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The Screening Room

March on The Screening Room

"The Hurt Locker" director Kathryn Bigelow holds her Best Director Oscar.
"The Hurt Locker" director Kathryn Bigelow holds her Best Director Oscar.
  • From Hollywood to indie, from all over the world, female directors talk about their craft
  • Including: The world's first female filmmaker and the first woman to be nominated for Best Director Oscar
  • Kenya's Wanuri Kahui on making the country's first ever sci-fi
  • Danish Oscar-nominee Susanne Bier gives a masterclass

(CNN) -- Bigelow and beyond: "I'm not a woman -- I'm a director"

"Well the time has come!"

It was with these words that Barbra Streisand announced the end of one of the longest omissions in the 82-year history of the Oscars -- a woman had finally been chosen as Best Director. But does gender really matter when making movies?

CNN International's The Screening Room takes you on a journey to meet some of female directors who have left their mark on cinematic history and those who could be the Bigelows of the future.

Taking off from turn-of-the century France, with "petticoat pioneer" Alice Guy who saw beyond the camera's scientific uses. She went on to direct scores of short films by 1900 and built two movie studios across the Atlantic during the early days of the American movie business. We hear from the campaigners determined to win a place for Guy in the Directors Guild.

We then visit German director Lotte Reiniger who cut characters and sets out of paper for all 300,000 of the shots in her 1926 silhouette animation silent film "The Adventures of Prince Achmed."

Fast forward half a century to Italian director Lina Wertmuller, the first woman to be nominated for a Best Director Academy Award for 1976 film "Seven Beauties." Even today, she is one of only five women to get a nod for the Academy's high accolade. Now 82, Wertmuller believes Bigelow's face should be put on the dollar bill.

Then there's Martha Coolidge, the first woman to become President of the Directors Guild of America. She tells us that Bigelow's biggest breakthrough was to win the award for directing a film traditionally considered a male domain -- in Hollywood 80 percent of films are action movies and virtually none of them are given to women directors.

'The Screening Room visits London's Bird's Eye View Film Festival, where women directors talk about gender and the filmmaking process. Charismatic Kenyan director, Wanuri Kahiu, enters sci-fi territory for the first time with "Pumzi," and Oscar-nominated Danish director Susanne Bier gives a movie masterclass that includes advice on how women can balance childcare with a career as a director.

From Hollywood directors to independent filmmakers across the United States, UK, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, France, Spain, Denmark, Lebanon, India and Iran, women speak of their craft, their influences and what they aim to accomplish through their films.

CNN International's The Screening Room presents the most comprehensive look at women in film since Kathryn Bigelow's historic award exploded the celluloid ceiling.

Showtimes: Wednesday 31 March: 0830, 1630, Saturday 3 April: 0830, 1700, 2030, Sunday 4 April: 0530, 1730, Monday 5 April: 0300 (all times GMT)

Watch Online: from March 31.