A gifted and award-winning filmmaker from Australia, Gillian Armstrong first garnered attention with her debut feature, "My Brilliant Career" (1979), which helped propel her to international recognition. The film's release gave Armstrong the distinction of being the first woman to helm a feature-length movie in her homeland in almost 50 years. Coupled with the themes of "My Brilliant Career," she was threatened from the outset with being pigeonholed as a so-called feminist director, a tag that Armstrong vehemently refused to accept. Meanwhile, she built on her success with the light and frothy "Starstruck" (1982) and the true-to-life "Mrs. Soffel" (1984), both of which allowed her to explore female protagonists striking out on their own, albeit in vastly different situations. Not strictly a narrative filmmaker, Armstrong helmed the occasional documentary, starting with "Smokes and Lollies" (1975), which focused on three working-class adolescents' dreams and aspirations. She returned to the same subjects over the ensuing decades, with Armstrong exploring them as they grew into adults and had teenage children of their own. But narrative filmmaking remained her main focus. She had one of her greatest critical successes with a rich and compelling remake of "Little Women" (1994), which she followed with well-crafted films like "Oscar and Lucinda" (1997) and "Charlotte Gray" (2001). Though often denying any favoritism toward period films focused on independent female protagonists, there was no doubt that Armstrong was a great practitioner of those exact kinds of films.