These independent short films by female directors feature amazing cinematography, exceptional stories and brilliant ensemble casts consisting of actors like Christina Ricci, Zooey Deschanel and Natalie Portman. Showcasing the early talents of award winning directors like Sofia Coppola and Kimberly Peirce, this list also includes excellent short works by some of cinema’s leading actresses including Eva Mendes and Scarlett Johansson.

  1. “California Romanza” The directorial debut of actress Eva Mendes, this charming short is one of the best independent short films by female directors in recent years and showcases Mendes’ exceptional talent. The film stars an adorable Christina Ricci as Lena, a recently jilted girl who meets a handsome stranger (played by Troy Garity) while searching for her aunt’s car on Christmas Eve. Must-see performances by Kathy Najimy and Daniel Stern highlight this whimsical comedy.

  2. “Lick the Star” Written and directed by Sofia Coppola, this film was Coppola’s directorial debut and tells the story of a group of girls who slowly weaken their boyfriends by poisoning them with arsenic. This strange philosophical character study features a cameo by legendary filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich as the school principal.

  3. “D.E.B.S.” This 2003 short by Angela Robinson was expanded into a feature length film in 2004. The film follows a secret paramilitary group of young girls who face off against a powerful enemy played by a sultry Clare Kramer. Noted for its exploration of lesbian relationships, the film received a number of awards after it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

  4. “The Last Good Breath” The directorial debut of acclaimed filmmaker Kimberly Peirce, this re-imagining of “Romeo and Juliet” follows Jason and Rachel, two lovers from different worlds in which Jason is destined to die while Rachel is destined to live. Arguably one of the best independent short films by female directors, the film was followed by Peirce’s award-winning feature “Boys Don’t Cry.”

  5. “House Hunting” This 2003 comedy written and directed by “Party of Five” co-creator Amy Lippman stars Zooey Deschanel and Paul Rudd as a young married couple who explore their marital concerns over a day of house hunting. The film is one of the best independent short films by female directors and is highlighted by sharp dialogue and a great performance by actor Terry Kinney as their shady real estate broker, Mr. Hogue.

  6. “Raving” This film delivers a standout performances by Bill Irwin as a man with emotional and financial troubles who offers a party going con artist named Katie a job cleaning his apartment after a chance encounter in a diner. Written and directed by actress Julia Stiles, this film features a brilliant performance by Zooey Deschanel as Katie and ends with Deschanel’s soulful rendition of “Hello Dolly.”

  7. “The Thief” This moving short film is one of the best independent short films by female directors in recent years and was co-written and directed by actress Rachel Weisz. The film stars Joel Edgerton as a desperate father who resorts to burglary, only to be offered a job by his hostage charmingly portrayed by Rosemary DeWitt.

  8. “Smile Pinki” One of the best independent short films by female directors in the past decade, this 2008 documentary chronicles a young Hindi girl’s journey to correct her cleft lip and the effects of the free surgery on her life. Produced and directed by Megan Mylan, the film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2009.

  9. “These Vagabond Shoes” This beautifully shot noir-style film follows an unnamed New York City man (played by screen icon Kevin Bacon) who finds himself at a Coney Island boardwalk to watch the sunset. Shot in black and white, the film was written and directed by actress Scarlet Johansson and ends with a must-see, beautifully framed, panoramic shot of the sunset unfolding in color.

  10. “Kosher Vegetarian” A sentimental short directed by Mira Nair for inclusion in the 2009 anthology of vignettes entitled “New York, I Love You,” this film stars Natalie Portman as a Jewish broker who discusses her faith and subsequent eating habits with her Jain diamond merchant. “Kosher Vegetarian” is one of the best vignettes included in “New York, I Love You” which also features a short film directed by Natalie Portman herself.