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#FilmHerStory: 13 Female-Fronted Biopics We're Looking Forward To

By Kristy Puchko | Lists | June 23, 2015 |

By Kristy Puchko | Lists | June 23, 2015 |

The hashtag #FilmHerStory trended on Twitter throughout Women’s History Month, urging filmmakers to consider the many fascinating true tales that have somehow not earned biopics yet. A stellar slate of movies in the works about real women who had real impact shows these pleas did not fall on deaf ears.

There are a bunch of promising biopics coming up, by women, about women, but for all of us. Here’s an heartening round-up of who’s history is hitting screens near you:

Out Now:

Bessie Smith
Directed by acclaimed Pariah helmer Dee Rees, Bessie stars Queen Latifah as the legendary blues performer who lit up stages in the 1920s and ’30s. This movie also features Mo’Nique, Charles S. Dutton, Tika Sumpter, Oliver Platt and Michael Kenneth Williams. It aired on HBO in May, and can be found on HBOgo and HBOnow.

Coming To A Theatre Near You:

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Nellie Bly
Written and directed by Timothy Hines, 10 Days In a Madhouse delves into journalist Nellie Bly’s most harrowing exposé investigation. At just 23, she feigned mental illness to go undercover into Blackwell’s Island, a women’s insane asylum with a dark reputation. This indie production stars newcomer Caroline Barry, and will be hitting theaters in the U.S. on September 25th. (Facebook)

Directed by Sarah Gavron, Suffragette boasts stars like Helena Bonham Carter, Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep, and explores the suffrage movement of British women in the late 19th and early 20th century. Though it seems to center on a fictional heroine (Mulligan), the docudrama includes such notables activists as Emmeline Pankhurst, Emily Davison, and Edith New. The film opens Stateside on October 23rd. (Pajiba)

Lili Elbe
Based on the life of a groundbreaking trans woman, The Danish Girl reveals how Elbe transitioned in the 1930s with the support of her wife Gerda. Helmed by Tom Hooper, her story will get the Oscar bait treatment, with a cast that includes Eddie Redmayne (pictured above), Alicia Vikander and Ben Whishaw. The film opens November 27th. (Pajiba)

Joy Mangano
She was the creator of the Miracle Mop. This movie from David O. Russell will chart her rise from teen inventor to struggling single mom to Home Shopping Network mogul. And with Academy favorite Jennifer Lawrence bringing her legacy to the big screen, Mangano’s story could soon be deemed Oscar-winning. Joy opens December 25th. (THR)

Nina Simone
Former Roseanne writer/producer Cynthia Mort has written and directed Nina, a biopic about the iconic musician that will follow Simone’s rise to fame and relationship with her manager Clifton Henderson, played by Selma star David Oyelowo. Though the pic has already courted controversy for casting the light-skinned Zoe Saldana as Simone, we’re big enough fans of the actress to be eager to see what she brings to the role. Currently in postproduction, no release date has yet been announced for Nina.(HuffPo)

In Production:

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Marie Curie
This month filming kicked off in Poland on the biopic about the two-time Nobel Prize winning scientist. Directed by “post-feminist French director Marie Noelle,” Maria Sklodowska-Curie will not only tell the story of how Curie “Within a space of six years,…gave birth to a child, lost her beloved husband with whom she shared her passion for scientific research and fell in love again (with a married man) sparking a high-profile public scandal, and then she wins another Nobel to top it all off.” It will also draw attention to the sexism that still exists in STEM fields. (Yahoo)

In Development:

Pam Grier
The celebrated Blaxploitation star’s autobiography Foxy: My Life in Three Acts serves as the basis for what’s sure to be a scintillating biopic about the woman behind the “meanest chick in town.” Grier’s book was ripe with tales of her rise to fame, her romances with Richard Pryor, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Freddie Prinze Sr., her comeback and cancer battles. In 2012, Imprint Entertainment optioned it. Now, we wait for news on a script and who might dare step into Grier’s chic shoes. (Cinema Blend)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Last month it was announced that Natalie Portman will headline On the Basis of Sex, which will unveil the incredible story of this Supreme Court Justice. The film is said to focus on Ginsburg’s fight for equal rights, her co-founding of Women’s Rights Project with the A.C.L.U., and presumably her rise to the highest court in the land. Plus, it is looking to be as dedicated to leveling the playing field as its heroine. Ginsburg herself revealed that production was delayed as Portman searched for a female director to helm it. Now that she has secured The Diary of a Teenage Girl’s Marielle Heller, we eager await news on when this biopic will debut. (Vanity Fair)

Based on Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra: A Life, this Sony production will likely have a big fat budget, thanks to the box office appeal of Maleficent star Angelina Jolie. Such big-name behind-the-scenes-talent as Paul Greengrass, James Cameron, David Fincher and Ang Lee have been rumored for its helm. But the Sony hack revealed tensions between producers and Jolie over the screenplay. Since then, there’s been no news Cleopatra’s development. (Us Magazine)

Janis Joplin
Not just a 30 Rock gag, Get It While You Can will star Amy Adams as the wild 1960s singer-songwriter. But the project has hit a few snags that have repeatedly delayed production. The latest is legal troubles. (Rolling Stone, AV Club)

Alice Mitchell and Freda Ward
Teen lovers in 1892 Tennessee, these girls’ romance ended in tears, blood and madness when their families thwarted their would-be wedding plans. It’s a grisly tale that’s news coverage provides a fascinating look into the era’s zeitgeist. And all of this is being tackled by Babadook director Jennifer Kent for Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder In Memphis, based on Alexis Coe’s book. Kent will write and direct the biopic; there’s no word yet on when it might roll into production. (Pajiba)

Scripted Potential:

Hillary Rodham Clinton
In the winter of 2012, Rodham was one of the most talked about unproduced screenplays in Hollywood, earning the #4 spot on the coveted Black List. Written by Young Il Kim, the biopic would center on the Watergate scandal, when Rodham was a lawyer on the rise who was chosen for the House Judiciary Committee to Impeach Nixon. It’d also include her romance with a law teacher in Arkansas named Bill. In late 2013, Lionsgate was in talks, with James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) lined up to helm. Since then, there’s been little news on Rodham. Perhaps interest will pick up post election 2016. (Cinema Blend, THR)

If you know of more female-fronted biopics in the works, please share them in comments!

Kristy Puchko has plenty of suggestions for more female-fronted biopics.

Kristy Puchko is the film editor of Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.