voices of critics, producers, and performers alongside the observations of men and women as they candidly discuss the role pornography has played in shaping their sexual imaginations and relationships.
  • Sext up kids
    DVD 8848 (2012, 42 min.) Explores how the bombardment of commercial sexual appeals has transformed our culture and our very notion of childhood.
Social Activists
  • Anne Braden: southern patriot 
  • DVD 3834 (2012, 77 min) A first person documentary about the American civil rights leader. Braden hailed by Martin Luther King as a white southerner whose rejection of her segregationist upbringing was "eloquent and prophetic." Braden's story explores not only the dangers of racism and political repression but also the power of a woman's life spent in commitment to social justice.
  • Home of the brave
    DVD 3760 (2003, 75 min.) Documentary on the white civil rights activist and mother of five, Viola Liuzzo, who was murdered in 1965 as she campaigned for black suffrage in Alabama.
  • Made in L.A. = Hecho en Los Angeles
    DVD 5565 (2007, 70 min) Traces the transformation of three Latina garment workers on the fault lines of global economic change who decide they must resist. 
  • Maid in America
    DVD 2021 (2004, 58 min.) Described as "An intimate look into the lives of three Latina immigrants working as nannies and housekeepers in Los Angeles, three of the nearly 100,000 domestic workers living in that city today."
  • Pink Ribbons, Inc.
    DVD 8932 (2012, 98 min.) Exposes the Pink ribbon campaign as something that may make people feel good, but provides little benefit to women diagnosed with breast cancer but a great deal to companies that profit from their pink marketing campaigns.
  • The shape of water
    DVD 3890 (2006, 70 min.) Follows the efforts of women political activists in four countries (Brazil, India, Israel & Senegal) to effect positive change.