Why women-made travel films and documentaries are so crucial to the travel media industry is perhaps so indisputable that the conversation feels somewhat played out. But unfortunately, the number of female producers, directors, and filmmakers pales in comparison to their male counterparts. This disparity and underrepresentation in our industry is not only fundamentally wrong, but it also unavoidably means that story selection and the frame through which these stories are told come from a very narrow perspective.

To work with a limited range of contributors is not only a missed opportunity, but it can be boring. It is essential to diversify the voices of the creators that guide our storytelling in order to provide a fresh perspective and ensure representation. Matador Network is dedicated to elevating the voices of women behind the camera. Our team at Matador Studies, our in-house film production team, includes powerhouse women who lend their voices to our content.

We reached out to our female colleagues, those who have successfully navigated their way into the video media industry, to ask them what their favorite women-made films and documentaries are. Below are those that made the cut.

13th, directed by Ava DuVernay (2016)

“Ava takes a dive into reading between the lines of what the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution says and, even deeper, the open gaps of what it does not say to therefore allow an evolved form of slavery to still be constitutional for over 150 years. She does a beautiful job at assembling current and past laws in place, key historical accounts, and illustrating the ideas of much of what white US American culture says especially about Black people and our prison systems, which keeps specifically white people okay and complacent about our criminal justice system. Ava’s film is boldly truth-seeking and convicting as a white US citizen to keep this topic present in our social circles.”

Jessica Berdeau, Branded Video Editor, Matador Network

The Farewell, directed and written by Lulu Wang (2019)

“First, I love most A24 films as they often take an experimental approach that still manages to strike the balance of remaining engaging to a broad audience. This drama/comedy gives the viewer an intimate look at Asian-American relationships with their more transitional families. This film is important to me because it’s culturally focused and features an Asian cast.”

Kati Hetrick, Associate Creative Director, Matador Network

Knock Down the House, directed, written, and produced by Rachel Lears (2019)

“The movie follows the incredible story about how four female candidates tried to make history in the 2018 midterm elections. I really loved this documentary because I found it shared an important message that for many of us women that a lot of us will fail before we’re able to break the glass ceiling, but that it’s not impossible.”

Alexandra Halky, Supervising Producer, Matador Network

Fed Up, directed and co-written by Stephanie Soechtig (2014)

“[This documentary is] about how the US government knowingly capitalizes and encourages sugar addiction in the standard American diet, and blames the individual for their health issues. Stephanie did especially well at clearing the fog about how our government preys on individuals’ trust to follow their recommended dietary guidelines, rather than recognize the root of many health issues are about regulations and incentives the government gives to corporations. Stephanie’s documentary is a great trailhead to the wide range of the films that cover the toxic relationship between our government and lobbyists which harm the health of individuals and the environment in exchange for power and wealth.”

Jessica Berdeau, Branded Video Editor, Matador Network

Frame by Frame, directed and produced by Alexandra Bimbach and Mo Scarpelli (2015)

“My favorite female-made doc is Frame-by-Frame. Created by a two-woman crew, the film follows the stories of four photojournalists in Afghanistan — a country where photography was made illegal under the Taliban. Watching this film instilled a sense of gratitude for the freedom I have as a photographer and filmmaker to document the world around me. The film was also a reminder that you can make a critically acclaimed piece of work with just a small crew and a small budget.”

Caz Tanner, Manager of Production, Matador Network

What Happened, Miss Simone? directed by Liz Garbus (2015)

“This film is all about the life and legacy of singer Nina Simone. I love this documentary because I knew of Nina Simone’s music, but I wasn’t familiar with her life. She had a difficult life but her music has left a legacy, and I think it’s worth seeing for any music fan out there.”

Alexandra Halky, Supervising Producer, Matador Network

At The Heart of Gold: Inside The USA Gymnastics Scandal, directed by Erin Lee Carr (2019)

“Erin Lee Carr is the powerhouse director behind this film about the sexual assault of the USA gymnastics team by their team doctor. Carr not only tackled a difficult subject with grace and respect for the survivors but did so without allowing it to become about their abuser, creating space for the women’s voices to lead the narrative.”

Doree Simon, Director of Production, Matador Network

Period. End of Sentence. directed by Rayka Zehtabchi (2018)

“Before watching this film, I had no idea just how stigmatized menstruation is in India. Women are taught that their period is dirty. Many men don’t even know what it is! The film follows what one group of women in rural India are doing to change this. They are manufacturing pads, but at the same time, they are educating other women, putting an end to outdated beliefs, and earning an independent living. Zehtabchi captured an eye-opening and inspiring story that needed to be told.”

Jessica Devnani, Video Editor, Matador Network

RBG, directed and produced by Betsy West and Julie Cohen (2018)

“If you need something wholesome and inspirational to cleanse the palate, watch RBG, directed and produced by Betsy West and Julie Cohen. You will be sure to find inspiration in the life and career of the iconic Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”

Sarah Nauer, Manager of Production, Matador Network

Portrait of a Lady on Fire, directed and written by Céline Sciamma (2019)

“To me, this is one of the best foreign-made films to come to the US. It’s a French historical romantic drama that skilfully tackles an affair between a French aristocrat and the artist who was hired to paint her portrait. I love how beautifully the shots have been directed. The lead actresses, Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel, did a phenomenal job.”

Kati Hetrick, Associate Creative Director, Matador Network





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