Women in Film at SFF

If you're hungry for more women's stories, you'll be delighted by the array of female-led films on offer. See documentaries about influencers and cultural icons, and feature films with strong, interesting female characters from all walks of life.

3000 Nights

Documentarian Mai Masri's first fiction film is the inspiring story of a Palestinian schoolteacher finding hope and strength against all odds while serving a long prison sentence.

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)

In her Oscar-winning performance, Ellen Burstyn plays a young widow eager to re-capture her childhood. Harvey Keitel, Kris Kristofferson and Jodie Foster co-star in this stylish melodrama.

Alice in Earnestland

This decade's answer to Korea's blackest comedies, Alice in Earnestland (Best Korean Feature, Jeonju 2015) presents one woman versus the system as a theatre-of-cruelty blast.

Angry Indian Goddesses

Dubbed India's answer to Bridesmaids, this female buddy movie from acclaimed director Pan Nalin (Samsara) presents a refreshingly frank portrait of women in India today.


Straight from Competition at Cannes, Kleber Mendonça Filho's follow-up to Neighbouring Sounds (SFF 2012) pits a single woman (Sonia Braga) against an aggressive property developer.

Baxter and Me

In this charming documentary, award-winning Sydney director Gillian Leahy (My Life Without Steve) combines her two great passions: dogs and films.

The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe

Four traumatised refugees perform in a challenging theatre production about their lives: the film debut of theatre director Ros Horin.

Certain Women

An evocative and poetic character study of three Montana women, the new film by Kelly Reichardt (Meek's Cutoff, Wendy and Lucy) stars Laura Dern, Michelle Williams and Kristen Stewart.


A group of men duke it out at sea for the title of 'the best', in this hilarious satire of male competitiveness and insecurity, which won Best Film at the BFI London Film Festival.

Constance on the Edge

The challenge of settling in a new country is compounded by memories of the past in this poignant documentary, focusing on a gutsy and big-hearted mother of six living in Wagga Wagga.

Destination Arnold

The moving story of two determined Indigenous women with a dream to make it to the Arnolds – an amateur bodybuilding competition being held in Australia for the first time.

Elvis & Nixon

Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey shine in this comedy based on the real-life meeting between Elvis Presley and President Nixon, when the King made a most unusual proposition.


When Taryn Brumfitt posted an unconventional before-and-after photograph, millions saw it worldwide. In her documentary debut, Brumfitt explores the global issue of body loathing.

Europe, She Loves

An excitingly original hybrid documentary about four young couples in today's Europe, viewed both in and out of the bedroom, by award-winning filmmaker Jan Gassmann.


Cult French filmmaker Lucile Hadžihalilovic's dream-like world, inhabited by women and young boys only, is filled with social, sexual and metaphysical mysteries.

A Flickering Truth

A dedicated band of Afghan cinephiles struggle to preserve their country's vital film history in this impassioned documentary from Pietra Brettkelly (Maori Boy Genius, SFF 2012).

Free to Run

This illuminating record of the recent history of running focuses on the people's fight against antiquated athletic authorities to allow women and amateurs to join in the fun.

Fukushima, mon amour

Funny, touching and beautifully shot, this film charts a friendship between two women processing very different kinds of trauma, in the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster of 2011.

A Good Wife

A Serbian woman lives in a peaceful suburban life until she discovers a video containing shocking footage of war crimes from her beloved husband's paramilitary days.

Girl Asleep

A hit at Adelaide and Berlin Film Festivals, this savvy and surreal picture turns being a confused 14-year-old into a unique world of wonder.

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness

The 2016 Oscar winner for Best Documentary Short, directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, on the subject of honour killings in Pakistan, screens with her 2012 Oscar winner Saving Face.

Heart of a Dog

Artist and musician Laurie Anderson's poignant meditation on love, childhood, stories and belief, is also an ode to her late mother, partner Lou Reed and beloved dog Lolabelle.

Hot Type: 150 Years of the Nation

As the world's printing presses stop rolling, two-time Oscar winner Barbara Kopple takes us inside America's oldest continuously published weekly magazine The Nation.

Hotel Coolgardie

Two Finnish girls on working visas head to a remote WA mining town for a three-month stint behind the bar of the local pub. Shocking, amusing and unexpectedly moving.


The first Filipino film to ever screen at Sydney Film Festival (1979) – and one of the first socially conscious Filipino films ever made – returns to the festival in restored glory.

Janis: Little Girl Blue

Uncompromising rocker Janis Joplin, as you've never known her before: an eye-opening documentary featuring unseen footage, private letters and interviews with band members.

Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

This influential masterpiece, now digitally restored, by the late, great Chantal Akerman focuses on a woman whose ordered life unravels over the course of three days.

A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers

The inspiring story of the Bangladeshi policewomen on peacekeeping, by two-time Oscar-winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Geeta Gandbhir.


Straight from its Cannes Competition berth, Pedro Almodóvar's new film is a dramatic, emotional story of a woman's loves and regrets told in the master's distinctive style.


The winner of this year's Teddy Award at Berlinale: a walk through New York City's voguing ballroom scene, led with swagger by gatekeeper Twiggy Pucci Garçon.


Indie darling Jena Malone and rising star Riley Keough shine in this exploration of the ambiguous close bond between a lonely soft-spoken woman and her free-spirited friend.

Love & Friendship

A strong cast and a deft touch by director Whit Stillman bring the romantic entanglements of an early Jane Austen novella to vibrant life in this jubilant modern comedy of manners.

The Lure

This unique Polish romance-horror-mermaid-musical defies classification and deservedly won the Special Jury Award for Unique Vision and Design at Sundance 2016.

Maggie's Plan

Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke and Julianne Moore star in this witty comedy about modern relationships from writer-director Rebecca Miller (The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, SFF 2009).

Miss Impossible

“Sophie is good at school and Mum's thrilled. Jessica has her boyfriend… Me? I dunno. A void. I suck.” So says Aurore, a 13 year-old with no time for life's boring bits.

Miss Sharon Jones!

The life and music of R&B queen Sharon Jones: a heartfelt documentary, directed by two-time Oscar winner for Best Documentary Barbara Kopple (Harlan County, USA; American Dream).

A Monster With a Thousand Heads

Pushed to her limit, a woman goes up against a faceless and corrupt bureaucracy to save her husband's life in this clever and frenetic Mexican thriller.


Winner of a Cannes Directors' Fortnight prize, four Césars and an Oscar nomination, this Turkish gem is a powerful portrait of sisterhood.

National Bird

The US drone program, as seen from the point of view of three whistle-blowing former Air Force analysts: more chilling and sensational than anything Hollywood could imagine.

No Home Movie

The final film by influential Belgian director Chantal Akerman (Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, 1975) is a profoundly moving mother-and-daughter portrait.

The Opposition

CANCELLED: A David-and-Goliath battle between the residents of the Paga Hill settlement, Port Moresby, and a development company with plans for an international hotel and marina.

The Olive Tree

A Spanish film about a woman determined to retrieve her family's recently uprooted ancient olive tree, this beautifully brings together environmental themes and youthful activism.

Our Everyday Life

This powerful Bosnian drama, focusing on a middle class Sarajevo family who are drawn together in a time of tragedy, is both culturally specific and entirely universal.

Presenting Princess Shaw

An unlikely viral sensation is born when YouTube mash-up artist Kutiman encounters a troubled New Orleans singer, in this uplifting documentary from Israeli director Ido Haar.


In this funny and insightful look at immigration and arranged marriage, a young Filipino woman relocates to a fishing village in Denmark to wed a middle-aged widower.

Saving Face

Obaid-Chinoy's first Oscar-winner, Saving Face, on the subject of acid attacks on women in Pakistan, will screen in this double-bill introduced by the filmmaker.

Strike a Pose

25 years after the controversial documentary In Bed with Madonna, the 'Blond Ambition' dancers – now out of the celebrity spotlight – are re-united and re-exposed.


This year's winner of the world documentary Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance is the story of how a gutsy Afghani refugee's love of rap music changed her life.

Sunset Song

Legendary British director Terence Davies offers a richly cinematic take on a classic of Scottish literature, starring model turned actress Agyness Deyn and Peter Mullan.

Suzy & the Simple Man

The ‘simple' life is never easy! A love story and a candid portrait, eight years in the making, of Suzy and her adventurer husband Jon Muir living off the land in regional Australia.

Thank You for Bombing

In Barbara Eder's absorbing study of journalistic integrity and its price, three war correspondents face the hardships of working in conflict-stricken areas.


This absorbing exposé of Anthony ‘sexting scandal' Weiner's 2013 New York mayoral campaign won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

What's in the Darkness

A murder mystery set in a small Northern Chinese town that depicts a schoolgirl's burgeoning sexuality as she takes a serial-killer investigation into her own hands.

White Girl

Sex, drugs, race relations and gender politics in New York combine, in this provocative semi-autobiographical debut feature, which rocked the Sundance Film Festival.


In this provocative and daring German drama, a lonely young woman forms an uncomfortably close relationship with a wolf she discovers in the woods.