top of page

30 female directors to follow

Equal representation onscreen and offscreen has been a hot topic in Hollywood for a while. While numbers are gradually growing, it's up to everyone to make that change. Do you need some help, Hollywood? Here's a list of 30 women directors who are ready to break the glass ceiling with their magnificent work. Get ready- you'll be hearing about them more and more often.

Madeline Rozwat

Madeline is a Los Angeles based writer-director who uses the power of film to capture rich, distinctive worlds from novel and unexpected perspectives. Hailing from San Francisco, California, Madeline double-majored in Psychology and Communication at Northwestern University, then went on to earn her MFA from USC's School of Cinematic Arts. She enjoys telling female-driven stories that inspire conversations about social change and encourage viewers to reflect on taken-for-granted norms. Madeline channels her education, travels, and experience as a Division I student-athlete into stories that highlight the internal tensions and complex relationships of her characters. She has written over a dozen shorts (including the acclaimed Letters From Alcatraz), as well as the feature length screenplay, Police Story. Whenever she sits down to write, she thinks about what voices might lend unique perspectives that the audience might not otherwise have considered. It is Madeline’s hope that by bringing subordinated viewpoints to life and exploring the richness and complexities of their worlds, the audience might walk away thinking a little differently about their own world.

"Letters From Alcatraz" won 6 (!) awards at Festigious in June 2017, including Best Picture and Best Director. The lead judge, Nigel Barber, stated: "This is a well rounded, concise multi layered film that delivers much in a short time frame. It has good pace and the performances are solid. Its heartfelt story is underpinned by a well developed script and gives the viewer a clear context for the characters and their back stories. Beautifully filmed and well edited. Also, the Best Actress award goes to Kate Emerick, the young actress playing Belle, for an outstanding performance.”

"As long as you keep moving forward, your talent and resilience will win out" - Read this interview with Madeline Rozwat

Follow Madeline:

Yiqing Catharine Lin

Catharine Lin is an award winning director currently based in LA. She holds a Masters in Linguistics, and has studied filmmaking at New York Film Academy. Originally from China as a producer, she has already worked on many international projects such as multi-awarded drama series "Empress Ki" with Korean MBC television and opening film of 20th Shanghai International Film Festival “The Chinese Widow” directed by Palme d’Or twice winner Bille August. She has written and directed short films like "Twenty Years After”, "A Midnight Visitor” and “Mr Heart”, and is currently focusing on her feature projects.

"Twenty Years After" won 5 awards at Festigious, including Best Picture and Best Director (December 2017). The lead judge, Lisa Roumain, stated: "It was simply, a perfectly executed short film. It said everything it needed to in the smallest of ways. A masterful team effort... Ms. Lin is a poetic storyteller, creating such a beautiful, deeply moving piece. She was able to tell a lifetime of a story in 10 minutes, showing how deeply humans strive for connection and relevance. She assembled an incredibly talented cast and crew, with wonderful work by Cinematographer Dhruv Lapsia, and Music Composer Alexander Rudd.”

Follow Catharine:

Delphine Montaigne

Born in Lyons. Trained in drama arts in Nice and Paris, France. Delphine Montaigne has been a comedian since age 13. Commercials, documentaries, she has spoken a thousand voices and has incarnated just as many characters. She enjoys the subtle reassurance and tranquility of backstage and dubbing studios. She switches universes, from stages, to sets, to mikes, and has always done so. She never stopped working, in other words, never stopped playing. Encounters and opportunities have progressively drawn new projects. One of which was all about exploring human beings’ relationships dynamics. An obvious focus for an artist. Her growing interest for strange and fascinating reactions of her peers led to another venture in her life. In 2016 directing movies just happened, or so it seemed. Since then the actress directed two films and is now writing two more.

Delphine's directorial debut "DNA of Wild Beasts" won an Honorable Mention: First Time Director at Festigious (March 2018), and Best Indie Film of the Year at Top Shorts 2018. Top Shorts' juror Oliver Yan, stated: "This great short film exudes an independent spiritual film, and at the same time, it has a poetic beauty." The festival founder, Roy Zafrani, added: "DNA of Wild Beasts is an inspiring film with natural and powerful performances by writer-director-lead actress Delphine Montaigne (as detective Lea) and Tanya Mattouk (as Sophie). DNA of Wild Beasts is intriguing, mysterious and thrilling. Beautiful work!”

Follow Delphine:

Pari Antoniou

Pari Antoniou was born in 1982 in Greece. She studies at the Hellenic Cinema & Television School Stavrakos between 2013-2016; Compositing & VFX at Yafka School (2016-2017); and at Focus School of art Photography Video and New Technologies in 2011. In 2017 she completed her graduation film "Vous".

"Vous" is a story is about the hopes and dreams of a girl who is about to pass away, slowly dying just like her country around her ,the beautiful moments are the ones that stay with her until the end. The film is currently attending the festival circuit and has already won 10 international awards including Best Experimental Film at Festigious. It was also nominated for Best Picture award, selected as one of the 10 highest rated films by the Festigious' jury in May 2018..

Follow Pari:

Molly Bookner

Molly is a recent graduate of Tulane University with degrees in English and Digital Media Production. Hailing from New York, she spent many of her earlier years studying acting and auditioning for seemingly everything under the sun. As time passed though, her passions and dreams shifted from being in front of the camera to being behind it, so-to-speak. It wasn't long before she became fascinated by film development and had plans to become a professional screenwriter. Storytelling is at the core of her identity, and after spending the past year writing, directing, and editing her own short film, Molly feels inspired to move to California and make some waves in the entertainment world. Besides writing and filmmaking, Molly loves photography, travelling, and hanging out in adorable coffee shops.

Molly's film, "Endurance", is a powerful dramatic short that centers around two college students; Jenna, a once-championed cyclist now confined to a wheelchair, and Max, a closeted lacrosse player outed by his teammates and bullied relentlessly for being gay. Initially, Max and Jenna endure their struggles alone, but as Max falls further and further into the abyss of depression, Jenna comes along just in time to change his life, and subsequently, her own. "Endurance" won Best Student Film at Festigious (June 2018).

Follow Molly:

Dina Naji

Dina Naji was born and raised in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. She got her bachelor degree in Journalism in King Abdul Aziz University, then moved to Los Angeles, where she got her master degree in Filmmaking. Dina has written, directed, and edited many different short films in Los Angeles. She is experienced in working as a Production Designer on short films and commercials, and has excellent visual awareness and design skills.

Dina's film, "Hind's Case", follows Hind (20), who at a young age, witnessed her father kill her mother and then went on to suffer years of abuse at the hands of her father. When Hind escapes from her abusive home, she gets sent to live in a housing shelter. While there, Hind makes the first friends she’s ever had and enjoys the freedom away from her father. However, when the manager of the housing shelter informs Hind that her father has requested to take her home, Hind decides to take matters into her own hands and get sent to the solitary confinement room in order to join her mother in heaven as she can’t stand the thought of living with her father again.

"Hind's Case" won Best Drama at Festigious (June 2018), as well as an Honorable Mention: Director for Dina Naji.

Follow Dina:

Maria Allred

Maria is an independent filmmaker who resides and creates in Portland, OR. Three of her short films had television premieres on OPB’s Oregon Lens and one on Oregon Art Beat. Her debut feature film, "The Texture of Falling", is now currently in its festival run and has already earned a handful of awards and nominations including, Best Picture, Best Indie Film, Best First Time Director, Best Cinematography, and Best supporting actor-Benjamin Farmer. Since childhood, Maria has passionately studied painting, poetry, creative non-fiction, and various forms of dance. In addition, for nine years she studied Jungian philosophy with author Paul Levy. Not coincidentally, her filmmaking— strongly informed by visual art, music, and movement—is poetic, symbolic, and visually driven.

"The Texture of Falling" won 3 awards at Festigious in November 2017, including Best Indie Feature, Best First Time Director and Best Cinematography.

Follow Maria:

Jennifer Marie

Jennifer Marie is an up and coming film director from New York City. Though she has only been in the film industry for a few years, her first projects have already created buzz in the entertainment and arts community. Her first film, "Evil Is Here", was nominated for multiple awards including Best Director. Her second film, "Please Read.", won an Honorable Mention: Narrative Film at Festigious (October 2017), and is now making a very successful film festival run.

Another film, "Casting Chloe", is a mockumentary about the casting process to find the perfect "Chloe." Dozens of actresses audition to discover who is the perfect fit for the role. The film won Best Comedy at Festigious (May 2018).

Follow Jennifer:

Luisa Novo

Born in Cascavel, Brasil, Luisa Novo graduated in Cinema from the Federal University of Santa Catarina, spending a semester at NYU in 2008 in the Film Studies department. In 2011 she relocated to Los Angeles to continue her education at the New York Film Academy and UCLA, earning certificates in Producing and Business and Management of Entertainment and an MFA in Filmmaking. She has directed a number of short films both in Brazil and the US, focusing on stories from a female perspective and themes like self-image and self worth. She is interested in the struggles women go through arising from the social standards and pressures society puts on them.

Luisa's short film "Becoming Lucy" won Best Drama and Best Actress (Indie Film) at Festigious in October 2017.

Follow Luisa:

Shanming Sally Guo

Shanming Sally Guo is a graphic designer and filmmaker based in New York. She is currently a senior studying at School of Visual Arts. Previously, she has interned for Open ( and freelanced for Nili Lotan ( "Nomads" is Guo's first short film, done in the Project Class during her junior year at SVA.

Nomads won 5 awards at Festigious (June 2017), including Best Narrative Short and Best Ensemble.

Follow Shanming:

Sadie Duarte

Born in Zaragoza (Spain), Sadie Duarte is an award-winning filmmaker, writer/screenwriter and executive producer who holds a B.A. in English Studies at UNED, an M.A. in Textual and Cultural Studies in English Language (British & Hollywood Cinema) at University of Zaragoza and an MA in Film Direction and Production of TV Shows (University San Jorge). She has three novels for young adults published: Alas Para Soñar (Certeza, 2001), Souls of Fire (Libros Certeza, 2013) and Recordando Bethlem (Certeza, 2016). Sadie Duarte has received eleven literary & academic awards and also works as a teacher of English & a translator. In fact, she translated into Spanish Ia Uaro’s book Sydney’s Song (La Canción de Sydney) and wrote the English subtitles for director Jorge Aparicio’s short film Cuatro Veintes (Four by Twenty) and El Morico.

"DMUS" is the first short musical film that Sadie Duarte wrote, directed and produced with two teams working together in Spain and USA. It’s an international project to promote artists from different countries, actors & musicians which has already got many official selections, 17 awards, including Best Indie Filmmaker (Sadie Duarte), Best Score (Jesús Calderón) at Top Shorts and Best Score (Jesús Calderón) at Festigious, Best Ensemble (Honorable Mention) at Los Angeles Film Awards and Best Ensemble at the Actors Awards in Los Angeles.

In May 2017, Sadie wrote, directed and produced the comedy film "Blown Away" (Enchufados) which started touring the festival circuit in November 2017 and stars two Spanish celebrities, comedian Paco Arévalo and award-winning actor/director/producer Secun de la Rosa. For the first time ever, spectators from all over the world can see these two great Spanish artists in a film together! "Blown Away" won Best Comedy and Best Supporting Actor (Roberto Millán) at Festigious (January 2018), as well as Best Ensemble at Top Shorts and Best Duo (Paco Arévalo and Secun de la Rosa) at the Actors Awards.

Follow Sadie: