Antonia’s Line (Marleen Gorris, 1993)
In an anonymous Dutch village, a sturdy, strong-willed matriarch looks back upon her life, the generations of family and friends gathered around her table, and ponders the cyclical nature of time. ((Trigger warning: there is a graphic rape scene within the first third of the movie.))
Born in Flames (Lizzie Borden, 1983)
Set ten years after the most peaceful revolution in United States history, a revolution in which a socialist government gains power, this films presents a dystopia in which the issues of many progressive groups – minorities, liberals, gay rights organizations, feminists – are ostensibly dealt with by the government, and yet there are still problems with jobs, with gender issues, with governmental preference and violence. In New York City, in this future time, a group of women decide to organize and mobilize, to take the revolution farther than any man – and many women – ever imagined in their lifetimes.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell, 2001)
A transexual punk rock girl from East Berlin tours the US with her rock band as she tells her life story and follows the ex-boyfriend/bandmate who stole her songs. ((Trigger warning: childhood sexual abuse is discussed throughout the film and one scene is fairly graphic before switching to animation)
India Cabaret (Mira Nair, 1985)
A documentary exploring the “respectable” and “immoral” stereotypes of women in Indian society told from the point of view of 2 strip-tease dances in a cabaret house in Bombay. Broadcast internationally on PBS in the USA, Channel Four in England, and on Swedish, German, Finnish and Zimbabwean television.
Live Nude Girls Unite! (Julia Query and Vicky Funari, 2000)
Julia Query, activist, comedian, lesbian and stripper at a club called the Lusty Lady, put in long hours on stage and in the peep booth along with fellow exotic dancers Decadence, Lolita, and Octopussy. But when faced with no sick leave, unfair demotions, safely and privacy concerns, and racial discrimination, Query and her co-workers decide to organize and unionize the exotic dancers of the Lusty Lady.
Monsoon Wedding (Mira Nair, 2001)
A story set in the modern upper-middle class of India, where telecommunications and a western lifestyle mix with old traditions, like the arranged wedding young Aditi accepts when she ends the affair with a married TV producer. The groom is an Indian living in Texas, and all relatives from both families, some from distant places like Australia, come to New Delhi during the monsoon season to attend the wedding.
The film also includes several subplots: Ria Verma , a cousin of the bride, was sexually abused by her uncle, Lalit’s brother-in-law and the family’s patriarch, Tej Puri , some years earlier and finally speaks out to prevent his abuse of her younger cousin, Aliyah. The wedding contractor PK Dubey falls in love with the family’s maid, Alice . The bride’s brother, Varun, struggles with his father’s disapproval of his longing to be a chef, and his angst at Varun’s lack of conventional Indian masculine characteristics. Ayesha, the youngest marriageable relative of the bride, flirts with Aditi’s cousin Rahul, who has just returned from Melbourne.
Precious (Lee Daniels, 2009)
A vibrant, honest and resoundingly hopeful film about the human capacity to grow and overcome. Set in Harlem in 1987, it is the story of Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe), a sixteen—year—old African—American girl born into a life no one would want. She’s pregnant for the second time by her absent father; at home, she must wait hand and foot on her mother (Mo’Nique), a poisonously angry woman who abuses her emotionally and physically. School is a place of chaos, and Precious has reached the ninth grade with good marks and an awful secret: she can neither read nor write. Precious may sometimes be down, but she is never out. Beneath her impassive expression is a watchful, curious young woman with an inchoate but unshakable sense that other possibilities exist for her. Threatened with expulsion, Precious is offered the chance to transfer to an alternative school, Each One/Teach One. Precious doesn’t know the meaning of “alternative,” but her instincts tell her this is the chance she has been waiting for. In the literacy workshop taught by the patient yet firm Ms. Rain (Paula Patton), Precious begins a journey that will lead her from pain and powerlessness to love and self—determination. ((Trigger warning: several graphic scenes of rape and sexual violence))
Working Girls (Lizzie Borden, 1986)
Molly (Louise Smith), a Yale grad who lives with her lesbian lover, turns tricks to keep food on the table. She approaches each day with fear and loathing, carrying out her responsibilities with crisp, businesslike efficiency. Her coworkers include Gina (Marussia Zach), who hopes to stay a hooker just long enough to finance her own business, and Dawn (Amanda Goodwin), an outspoken college student who harbors dreams of becoming a lawyer. The film covers a single day in the lives of these three ladies, neither judging nor apologizing: a job’s a job, the film seems to be saying, whether it’s punching a clock or rolling in the sack with an elderly stranger. Director Lizzie Borden’s matter-of-fact approach to her material (based on six months’ worth of interviewing genuine prostitutes) places Working Girls head and shoulders above the usual lachrymose “ladies of the evening” drama. The film also begins to explore race issues, with the same removed approach, which some may argue leaves room for reinforcing stereotypes.