Nowadays, women are taking center stage and becoming their own heroes. We love movies that make us feel empowered and we at Catharsis Productions are proud supporters of anything that motivates strong women to keep breaking barriers. As we keep celebrating Women’s History month we want to share some of the movies we find inspiring and that will make you feel proud to be a woman.
The Color Purple (1985)
Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker, The Color Purple follows the life and trials of a young black woman, Celie Johnson, who is trying her best to find herself after years of abuse from the men in her life. Through some remarkable friendships Celie slowly learns to stand up for herself. This movie talks about racism, sexism, and male dominance. Keep your tissues close, you will need them.
Thelma & Louise (1991)
Probably by many seen as the most feminist movie of it’s time, Thelma & Louise remains a popular movie, even 26 years later. The plot revolves around the consequences of an attempted rape and the fact (the one that makes it feel so disappointingly relevant today) that is the women’s recognition that they can’t trust the law, because the law doesn’t trust them. A powerful road-movie embracing third-wave feminism.
Muriel’s wedding (1994)
Muriel struggles with insecurities about her looks and the relationships she has with her family and friends. She’s unhappy and the only outlet she has are her ABBA songs. Enter Rhonda, a quirky, carefree woman who turns her world upside down. This movie makes fun of ‘picture perfect’ models and shows that the “ideal life” doesn’t exist. On top of that, this movie is great for ABBA-lovers.
Based on the legend of Fa Mulan, this animated feature film follows Mulan as she impersonates a man to take her father’s place during the battle against the Hun. A movie about a strong girl who sees no boundaries and has her heart set on proving that anything is possible.
Erin Brockovich – 2000
An unemployed single mother becomes a legal assistant and almost single-handedly brings down a California power company accused of polluting a city’s water supply. Aside from the awesome plot, there were some great moments in this movie that show how misogyny can be genderless and how beauty is both a blessing and a curse.
Real Women Have Curves – 2002
Starring one of our favorite Latinas, America Ferrera, and Directed by Paricia Cardoso, this movie is both empowering and entertaining. It tells the story of Ana, a Mexican-American teen struggling against her environment and family expectations. She learns to embrace her body, her self, and her own personal aspirations, in spite of the pressure she receives from the world around her.
The Help – 2011
An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African American maids’ point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis. Even though The Help is depicted during the Jim Crow-era Mississipi, the movie isn’t intended to be so much about the ugliness of that time but an optimistic, touching story about the ability of people to love one another even when they’re surrounded by hatred.
In A World – 2013
Do you like Lake Bell? We do! And so it happens that not only is she the lead in this movie, but she also wrote and directed it as well. In the film, her character, Carol, is trying to break the glass ceiling and become the first woman to voice the line “In a world…” in a movie trailer. The movie takes a smart look at sexism in the movie industry and what it takes to become the voice of a generation of movie goers.
Tangerine – 2015
This bold and hilarious film tells the story of a transgender sex worker who finds out her boyfriend has been cheating on her. Tangerine represents a major leap for transgender people on film and it makes a good job at presenting the main characters to mainstream audiences in a pop culture way, so that they could identify with them. That’s how you reach the mainstream And yes, it was also shot entirely on a mobile phone, can you believe it?
Directed by a Julie Taymor this is an inspiring movie that tells the story of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. She lived a bold and uncompromising life as a political, artistic, and sexual revolutionary. If the only thing you know about her is that she painted, then get ready to be awed by her fight and achievements.
Suffragette – 2015
Suffragette is the story of the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement. The movie depicts historical figures and fictional characters interacting as they struggle to get women the vote in Britain. A great movie that reminds us to be grateful to those women who ensured our right to vote.
Lemonade – 2016
Okay, we know this is not a movie, but we though Beyonce’ Lemonade visual album was worth mentioning. The stunning visual masterpiece is an intensely personal journey through doubt, discovery and healing, while also doubling as a love letter to the impenetrable strength of Black women.
Hidden Figures – 2016
If you didn’t catch this awesome movie in the theatres earlier this year, this is a film you’ve got to see! Hidden Figures is the incredible untold story of brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind sending men to space. The characters of the story crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.
We hope you enjoy our suggestions. It was so hard to select just a few options among all the great empowering movies and documentaries (which we did not include here) out there, so in case you’re looking for more options here’s a list of movies to keep you going:
Gone with the Wind (1939), The Stepford wives (1975), 9 to 5 (1980), Fried Green tomatoes (1991), A league of their own (1992), The joy luck club (1993), If these walls could talk (1996), The first wives club (1996), 10 things I hate about you (1999), All about my mother (1999), The Circle (Dayereh) (2000), Legally Blonde (2001), Kandahar (2001), Bend it Like Beckham (2002), Mona Lisa Smile (2003), North Country (2005), Wild (2014), Obvious Child (2014), Zootopia (2016)
Catharsis Productions' mission is to change the world by producing innovative, accessible and research-supported programming that challenges oppressive attitudes and shifts behavior.