Movies, Documentaries, Instructional Videos of Interest for Girls and Women

**As with any video or movie, you should always preview it prior to allowing your student to view it.  Ms. Duell may not be held liable for any content etc. in these.

+Against the Ropes (2004, PG-13)
Small in stature but larger than life in personality and determination, Detroit's Jackie Kallen (Meg Ryan) managed boxers and shepherded many of them to victory in the ring. Her personal life was just as tantalizing; she left her husband for the sport and later became head of the International Female Boxers Association.

Annie O (1995, PG)
Ah, equality without lawsuits. There is no girls’ varsity basketball team at Washington High School, but Annie "Sure Shot" Rojas plays better than anyone in the school, boy or girl. So, the boys’ coach invites her to try out for his team. She’s ostracized at first by her teammates, who include her brother and boyfriend, but eventually they realize she’s not a threat but the reason the team keeps winning. By the next year, without one mention of Title IX, Washington has a girls’ varsity team!

~ Bend It Like Beckham (2003, PG-13)
Bend It Like Beckham is true girl power. This glorious comedy centers on Jess (Parminder Nagra), an Indian girl born in England whose only desire is to become a football--or, as we say on this side of the Atlantic, soccer--star like her idol, David Beckham; but her traditional family refuses to even consider it. With the help of her new friend Juliet (Keira Knightley), Jess secretly joins a girls' team under the guidance of a male coach (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). As the team starts to gain some attention, Jess's secret can't be kept forever. The story of Bend It Like Beckham is so genuine and detailed that it transcends all the sports-movie formulas that it also fulfills with cheeky exuberance. Wonderfully acted, and written and directed with loving care by Gurinder Chadha (Bhaji on the Beach, What's Cooking?), this movie is pure delight from start to finish. – Bret Fetzer

~ Blue Crush (2002, PG-13)
With refreshing energy, Blue Crush is the kind of movie that girls and young women deserve to see more of…It rejuvenates the surf-movie tradition by showing real girls with real friendships, coping with absent parents, borderline poverty, rocky romance and the challenge of raising a kid sister. For young Hawaiian Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth), those responsibilities are motivations to excel as a champion-class surfer...if she can overcome the fear of drowning, which she nearly did in a previous wipeout. Supportive friends (Girlfight's Michelle Rodriguez and Sanoe Lake) help her reach the climactic competition on Oahu's infamous Bonzai Pipeline, this engaging film uplifts the working class without condescension, riding high toward the joy of achievement. Himself an amateur surfer, director John Stockwell (Crazy/Beautiful) captures the extreme thrill of the sport while respecting the forces of nature and human behavior. – Jeff Shannon

~ Bring It On (2000, PG-13)
Sunny, happy Torrance (Kirsten Dunst) is the new leader of the Toros, the cheerleading squad of Rancho Carne, an affluent San Diego high school that has lousy football players but one heck of a cheerleading team. National champions, they're the ones who bring in the bodies to the football games with their award-winning moves and sassy grace, and they're poised to take their sixth national cheer title. Torrance's new reign as cheer queen, though, is cut short when she discovers that her snotty, duplicitous forerunner was regularly stealing routines from the East Compton Clovers, the hip-hop influenced cheerleaders of a poor inner-city school, and passing them off as the original work of the Toros. Scrambling to come up with a new routine for the Toros--and do the right thing by giving the Clovers their due--Torrance butts heads with the proud and understandably wary Isis (Gabrielle Union), the leader of the Clovers, who wants nothing to do with a rich blond white girl, but does want to get her squad to the championships. Problem is, only one team can take home the national title. Who's it gonna be?

~ Center Stage (2000, PG-13)
The primary appeal of dance movies is the dancing, with some added emphasis on the romance the art expresses. Center Stage wins on these counts, despite its reveling in overly familiar characters and formula plotting. Or maybe this reveling is responsible for what goofy fun this film is. The arduous task of becoming a professional ballet dancer is incarnated by many good-looking teens, all stock dance-film characters affectionately portrayed mostly by newcomers. But Center Stage holds Jody Sawyer (Amanda Schull), who may never be a great ballerina, but she's certainly one [great] jazz dancer. Then there's the arrogant genius (Ethan Stiefel), the dictatorial impresario (Peter Gallagher), the demanding instructor, the bulimic, the stage mother, etc. As we follow these characters, the message develops that one should let go and do what feels good. Jody may not be ballet material, but she scorches the stage when she's uninhibited…[the film] is all fun. --Jim Gay

~ Cutting Edge (1992, PG)
As far as ice-skating movies go (or those that prominently feature the cold-bladed sport), this romantic movie is one of the best, thanks to utterly charming performances by underrated actors D.B. Sweeney and Moira Kelly. The couple play, respectively, a washed-up hockey player and a prima-donna skater who end up in doubles figure skating together at the Olympic Winter Games. Of course, the mismatched pair falls in love. In between, there's a lot of verbal sparring, talk of toe picks and surprisingly skillful directing by Paul Michael Glaser (Kazaam, The Air Up There ). Direction here is critical--unlike in Flashdance , where the dancing was done in the shadows, face and feet obviously shot separately--and credibly highlights the actors and their professional stand-ins. This is such a fun, sweet story that the facts the film takes liberties with--including the alacrity with which a hockey player takes to Olympic-level figure skating--are easily forgivable. --N.F. Mendoza

* Dangerous When Wet (1953, NR)
Novelty musical in which the aquatic Higgins family sets out to swim the English channel to raise funds to buy a bull for their farm. Practicing for the swim, Kate Higgins (Esther Williams) gets fogbound, loses her way and is rescued by Fernando Lamas, with whom she falls in love. Along the way we also see an animated sequence in which Williams swims with Tom and Jerry!

~ Double Teamed (Disney) (2002, NR)
Inspired by the true story of WNBA players Heidi and Heather Burge -- also known as the world's tallest twins – Double Teamed is slam dunk fun for everyone! High school freshman Heidi and her sister, Heather, may be twins, but they have little in common, except for basketball. Heather dreams of stardom in the WNBA, while Heidi dreams of stardom as an actress. With their dad, Larry, and mom, Mary, at odds over their future, it seems no one is playing as a team. Worst of all their jealous teammate Nicky has just revealed a secret that could get them kicked off the team. Clearly, these twins need to get a game plan -- and fast -- because the championship, a scholarship and their relationship are at stake ... and time is quickly running out!

~ Eddie (1996, PG-13)
Whoopi Goldberg plays a loudmouthed, obsessive fan of the New York Knicks who wins a contest to coach the team. She soon finds that handling players is tough, fans are tough, owners are tough and so on, but she's big enough to conquer them all with determination, smarts and personality. The first half of the film is pretty cute as Goldberg's character makes the jump from opinionated spectator to the gal in the hot seat. But everything derails in the second half, which is mostly an op-ed piece about keeping pro-ball teams from moving out of their cities. --Tom Keogh

Girlfight (2000, R)
This film is a coming-of-age story about an angry young woman from a troubled background. Diana (Michelle Rodriguez) is drawn to the local gym and finds calm in the boxing ring. The sport transforms Diana into a confident, strong woman, both in the ring and out of it. The Rocky-esque climax shows her total transformation and sets up the ultimate conflict between love and boxing.

Heart Like a Wheel: The Shirley Muldowney Story (1983, PG)
This film is based on the life of Shirley "Cha Cha" Muldowney, the first woman licensed to drive a Top Fuel dragster. The movie chronicles her rise from a difficult childhood to a failed marriage and into the spotlight on the racetrack, where she became a three-time Top Fuel hot rod racing champion.

Her Best Move (2006, G)
High school is crazy enough, but for fifteen-year-old soccer star Sara Davis, it's about to get even crazier. On the field she dances through opponents to make impossible shots on goal - skills honed daily by her father Gil, a pro soccer coach. Encouraged by best friend Tutti to jump-start her life outside soccer, Sara makes up for lost time. From hi-jinks in the chemistry lab to tender moments in the darkroom, Sara soon discovers there’s more to life than just sports. As Gil pushes Sara to make the National Development Team, her hopes of performing in the dance recital and exploring a relationship with Josh, a photographer on the school newspaper, are shoved aside. With U.S. Team scouts watching every shot, Sara faces the challenge of discovering just who she is before making the best move of her life.

+ Ice Castles (1979, PG)
Considered too old for a professional ice-skating career, 16-year-old Alexis nonetheless triumphs over her critics to become one of the world's best ice skaters. Tragically, she falls and suffers a concussive brain injury that leaves her nearly blind. With the help of her father and her boyfriend, Alexis reemerges against all odds and attempts once again to become a top-ranked skater.

A League of Their Own (1992, PG)
It’s 1943. The ranks of Major League Baseball have gone to war, yet America still wants to watch baseball. That summer, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was formed and took women out of the house to play ball and change their lives forever. The film is based on real events and will make you want to start a girls’ baseball league in your area. The star studded cast features Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Rosie O’Donnell, Madonna and Tom Hanks.

- The Loretta Claiborne Story (ABC) (2000, PG)
Loretta Claiborne's fellow Americans became aware of her many remarkable achievements when she garnered numerous awards. Now, here is her true story starring Kimberly Elise ( Beloved) and Emmy Award-winner Camryn Manheim (TV's “The Practice”) as the dedicated social worker whose compassion inspired Loretta to remarkable heights while overcoming all odds. Your entire family will be moved and enthralled by the amazing life of this championship athlete and dedicated advocate for the physically challenged that the Los Angeles Daily News applauds as "a smart and moving tribute" to two courageous women.

* Love & Basketball (2000, PG-13)
An unusual romantic sports drama by Spike Lee, revolving around male and female basketball players. In l980s Los Angeles childhood friends Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps hang out together through school and college. As their relationship blossoms, they become a couple and share their mutual dream of, and striving towards, professional basketball careers.

~ Mad About Mambo (1998, PG-13)
Before she became America's sweetheart in “Felicity,” Keri Russell adopted an Irish brogue and starred as a willowy, wealthy lass with a passion for dancing in this coming-of-age romantic comedy. She's the object of affection for working-class William Ash, a football-loving lad who signs up for classes, hoping to acquire a little of the Latin flair of a Brazilian soccer superstar with moves like Fred Astaire. "We don't run with the ball, we dance," and so does Ash when he falls for snooty class star Russell. Imagine an adolescent mix of Strictly Ballroom and Shall We Dance dropped into 1980s Belfast amid the Troubles, complete with "the big dance contest," romantic complications and a splashy happy ending. --Sean Axmaker

+ Million Dollar Baby (2004, PG-13)
This Best Picture winner follows a determined young athlete who, through her sheer determination, awakens a long-lost fire within two aging boxers. Despondent over a painful estrangement from his daughter, trainer Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) isn't prepared for boxer Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) to enter his life. Maggie's determined to go pro, and she eventually convinces Dunn and his cohort (Morgan Freeman) to help her get to the top.

* Nadia, (1984, NR)
Biography of Romanian Nadia Comaneci, the first Olympic gymnast to achieve a perfect score of l0. After her astounding triumphs at the l976 Games, her personal life plummeted to tragic depths. This movie relates how she eventually managed to struggle back up again, enhancing her inspiring story with striking gymnastic footage.

* National Velvet (1945, NR)
Eleven-year-old Elizabeth Taylor charms embittered young ex-jockey Mickey Rooney, whose riding career has been ended by an accident. With his help Taylor rides a horse she has won to victory in the Grand National. It's hard to believe that this much-loved family classic is more than 50 years old!

~ The Next Karate Kid (1994, PG)
Hilary Swank plays 17-year-old Julie Pierce, the recently orphaned and troubled granddaughter of an old war buddy of Miyagi Yakuga (Noriyuki "Pat" Morita, the lone holdover from the previous Karate Kid films). Harassed at school by adolescent boys under the sway of an evil coach (Michael Ironside), Julie reluctantly finds refuge in the calm teachings of Mr. Yakuga. While the film's violence is as contrived and silly as that of the other KK features, the script provides exotic compensations via a subplot set in a peaceful Buddhist monastery. Still, it's Morita's crafty professionalism and Swank's emotional authenticity that makes this film more watchable than anyone might have expected. --Tom Keogh

* Pat and Mike (1952, NR)
Pat and Mike is a classic Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy romantic film in which Hepburn portrays a university physical education teacher who also plays golf and tennis professionally. Tracy is a somewhat shady sports promoter who becomes her manager. The problem is that whenever Hepburn's fiancé is around, she becomes so nervous she loses every game. Sports fans will enjoy cameo appearances by real-life personalities, including Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Alice Marble, Gussie Moran and Beverly Hanson.

* Personal Best (1982, R)
The performance of former Olympian Patrice Donnelly (as Tori) and the various shots of elite female athletes pushing themselves to be their best make this movie an authentic portrayal of the way Olympic athletes train and live. Although the movie may best be remembered for the relationship that develops between Tori and Chris (Mariel Hemingway), the movie’s real gift is the way it explores the psychological as well as the physical struggles associated with being an elite athlete.

Quarterback Princess (1983, NR)
This classic ‘80s film puts an average high school girl, Tami Maida (Helen Hunt), into the role of quarterback for her high school’s football team. When Tami’s dream of playing football actually comes true, it has the whole school and town talking. Her ability to handle the pressure from her family, opponents and her own teammates to come out on top makes this a must-see.

+ Save the Last Dance (2001, PG-13)
After her mother dies, Sarah (Julia Stiles) gives up her dreams of going to New York's famous Juilliard School. She must move to Chicago, live with her dad (who's virtually a stranger) and attend an urban school that's a far cry from the small-town atmosphere she's used to. Fortunately, Sarah befriends Chenille and Derek, who teach her not only how to hip-hop dance but also how to dream again.

* Thin Ice (1937, NR)
A musical comedy in which Sonja Henie plays a skating instructor at an Alpine hotel. Romanced by incognito Prince Rudolph (Tyrone Power), everyone assumes that Henie knows she is being pursued by royalty. She, however, insists she is actually engaged to Rudy Miller (not realizing that they are one and the same person) and the usual comical entanglements and convoluted misunderstandings ensue.

~ Troop Beverly Hills (1989, PG)
Shelley Long discovers that when the going gets tough, the tough go camping in Troop Beverly Hills, a comedy about lifestyles of the rich and outrageous. Flamboyantly wealthy Phyllis Nefler (Long) has everything money can buy--a drop-dead Beverly Hills mansion, a classic Rolls, furs, jewelry and designer gowns. The one thing she doesn't have is her husband, Freddy (Craig T. Nelson), who's leaving her for good. Maybe. Determined to prove she's still the creative, energetic woman Freddy once loved, Phyllis throws luxury to the wind and becomes leader of her daughter's Wilderness Girls troop. But how much can this chic cookie take before she crumbles? Is saving her marriage really worth trading Gucci bags for sleeping bags-–not to mention actually touching bugs? Featuring cameos by Robin Leach, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Pia Zadora, Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Dr. Joyce Brothers and Cheech Marin, Shelley Long blazes new comic trails in this hilarious trial-by-campfire that leaves the wilderness wilder than ever.

~ Whale Rider (2003, PG-13)
One of the most charming and critically acclaimed films of 2003, the New Zealand hit Whale Rider effectively combines Maori tribal tradition with the timely "girl power" of a vibrant new millennium. Despite the discouragement of her gruff and disapproving grandfather (Rawiri Paratene), who nearly disowns her because she is female and therefore traditionally disqualified from tribal leadership, 12-year-old Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes) is convinced that she is a tribal leader and sets about to prove it. Rather than inflate this story (from a novel by Witi Ihimaera) with artificial sentiment, writer-director Niki Caro develops very real and turbulent family relationships, intimate and yet torn by a collision between stubborn tradition and changing attitudes. The mythic whale rider--the ultimate symbol of Maori connection to nature--is also the harbinger of Pai's destiny, and the appealing Castle-Hughes gives a luminous, astonishingly powerful performance that won't leave a dry eye in the house. With its fresh take on a familiar tale, Whale Rider is definitely one from the heart. --Jeff Shannon

When Billie Beat Bobby (ABC) (2001, NR)
The film recreates the 1973 male-versus-female tennis match that was watched around the globe when Bobby Riggs (Ron Silver), a 55-year-old male tennis hustler, challenged Billie Jean King (Holly Hunter), then a 29-year-old star, to a tennis "Battle of the Sexes." The match shook the foundations of American sports by dramatically demonstrating that female professional athletes were worthy of equal respect.

~ Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken (1991, G)
Rarely has a film inspired and captivated audiences quite like the real-life story of Sonora Webster. As a runaway orphan, Sonora (Gabrielle Anwar) gets a job doing cleanup work for Doc Carver's traveling stunt show. Her biggest wish is to become a star "diving girl," but her youth and inexperience stand in the way. Undaunted, Sonora's gutsy determination finally convinces Doc (Cliff Robertson) to give her a break. Just when she appears on the brink of stardom, however, a twist of fate threatens to destroy her dream. With the help of a loving friend (Michael Schoeffling), Sonora faces her biggest challenge yet to prove to herself and the world that wild hearts can’t be broken!

Wilma (1977, PG-13) (TV)
This movie is based upon the true story of Wilma Rudolph, who contracted polio when she was four but still won three gold medals as a track and field athlete in the 1960 Olympic Games.


Champions of the World: Highlights from the 1999 Women’s World Cup (1999)
Relive the excitement from the opening match to the final penalty shootout as team USA wins the Cup in front of the home crowd. This video captures all the great goals, saves, tackles and celebrations as these 20 players fulfilled their dream of becoming world champions.

Dare to Compete: History of Women in Sports (HBO) (1999)
The documentary explores the history of women in sports through a collection of personal stories, challenges and achievements of female athletes. Dare to Compete includes key issues in women’s sports that are often overlooked, such as racism, sexism and homophobia.

FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003: The Highlights (2003)
This video takes you through the tournament step-by-step with exciting game highlights, behind the scenes footage and crowd shots that capture the passion of the event.

In the Game (1994)
Before ESPN’s "The Season," there was PBS’s "In the Game." This documentary takes you inside the 1993-94 season of the Stanford women’s basketball team. It is a behind-the-scenes look at the intensity and determination it takes to be an NCAA Division I basketball player and lets us peek in on the coaching style of Tara VanDerveer, who transformed Stanford into one of the top women’s basketball teams in the country.

Profiles in Aspiration (2005,NR)
With contemporary and intelligent content and innovative photography, Profiles in Aspiration is an engaging collection of portraits of women athletes. The message of Profiles in Aspiration is most strongly about the mental, emotional, and physical qualities needed to reach very high levels of performance in women's sports. The sports include rowing, running, hockey, swimming, water polo, gymwheel, judo, fencing, track and field, and more. For more information about this film please visit

Rocks with Wings (PBS) (2001)
Rocks with Wings is the inspiring story of how coach Jerry Richardson and the Lady Chieftains learned to overcome the differences in race, gender and cultural heritage that divided them to achieve a sense of pride and accomplishment for themselves, their team and their community.

Watermarks (2004)
Watermarks is the remarkable story of the champion women swimmers of the legendary Jewish sports club Hakoah Vienna. Hakoah was founded in response to the notorious Aryn Paragraph, a Nazi edict banning Jewish athletes from state-run clubs. As tensions mounted and Hitler’s Nationalist Socialist Party brutally asserted itself in Europe, the swimmers of Hakoah fled Vienna in 1936, just before the Anschluss. Sixty-five years later, we encounter the women’s swim team in their homes around the world, and travel with them as they reunite at their old competition pool in Vienna. A testament to the human spirit, their journey evokes memories of youth and femininity, and strengthens lifelong bonds. For more information about this film and its premiere, visit

Welcome to Our World: USA Players'-Eye View of the 2003
FIFA Women's World Cup
A behind-the-scenes look at the U.S. National Women's Soccer Team at the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup through the eyes of the players themselves. Available at

Instructional/ Workout Movies

~ Basketball For Women (series) (1998, NR)
Develop rock solid basketball fundamentals and a flair for the game with the help of Nancy Lieberman-Cline, a Hall of Famer and General Manager/Head Coach of the WNBA's Detroit Shock.

Dance Workout with Barbie (1992, NR)
Work out in your living room with Barbie! Users on say that this movie was exciting, fun and well-suited for ages 6-8…and above!

^ Fitness Fun: Pilates for Kids (2002, NR)
A completely kid-friendly introduction to Pilates for your 6- to 12-year-old child. Appropriate for this entire age group, the video has five progressively more advanced segments. It begins with "first-grade-level" Pilates-inspired exercises (e.g. the classic "rolling like a ball" movement ends with a series of playful somersaults). The video ends with "genuine" Pilates core-conditioning routines like the swan, seal and side leg lifts. Moira Stott-Merrithew's cuing is skillful and precise, but she also keeps the emphasis on having fun. Requires a basketball/soccer-sized ball.

~ Hip Hop for Kids Pop Lock and Break (2005)
Hip Hop Master Roger G takes you through the classic hip hop styles and the hottest new moves. Kids will learn to Pop, Lock and Break dance and get a great workout doing such dances as the Chingy, the Ponytail, The Uprock and more. The young hipsters featured on the DVD are having a ball, and so will the dancers at home. This set includes a phat 30-minute soundtrack CD to play at your next party or at home with friends. Bonus chapters include hip hop performances by the great Roger G (who is featured in videos with Jay Z and has appeared with Def Poetry Jam and 106 & Park) and Ms. Twist and Poker. There is also a kid-friendly nutrition and workout segment to keep the junior rap set in top form. Great for kids ages 7-16!

~ Kick to Get Fit Jr. -- for Kids (2002, NR)
Kick to Get Fit Jr. is an exercise program designed specifically for kids. Different from anything you've ever seen. Children love to exercise along with this program! The moves are easy to follow along with, while being fun and exciting enough to keep kids interested. This program involves some of the same effective movements found in martial arts and fitness classes, but uses a non-violent approach. The muscles mechanics are exactly the same, but the violent characteristics of throwing a punch have been eliminated.

~ Sesame Street - Elmocize (1996)
With an emphasis on the good feelings that go with fitness, this program is set at Elmo's exercise camp and features kids and Muppets bending, stretching and generally getting more fit. Cyndi Lauper is the appealing guest star, the banter between Muppets is funny, and songs include "Workout in a Chair" and "Do the Benny Hop." --Tom Keogh

~ Sesame Street - Get Up and Dance (1999)
When it's your teddy bear's birthday, you want to celebrate in style! That's why Big Bird is throwing a dance party for Radar. Everyone's getting into the act, and they're doing all their favorite dances! So put on your dancing shoes and get ready to party Sesame Street style!

Tae-Bo Junior (2003)
This movie was designed for youngsters, ages 4-14, by Tae-Bo creator Billy Blanks. This is a 30 minute version of the adult video and will definitely get girls moving!