Movies & TV

10 Powerful Films About Women Based on True Stories

These films show how women fought tooth and nail for some respect.

In many parts of the world, the history of women has often been dismissed, many being relegated to the “official” history written by men. Oftentimes women were intentionally obscured in the writing of history. These 15 films are about how women fought for something considered the most basic right: equality. 

From factories, mines, printing presses, to our exploration of space, women fought tooth and nail to be respected. These are the 10 most empowering films about women based on true stories. 

1| Hidden Figures

As NASA eats the space dust left by the Russians as they beat them in earth orbit, a group of black women at Houston work silently to make sure the Americans quickly follow suit. But they meet a lot of hurdles because of their color and gender. 


2| Erin Brokovich

A broke and jobless ex-beauty queen (Julia Roberts) lands a job at a law firm and finds herself pursuing a multimillion dollar case against a gas company. Despite not having gone to law school, her hard work brings a goliath down to its knees. 


3| Made in Dagenham

A group of women working at a Ford factory in the small town of Dagenham, U.K., forces a worldwide revamp of pay grades after their strike demanding for equal pay for women. 

4| The Help

Set in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi, Skeeter (Emma Stone) interviews Aibileen (Viola Davis) about her life as a domestic helper for white people for a book she is writing (“The Help”). As more abuses on the black community occur that year, more household helpers composed of black women agree to contribute their own stories. Friendships are forged, but not before the white Jackson residents realize it was them who are being talked about in the bestselling book. 


5| The Post

Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) is the publisher of the Washington Post, and the first female publisher of any major American broadsheet. When a scandal breaks involving the Vietnam War, Graham is forced to decide between the risk of being jailed for publishing “state secrets,” or standing up for freedom of the press.

6| Iron Jawed Angels

Photo by HBO Films.


Women suffragists picket Woodrow Wilson at the height of World War I. Unfortunately, most of American society at the time, including women, frowned upon their stunt and launched a counter-campaign arguing why women should not be able to vote. 

When the suffragists were arrested, they decided to go on hunger strike. To keep them alive, the government force-fed the suffragists with milk and raw egg. They were made to wear a metal contraption that looked like iron jaws to keep their mouths open as they being fed. 

7| The Iron Lady

Recommended Videos

This biopic is the story of how Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep) navigated the world of politics that is dominated by men. In the biopic, it is shown how Thatcher evolved from a soft-spoken lady to a vigorous, obstinate force who became reputed as the Iron Lady. 

8| North Country

Josie Aimes (Charlize Theron) is a single mother who had to return to her hometown because of a failed marriage. Unemployed and broke, she joins a handful of women to work at a coal mine, where they experience sexual harassment and abuse. Ultimately, Aimes sues the mining company for allowing the mistreatment of women in their facility. She was later joined by her fellow women in the suit, which is now considered a landmark case and America’s first-ever class action lawsuit for sexual harassment.


9| On the Basis of Sex

Ruth Bader Ginsburg aka RBG (Felicity Jones) fights for equality. The film tells the stirring and spirited true story that follows the young lawyer as she fights to bring a groundbreaking case before the U.S. Court of Appeals and overturn a century of gender discrimination.


10| The Passion of Joan of Arc

This silent film from 1928 tells the story of the trial of Joan of Arc (Renée Jeanne Falconetti). To this day, Falconetti’s performance is still considered the greatest performance of a female actor, according to Esquire Philippines' editor-at-large, Sarge Lacuesta. Interestingly, Joan of Arc is Falconettti’s first and only film role.

More Videos You Can Watch
About The Author
Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
View Other Articles From Mario
Latest Feed
Load More Articles
Connect With Us