10 Films by Influential Women

10 Films by Influential Women

In honour of International Women's Day (March 8), we've put together a selection of 10 films directed by strong, influential women. From politics to the environment to the arts, these films by some of Canada's finest filmmakers address the issues that affect us all. So sit back, enjoy and raise a cheer to the women in your life.

  • Flamenco at 5:15
    1983|29 min

    This Oscar®-winning short film is an impressionistic record of a flamenco dance class given to senior students of the National Ballet School of Canada by two great teachers from Spain, Susana and Antonio Robledo. The film shows the beautiful young North American dancers--inspired by the flamenco rhythms and mesmerized by Susana's extraordinary energy--joyously merging with an ancient gypsy culture.

  • If You Love This Planet
    1982|25 min

    This Oscar®-winning short film is comprised of a lecture given to students by outspoken nuclear critic, Dr. Helen Caldicott, president of Physicians for Social Responsibility in the United States. Her message is clear: disarmament cannot be postponed. Archival film footage of the bombing of Hiroshima and images of its survivors seven months after the attack heighten the urgency of her message.

  • Who's Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics
    1995|1 h 34 min

    In this feature-length documentary, Marilyn Waring demystifies the language of economics by defining it as a value system in which all goods and activities are related only to their monetary value. As a result, unpaid work (usually performed by women) is unrecognized while activities that may be environmentally and socially detrimental are deemed productive. To remedy this, Waring maps out an alternative economic vision based on the idea of time as the new currency.

  • The Company of Strangers
    1990|1 h 40 min

    In this feature film, 8 elderly women find themselves stranded when their bus breaks down in the wilderness. With only their wits, memories and some roasted frogs' legs to sustain them, this remarkable group of strangers share their life stories and turn a potential crisis into a magical time of humour, spirit and camaraderie. Featuring non-professional actors and unscripted dialogue, this film dissolves the barrier between fiction and reality, weaving a heart-warming tale of friendship and courage.

  • Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance
    1993|1 h 59 min

    On a July day in 1990, a confrontation propelled Native issues in Kanehsatake and the village of Oka, Quebec, into the international spotlight. Director Alanis Obomsawin spent 78 nerve-wracking days and nights filming the armed stand-off between the Mohawks, the Quebec police and the Canadian army. This powerful documentary takes you right into the action of an age-old Aboriginal struggle. The result is a portrait of the people behind the barricades.

  • In the Shadow of Gold Mountain
    2004|43 min

    Filmmaker Karen Cho travels from Montreal to Vancouver to uncover stories from the last living survivors of the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act, a set of laws imposed to single out the Chinese as unwanted immigrants to Canada from 1885 to 1947. Through a combination of history, poetry and raw emotion, this documentary sheds light on an era that shaped the identity of generations.

  • Finding Dawn
    2006|1 h 13 min

    Acclaimed Métis filmmaker Christine Welsh presents a compelling documentary that puts a human face on a national tragedy: the murders and disappearances of an estimated 500 Aboriginal women in Canada over the past 30 years. This is a journey into the dark heart of Native women's experience in Canada. From Vancouver's Skid Row to the Highway of Tears in northern British Columbia to Saskatoon, this film honours those who have passed and uncovers reasons for hope. Finding Dawn illustrates the deep historical, social and economic factors that contribute to the epidemic of violence against Native women in this country.

  • The Burning Times
    1990|56 min

    This documentary takes an in-depth look at the witch hunts that swept Europe just a few hundred years ago. False accusations and trials led to massive torture and burnings at the stake and ultimately to the destruction of an organic way of life. The film questions whether the widespread violence against women and the neglect of our environment today can be traced back to those times. Part two of a series of three films on women and spirituality, which includes Goddess Remembered and Full Circle.

  • Being Caribou
    2004|1 h 12 min

    In this feature-length documentary, husband and wife team Karsten Heuer (wildlife biologist) and Leanne Allison (environmentalist) follow a herd of 120,000 caribou on foot across 1500 km of Arctic tundra. In following the herd's migration, the couple hopes to raise awareness of the threats to the caribou's survival. Along the way they brave Arctic weather, icy rivers, hordes of mosquitoes and a very hungry grizzly bear. Dramatic footage and video diaries combine to provide an intimate perspective of an epic expedition.

  • Through a Blue Lens
    1999|52 min

    Constable Al Arsenault, along with six other policemen, document the people on their beat to create a powerful film about drug abuse. This group of officers developed a unique relationship with addicts in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. In this documentary, drug addicts talk openly about how they got to the streets and send a powerful message of caution to others about the dangers of drug abuse.