CINEMA AS RESISTANCE: Women Who Speak Out Through Film

Written By Sabrina Luppi

This was originally posted on our sister website TheNewGrlsClub . Sabrina has curated a fantastic list of films however, this article only includes five. If you enjoy it, please go view the original article.


It feels like a lot of people are finally beginning to recognize the problems with our society and government that many communities within America have been fighting against since it was founded. Government and big business “overlooking” treaty rights and general public interest for the sake of profit is not new. Police brutality, especially as it affects communities of color, is not new. Misogyny, racism, classism, homophobia and general unfounded hatred of “the other” have been curses on humanity for as far back as our records go.

The actions of our government and other oppressive systems over the past… well, honestly forever have been motivating communities and leaders to mobilize for just as long. If the actions of our new administration regime have just recently begun to mobilize you, you are (clearly) not alone. The uprising that is taking place nationwide is powerful, and we have to keep it up.

While marching, contacting representatives and general civil disobedience have proven to be powerful tools of resistance. I think it’s useful to also recognize the impact that cinema can have in educating and inspiring movements. From fictional narratives that serve as metaphors for our society to documentaries that bring to light the perspectives we weren’t exposed to in school, films have been known to help us see things more clearly. [Side note: this just reminded me of one of my favorite quotes, “There is no better way to exercise consciousness than movie-watching, a recursive, reflexive mirroring loop that reveals us to ourselves.” – Jason Silva].

So this week I wanted to share with you some films made by women that express female perspectives on social and political environments. Some of these directors documented movements, some tell the stories of activist leaders, and some told fictional stories of powerful female characters. Maybe this will inspire you to create some art of your own or to support the people who are already working on projects like these. Either way, the act of listening to and sharing non-hegemonic perspectives is itself an act of resistance.


A Quiet Inquisition (2014)
Directed by Alessandra Zeka and Holen Sabrina Kahn


Even the trailer for this documentary, which follows OBGYN Dr. Carla Cerrato in Nicaragua, is an important message regarding the dangers that regulating women’s bodies impose on us. Stories like these emphasize the NECESSITY of pro-choice legislature to protect the right of women to make their own decisions. With so much negative propaganda surrounding Planned Parenthood and what it means to be pro-choice, these stories are important in educating people about the reality of the situation.



Trudell (2005)
Directed by Heather Rae


This documentary tells the story of Native American poet, activist, and leader of the American Indian Movement, John Trudell. Due to the unmitigated erasure Native Americans have faced this film brings much-needed attention to the resistance that has been ongoing on our continent for centuries.





13th (2016)
Directed by Ava DuVernay


DuVernay’s documentary gained a lot of attention this year for answering the question: did the 13th amendment really end slavery? Ava presents the strong argument, supported by what she described in an NPR interview as “nuanced knowledge”, that slavery continues today under the guise of mass incarceration. This is an immediate must-watch if you haven’t already.


Sepideh (2013)
Directed by Berit Madsen


At 16, Sepideh is already passionate about astronomy and dreams of floating in space. As a young woman in Iran, her family’s expectations and traditions clash with her goals. Madsen followed Sepideh for two years documenting her struggle, ambition, and major life-changing moments.


American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs (2013)
Directed by Grace Lee


While filming another project in which filmmaker Grace Lee interviewed other women named Grace Lee from various backgrounds, Lee met Boggs and decided her story warranted a whole documentary of its own. It’s the story of a Chinese-American activist and philosopher who was part of the civil rights and Black Power movements.





This is by no means an extensive list. I encourage everyone to actively seek out films and stories about issues that interest you. There are PLENTY. As intersectional feminists, we must also be committed to educating ourselves and others about the problems that don’t directly affect us. People all over the world are trying to get out important messages through film. Keep in mind the value of supporting their cause either by sharing/promoting, contributing financially or even seeking a cast or crew role. And feel free to add to the list in the comments!