Cinema, perhaps better than any other form of art, manages to involve the viewer through multiple channels. When we watch a film we are preparing to live a visual, auditory and emotional experience. It is perhaps for this reason that cinema is often used as a means to tell stories and convey messages. 

When we talk about violence against women we are not referring only to femicide. When we talk about violence against women we are referring to a very wide range of abuses, discrimination and coercion. 

To reach the general public, films have always been the prince and, even when it comes to violence against women, cinema has managed to tell atrocious stories but also of redemption, trying to shake the emotional chords of the spectators.

There is still a long way to go and that is why it would be worth seeing some of these feature films again. Films that, more than others, have been able to grasp the different facets of gender discrimination , from the most brutal rape to the most subtle psychological manipulations.

Here is a selection of 12 films that tell violence against women:

1) The purple color

Among the films that tell the violence against women probably one of the most famous is The Color Purple , a 1985 film by Steven Spielberg. Based on the novel of the same name by Alice Walker, the film tells the story of Celie and is set in the southern United States between the 1920s and 1930s. Celie is a little black girl with a terrible history of being abused by her father.She will be forced to marry an equally violent man. The only person Celie feels loved by and the sister she will lose track of. Only thanks to the meeting of two strong and indomitable women will she be able to understand that life can be different. This film tells very well the perverse mechanism in which a victim of violence can find himself who, having never lived a different reality, finds himself not knowing the true meaning of words such as love, friendship and respect.

2) The unknown

In this film Giuseppe Tornatore is inspired by some news stories regarding the prostitution racket and the illegal trafficking of their children, sold to wealthy families who cannot have any. Irena is a former prostitute who finds work with a wealthy Italian family. The film is a continuous psychological intrigue, made up of dark scenes and flashbacks that help us reconstruct the protagonist’s past and present. The long spiral of blood and pain that unfolds throughout the film is the result of the terrible abuse suffered by Irena. Among the films that tell the violence against women this emphasizes the difficulty of closing with the past for those who have suffered so much pain.

3) Thelma & Louise

Often this wonderful film is superficially read as a road movie, a female adventure or a fairy tale about feminism. In reality, in hindsight, this film has a bitter aftertaste. Thelma and Louise are two friends and colleagues. They have difficult family situations behind them with no way out. When they decide to leave, they seem to have no choice. Among the films that tell the violence against women this is the one that gives us the least way out: to get stuck in a patriarchal and misogynistic world or to escape and pay the price of freedom with life.

4) First love

This 2004 film by Matteo Garrone tells in a very crude way the relationship of control that is established between victim and executioner. It is a cinematic adaptation freely taken from Marco Mariolini’s autobiographical novel Il cacciatore di anorexic . Vittorio is a goldsmith, in analysis for his obsession with female thinness. He starts dating Sonia and convinces her to lose a few pounds. Gradually the diet becomes more and more strict and the relationship turns into a physical and psychological slavery.

5) Monster

Monster tells the true story of US serial killer Aileen Wuornos, executed in 2002 for the murder of 7 men between 1989 and 1990. Played by Charlize Theron, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress for this role, Aileen and a woman who prostitutes herself since the age of 13. She meets Selby, a girl thrown out of her house for her homosexuality and falls in love with her. Aileen continues to prostitute herself to be able to earn some money but is now irremediably marked by her horrible past and by the rape suffered by a client. This desperate situation will lead her to carry out a series of murders among her clients. Among the films that tell the violence against women, Monsterperhaps this is what most confronts us with the assumption that ‘he who experiences evil becomes evil’.

6) The beast in the heart

One of the films that tell the violence against women suffered in the family with greater intensity is The Beast in the Heart. Cristina Comencini describes Sabrina’s story in an extremely intimate and touching way. Played by Giovanna Mezzogiorno, the woman leads an apparently peaceful life. She is married and expecting her first child. Suddenly, however , memories of a childhood marked by the violence of her father resurface. The only way for Sabrina to piece together the truth and overcome those nightmares about her will be to track down her brother.

7) Fried green tomatoes (at the train stop)

We mentioned this wonderful film among the films that tell violence against women for its ability to describe the relationship between women. 2 friends and accomplices who find themselves fighting male chauvinism, discrimination and racism in 1930s America. With her story Ninny manages to shake the existence of Evelyn, a frustrated housewife who lives in her husband’s total indifference.

8) Stolen love

Based on the collection of the same name by Dacia Maraini, the Irish Braschi director stages a choral film that tells the violence against women starting from the protagonists, their stories and their daily lives. Angela, Alessandra, Francesca, Anna, Marina are 5 women who have known the brutality of violence and who have experienced it on their own skin.

9) North Country – Josey’s story

Here is another of the films about violence against women based on a true story. The film tells the story of Josey Aimes, forced to work in the mine, where she suffers violence and abuse against which she decides to rebel. The narrative traces the facts relating to the Jenson vs. Eveleth Taconite Co. , whose ruling changed the sexual harassment law in the United States.

10) Under accusation

Also under accusation and among the films that tell the violence against women inspired by real events. A waitress, played by Jodie Foster, is raped by 3 men in the bar where she works in the general incitement of the other patrons. After an initial acceptance of the plea agreement, Attorney Kathryn Murphy thinks about it. Thanks to witness Ken Joyce, all the instigators will be indicted and the 3 rapists will see their punishment go from negligent injury to sexual violence.

11) The child bride

Among the films that tell the violence against women we must also face the terrible practice of child marriage. Even today in the world there are many girls forced to marry men much older than them. The story directed by Khadija Al-Salami tells of Nojoom, a 10-year-old Yemeni girl who ends up in the hands of a man who rapes and beats her. Her little girl will be able to find the strength to react by fleeing the segregation and violence of her husband. This is an almost autobiographical film as the director also married a man over twenty years older than her at the age of 11. She too, like little Nojoom, managed to rebel, to escape and take back her life.

12) Don’t move

The last of the films that tell the violence against women that we have decided to report to you is Don’t move . Based on the successful novel of the same name by Margaret Mazzantini, the work tells the extramarital affairs of a surgeon, in an imaginary dialogue with her daughter who is operating after being involved in a car accident. The plot revolves around the unbalanced relationship between Timoteo and Italy , a girl who prostitutes herself out of necessity. But the film also addresses other purely female themes such as violence, birth, abortion and death.