A workers’ rights activist, a movie star-turned-inventor, and a retiring prima ballerina are just a few of the characters at the center of our favorite documentaries by and about women this year. These films — and the women they chronicle — inspired and educated us. They also offered something that’s often ignored in history books: a female perspective. In short, they should be essential viewing.
“Chavela” — Directed by Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi
“Chavela” directors Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi said it best: Chavela Vargas was a “badass butch.” There was a lot that could have prevented the singer from finding success. She began performing as a homeless runaway. She was also a lesbian and refused to closet herself in a time when homosexuality was considered an illness at best, a crime at worst. Vargas lived her entire life the way she wanted, no matter what — and thank god for that.