This article analyses three Spanish films made during the 1990's by three male filmmakers: ‘Ay, Carmela’ (1990) by Carlos Saura, Land and Freedom, (1995) by Ken Loach and Libertarias, (1996) by Vicente Aranda. The three films are set during the Spanish Civil War and are concerned with the rewriting of recent Spanish history. The article focuses on the representation of female characters in these films. The three films echo the rapidly changing roles of women in Republican Spain in 1937–38 and they attempt to portray female characters as subjects and not objects. Nonetheless, this article argues that not all three films succeed in depicting women as discourse-mastering subjects: while Loach only uses the female characters as an instrument to document Spanish history, Aranda further places gender issues at the heart of his film. However, it is Saura who actually manages to represent a strong and independent female character as a subject with a discourse of her own.