Flicks on Feminism and Empowerment

Vivian Maier self portrait

Vivian Maier, Self-portrait, New York, 1953. Image from: https://www.pinterest.cl/pin/655484920742648932/


Looking for a good movie to watch this weekend but struggling to find a feminist film under the enormous pile of “classics” and Netflix recommendations? We’ve got you covered with some of the best flicks on feminism and empowerment.

Hidden Figures (2016)

“Just ’cause it’s the way, doesn’t make it right, understand?”

Still from film "Hidden Figures."

HIDDEN FIGURES, from left: Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, 2017. ph: Hopper Stone /TM and © copyright Fox 2000 Pictures. All rights reserved./Courtesy Everett Collection. Image from: https://time.com/4605629/hidden-figures-movie-review/

This story follows a group of three Black scientists and mathematicians who joined NASA to work on space travel projects during the Cold War. Facing immense racial and gendered discrimination, these three women show active resistance as they fight for their civil rights in a white, male-dominated industry, all while trying to launch a man into space.

Suffragette (2015)

“We are fighting for a time in which every little girl born into the world will have an equal chance with her brothers. Never underestimate the power we women have to define our own destinies.”

Image from "Suffragette" film

Suffragette (2015). Image from: https://ttin.uk/suffragette

Suffragette is the story of British women’s relentless struggle for the right to vote a century ago. The housewives who witness the futility of peaceful protest decide to sacrifice everything they have to fight for their voices to be heard.

On the Basis of Sex (2018)

“Our sons and daughters are barred by law from opportunities based on assumptions about their abilities. How could they ever disprove these assumptions, if laws like Section 214 are allowed to stand?”

Still from "On the Basis of Sex" film

Felicity Jones stars as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in “ON THE BASIS OF SEX.”

The film tells the true story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice. A fierce fighter of equal rights with a historic career that changed the political course of feminism in the U.S – a must-see film.

Bend it Like Beckham (2002)

“If I can’t tell you what I want now, then I’ll never be happy, whatever I do.” 

Still from film "Bend it Like Beckham."

Still from “Bend it Like Beckham” (2002). Image from: https://ew.com/movies/2018/04/05/bend-it-like-beckham-oral-history/

This classic follows the journey of Jess Bhamra, an Indian-British 18-year-old who dreams of becoming a professional soccer player. The film details the complications she faces in her quest to play in the big league despite her family’s strong disapproval.

Little Women (2019)

“Women. They have minds and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty. And I’m so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it.”

Still from film "Little Women"

Still from “Little Women” (2019). Image from: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/23/movies/little-women-review.html

Following the end of the American Civil War, Jo March tells the life story of her four sisters through her memoir. The story focuses on making choices to do with love and ambition, ultimately deciding what they want to do with their lives as women in the 19th century.

9 to 5 (1980)

“I’ll tell you what I’m talking about; I’m no girl, I’m a woman. I’m not your wife… OR your mother.”

Still from the film "9 to 5"

Still from the film “9 to 5” (1980). Image from: https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/movie-9-to-5-film-dolly-parton_l_5db6fa34e4b079eb95a7299a

9 to 5 follows the experiences of three employees who tackle the sexist standards of the workplace in the 1970s. They band together to flip the script on their bigoted, narcissistic, misogynistic boss.

Desert Flower (2009)

“My mother named me after a miracle of nature: Waris means desert flower. The desert flower blooms in a barren environment where few living things can survive.”

Still from the film "Desert Flower."

Still from “Desert Flower” (2009). Image from: https://www5.the123movies.eu/desert-flower-2009/

Based on the life of Waris Dirie,  Desert Flower is a film about how she became a top international supermodel and humanitarian. Born in Somalia, she flees at 13 to London where a photographer and agent discover her at the McDonald’s restaurant she works at. In 1997, Waris Dirie goes on to become a UN spokeswoman against female genital mutilation, a practice still prominent in many parts of the world.

Ride Like A Girl (2019)

“I just wanted to say that everyone else can get stuffed, ‘cause they think women aren’t strong enough, but we just beat the world.”

"Ride Like A Girl (2019)" Film Poster

“Ride Like A Girl (2019)” Film Poster. Image from: https://pelicanmagazine.com.au/2019/09/26/ride-like-a-girl-review/

Another true story, this inspirational film tells the story of Michelle Payne and how she became the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup despite the incredible odds stacked against her.

Finding Vivian Maier (2013)

“She didn’t have these measures of status that people aspire to, but she didn’t have to compromise one bit. She did what she wanted is that she got the life she wanted. She had it.”

Image of Vivian Maier

Image of Vivian Maier. Image from: http://www.dearcastandcrew.com/content/2015/2/2/finding-vivian-maier.html

The documentary Finding Vivian Maier is the story of an anonymous photographer whose contributions were not recognised in her lifetime. The film reveals the two sides of her life: as a talented but anonymous nanny for 40 years, and after her death, the woman who had left behind more than 100,000 negatives of Chicago street scenes. The negatives came to light in 2007 after being auctioned off by filmmaker John Maloof and the film details his journey of uncovering the mystery that was Vivian.

Lady Bird (2017)

“I want you to be the best version of yourself you can be.”

Still from the film "Lady Bird."

Still from “Lady Bird” (2013). Image from: https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/film/2018/02/lady-bird-fit-stand-beside-most-glittering-examples-female-coming-age-films

This film describes the story of Lady Bird (Christine), a 17-year-old growing up in Sacramento, California. The story takes us on a journey of what it’s like to be full of passion and ambition while experiencing various setbacks including but not limited to family troubles and terrible boyfriends. 

Let us know if we’ve missed your favourite feminist movie! Email us at [email protected].


Amelia is an intern at Rosie and a lover of comedy, philosophy and history.

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