Love Like Poison : Best Female Directors

This week sees the release of LOVE LIKE POISON, a coming-of-age drama which skillfully combines sexual frankness with a captivating sense of innocence, was a surprise, yet deserved, critical hit at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.

The film comes from first-time director Katell Quillévéré, who having only just entered her thirties, many are now predicting big things from. Cool, young and very French, Quillévéré is just one of a new generation of female film directors equalling up the cinematic gender balance. And to mark Love Like Poison’s release, we look down the best girls behind the camera...

Kathryn Bigelow
Bigelow place in history is assured, being the first woman to ever win the best director Oscar, when The Hurt Locker pipped Avatar last year. However, she already had great respect from those in the know, due to her tough, stylish and very masculine body of work, including underrated classics such Near Dark and Strange Days. Plus she directed Point Break, which more than enough for us!

Sofia Coppola
Born into Hollywood royalty – her Dad directed The Godfather, her brother Roman makes videos for The Strokes and she can count both Nicholas Cage and Jason Schwartzman as cousins – Coppola raised eyebrows with her debut The Virgin Suicides, and hit the big time with a career best turns Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Lost In Translation. Her more recent films have been less favourably received but you still feel she’s got at least another masterpiece to come.

Andrea Arnold
Arnold started out as an actress, appearing on kids TV in the 80s. However, he debut short Wasp, featuring Danny Dyer of all people , won the Oscar for Best Live Action short, and her first feature Red Road pocketed the 2006 Cannes Jury Prize. Fish Tank, the tale of a teenage dancer trying to escape her council estate received similar acclaim and she’s presently putting the finishing touches to Bronte adaptation Wuthering Height featuring Skins star Kaya Scodelario.

Debra Granik
Granik’s first film Down To The Bone, starring Up In The Air and Source Code’s Vera Farmiga, garners critical acclaim, but it’s unlikely you’ve even heard of it (you should seek it out thought). It’s Granik’s sophomore effort Winter’s Bone that’s put on her on the map. Lead Jennifer Loawerence received an Oscar nod for her role in the social-realist-hillbilly-noir-drama and Granik is now definitely a name to watch.

Gurinder Chadha
A pioneering voice not only for female film makers but also British Asians, Chadha got attention with Bhahji On The Beach and then burst through with the mega hit Bend It Like Beckham. Her films are unashamedly mainstream and accessible, but never shy away from dealing with the darker aspects of family life.

Claire Denis
Without a doubt one of the strongest and most respected voices in world cinema, Denis was born in France but raised in Africa, and these experiences fuelled her semi-autobiographical debut Chocolat. The theme of colonialism and immigration has also continued throughout her work, up to and including her latest film White Materials. Yet that’s by far the only things she’s capable of and Trouble Every Day is still probably her best known film, featuring a cannibalistic and mad as ever Vincent Gallo.

Katell Quillévéré
The surprise critical hit of last year’s Cannes festival, Quillévéré’s debut Love Like Poison came out of nowhere to overshadow most of the films in competition. A dark tale of a teenage girl coming of age in a picturesque French village and questioning her faith, it might sound like a million other French arty flicks, but is actually a fresh, rebellious and highly original one of a kind. And it has fantastic use of Radiohead. Quillévéré is definitely a name to watch.

LOVE LIKE POISON is in cinemas 13 May