woman-made films
Empowering Girls, Women in Film & TV

Woman-Made Films About Mental Health

listen when girls talkMay is Mental Health Awareness Month

To increase awareness of the fact that, according to NAMI, one in five teens experiences some form of mental illness, I’ve put together a list of female-directed, co-directed, written or co-written films that deal with mental illness, whether as the central theme or in relation to the plot.

Each one of these woman-made films about mental health presents an opportunity for parents and their teen daughters to discuss the impact of mental illness on families and communities. For example, in Infinitely Polar Bear, a father with bipolar disorder becomes the main caregiver for his daughters while his wife moves away to study for her MBA. This causes the family to negotiate both the absence of the mother and the father’s illness. In Sweetie, the mental illness of one sister dominates the family. In Horse Girl, a young woman’s life turns upside down as her psychosis deepens and as a result, her behavior becomes more and more inexplicable.

The way in which media portrays women and girls is crucial to their mental and emotional health. “The specific mental health consequences of extended exposure to portrayals of unrealistic and unhealthy behaviors of girls and women may not be clear, but some advocates see enough data to cause concern and to take action” Psychiatric News, 12/2010.

Woman-made films

It’s important to watch women-made films about this topic. The way in which mental illness has been defined, and therefore depicted in films, has traditionally been through the male perspective. Women-made films promote a new understanding of how we recognize, understand and treat mental illness.


  • Sweetie, 1989, dir. Jane Campion, rated R
  • An Angel at My Table, 1990, dir. Jane Campion, rated R
  • Eve’s Bayou, 1997, dir. Kasi Lemmons, rated R
  • The Virgin Suicides, 1999, dir. Sofia Coppola, rated R
  • 28 Days, 2000, Betty Thomas, rated PG-13
  • Little Miss Sunshine, 2006, co-dir. Valerie Faris, rated R
  • Lars & the Real Girl, 2007, screenplay by Nancy Oliver, rated PG-13
  • Frozen 1 & 2, 2013 & 2019, co-dir. Jennifer Lee, rated PG
  • Infinitely Polar Bear, 2014, dir. Maya Forbes, rated R
  • Welcome to Me, 2014, dir. Shira Piven, rated R
  • Horse Girl, 2020, screenplay by Jeff Baena and Alison Brie, rated R


Many more films about mental illness exist than the ones listed here, and more than a few of those feature women and girls. Such a lack of female directors exists that it took some time to compile the list for this blog post!

Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.


women filmmakers of the pacific northwest
Announcements, Coronavirus Creativity Guide, Girls' Voices Matters Videos, Women in Film & TV

Women Filmmakers of the Pacific Northwest

We started planning for Women’s History Month 2020 in September 2019: researching our presentation, “Women Filmmakers of the Pacific Northwest,” grant-writing, marketing, contacting schools, libraries and public places, and rehearsing. By February we had our schedule set up to show WFPNW at nine locations in and around Lane County.

We made it to five. In mid-March, the coronavirus triggered a statewide shutdown. For the sake of public safety, we cancelled our remaining dates.

Since then, we’ve been working on an online version, and I’m happy to announce that “Women Filmmakers of the Pacific Northwest” is now available for viewing. Big thanks go to Claire Graman, who researched, created and narrated the presentation.

Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.

the corona virus outbreak
Announcements, Women in Film & TV

Girls’ Voices Matter receives Oregon Cultural Trust Grant

I’m very happy to report that Girls’ Voices Matter has received a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust! The grant will help us bring our program, “Women Filmmakers of the Pacific Northwest,” to libraries and other public spaces around Lane County.

Here’s our schedule so far:

Monday, March 2, 4:30-5:00 – Ophelia’s Place, Eugene

Tuesday, March 3, 4:30-5:30 – Creswell Library, Creswell

Wednesday, March 4, 4:30-5:30 – Cottage Grove Library, Cottage Grove

Saturday, March 7, 2:00-4:30 – Springfield Library, Springfield. Come a join us for a fun afternoon with popcorn and pizza as we watch American Teen, directed by Nanette Burstein, followed by our presentation!

Tuesday, March 10, 6:00-7:00 pm – Eugene Library, Singer Room (second floor), Downtown Branch

Thursday, March 12, 7:00-8:00 pm – South Eugene High School

Thursday, March 19, 9:00-10:00 am – Sweet Home High School, Sweet Home

Tuesday, March 24, 6:30-7:30 pm – Fern Ridge Library, Veneta

Tuesday, March 31, 7:00-8:00 pm – Cascade Manor, Eugene

We’ll be adding more venues, so check back or subscribe to the blog.


If you would like to have Girls’ Voices Matter bring our program to your school, library or community center, please contact Erica Goss, Director

The program is free and open to adults and teens.

Hope to see you there!

Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.

We wish to thank the Oregon Cultural Trust for their support of “Women Filmmakers of the Pacific Northwest.”

We believe in girls.

Female filmmakers from 1910-today
Announcements, Empowering Girls, Women in Film & TV

Visionaries: Female Filmmakers 1910-Today

Screen Shot 2019-01-28 at 2.50.36 PMI’m happy to share Visionaries: Female Filmmakers 1910-Today. Girls’ Voices Matter staff member Kacie Clark researched and wrote this compelling and interesting account of eight important women in film. From Alice Guy Blache, born in 1873, who started her own film company in 1910, to Best Picture winner, director Katherine Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) these women have broken barriers and created some of the most memorable work in film today. We hope this document will inspire you!

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Women in Film & TV

15 Female-directed Films


Here’s a list of fifteen feature films directed by women, debuting in 2018. Some are already out, and some are still coming:

  1. The Strange Ones
  2. The Party
  3. A Wrinkle in Time
  4. What They Had
  5. Blockers
  6. The Rider
  7. Zama
  8. I Feel Pretty
  9. The Spy Who Dumped Me
  10. Barbie
  11. The Nightingale
  12. The Darkest Minds
  13. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  14. Mulan (live action version)
  15. Mary, Queen of Scots

I’m going to see them all!

Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.

Empowering Girls, Women in Film & TV

Reel Grrls of Seattle!

A Pacific Northwest original.

From the website:

Reel Grrls equips and empowers girls ages 11 to 21 to engage critically and creatively with digital media to create positive social change. Reel Grrls also provides media literacy training to help grrls, gender non-conforming youth, and male allies from diverse communities interpret and respond to the flood of gendered and racialized images and messages young people encounter in our media saturated world.


Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.