While most movie lovers have certain directors whose films they consider to be a must-watch any time they release a new one, we also know that it’s a great feeling when you watch something by an up-and-coming director and love it. All of us want as many cool, intriguing and different movies as possible which showcase the talents and viewpoints of as many different people as possible. To help make sure you’re aware of talented newcomers, we’ve put together a list in celebration of Women’s History Month to help you seek out the work of some women directors who are really starting to make waves at theaters worldwide. So, let’s get to it!
Iris K. Shim
Iris K. Shim has worked a number of jobs behind the scenes in the movie industry during her nearly 20 years in the business, including production assistant, producer, writer, actress, and assistant camera, but it was her feature length directorial debut for the documentary, THE HOUSE OF SUH, which first brought her notable acclaim. The film, which follows the disintegration of a Korean-American family amidst a shocking murder case, was called a “nuanced exploration” by Variety, and may have helped Shim write and direct her upcoming scripted feature film debut, UMMA.
Starring Sandra Oh of “Killing Eve” fame, UMMA is a supernatural horror film that focuses on the quiet farm life of Amanda (Oh) and her daughter (Fivel Stewart), which is soon upended once Amanda receives the ashes of her late mother from Korea. Before long, Amanda is plagued by fears of turning into her own maternal figure, leading to a number of spooky occurrences. UMMA is the first horror film from a major studio to be written and directed by a Korean American woman and also star an actress of Korean descent, and it’s already getting a lot of positive buzz for Shim’s work.
Remind Me UMMA opens March 18
Olivia Newman got her start as a director with the short, BLUE-EYED MARY, in 2009, going on to write and direct the feature film FIRST MATCH in 2018. The film stars Elvire Emanuelle as a teenage girl who’s become far too accustomed to the difficulties of growing up in the foster care system, and decides that the only way back to her estranged father — played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II — is to join her school’s all-boys wrestling team. Newman’s sports drama got many rave reviews, with the Los Angeles Times praising how father-daughter relationships were handled.
Now, Newman has moved on to directing the film adaptation of Delia Owens’ popular mystery novel, WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING. The drama stars Daisy Edgar-Jones — FRESH, “Normal People” — as a young woman who was abandoned by her family as a girl and had to raise herself in the North Carolina marsh of the 1950s, only to become embroiled in a murder case when her fomer lover is killed and she’s seen as one of the main suspects.
Remind Me WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING opens July 22
For nearly two decades, Olivia Wilde was best known as an actress, with roles on series like “The O.C.” and “House,” and in movies such as TRON: LEGACY, COWBOYS & ALIENS and DRINKING BUDDIES helping to make her a very recognizable face in the industry. But, that began to change when Wilde burst onto the scene with her feature length directorial debut, BOOKSMART, in 2019. The coming-of-age buddy comedy focused on two overachieving girls who realize on the eve of graduation that they may have overestimated their need to focus on academics at the expense of all other high school experiences, and decide to try and change that in the one night of school they have left.
BOOKSMART was lauded nearly universally, and led to a number of other directorial offers for Wilde. Her next film, DON’T WORRY DARLING, is a psychological thriller starring an ensemble cast including Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne, Chris Pine and Wilde herself, which will see a 1950s housewife who resides in a supposedly utopian community with her husband begin to worry that those around them are hiding troubling secrets. The film has already generated much buzz and should be one to look out for when it opens on September 23.
Many people really began to take notice of actress Regina King after she won the Oscar® for Best Supporting Actress for 2018's IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, but the five-time Emmy nominee — who won four of those awards — was very recognizable for a list of credits going back to the mid-1980s that included shows like “227,” “The Leftovers” and “American Crime,” and movies such as JERRY MAGUIRE, RAY, THIS CHRISTMAS and MISS CONGENIALITY 2: ARMED & FABULOUS. However, 2020 saw King make her feature directorial debut with ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI, which nabbed her a Golden Globe nod for Best Director.
Now, King has begun working on her follow up, the film BITTER ROOT, which is based on the comic book series of the same name. The Harlem Renaissance-set story deals with a shattered family of formerly great monster hunters who now have to decide whether or not to attempt saving the monsters born from humanity who have become infected by a supernatural force that feeds off of the prejudice of the time, to try stopping an invasion.
After getting her start as a crew member on the short film RED MEAT in 2010, Nia DaCosta has become one of the most watched up-and-coming directors. In 2018, her feature length directorial debut, LITTLE WOODS — which she also wrote, and stars Tessa Thompson and Lily James — received widespread acclaim, with the neo-Western thriller being hailed for its tone, pacing, performances and acting. DaCosta then followed up that impressive work by co-writing and directing the horror update, CANDYMAN, in 2021, leading to even more positive accolades.
With that additional feather in her cap, DaCosta has already stepped behind the lens for the Marvel Cinematic Universe sequel, THE MARVELS. The movie is set to bring Carol Danvers’ (Brie Larson) Captain Marvel back for another adventure, where she’ll be joined once again by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and add newcomers Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), a.k.a. Ms. Marvel, and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) to the high-flying, intergalactic superhero fun, which will certainly be a film to look out for when THE MARVELS opens on February 17, 2023!
These are just a few of the up-and-coming female directors with movies coming along in the next couple of years, so be sure to check out all of your options before heading to AMC Theatres for your next movie night!