WEEK IN WOMEN: Sundance Film Festival Hits 50-50 – Brandy McDonnell reports

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Sundance Film Festival – which usually takes place in Park City, Utah – is not only festival.sundance.org” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>going digital but also is offering in-person socially distanced screenings and events at drive-in theaters, independent arthouses and other venues around the country.

“This Festival is a singular response to a singular year – both in design and curation – and we are excited about the new dimensions of possibility it will reveal. But at its core is something that speaks to our most enduring values,” said Tabitha Jackson, Director of the Sundance Film Festival, in a statement. “For thousands of years humans have gathered to tell stories and make meaning. In this pandemic year, we gather to celebrate a constellation of artists with unique perspectives that express this current moment and who together are saying, ‘We exist. This is who we are. And this is what we see.’”

The full 2021 Sundance slate includes 71 feature-length films, representing 29 countries and 38 first-time feature filmmakers. The films were selected from 14,092 submissions, including 3,500 feature-length films. Of the feature film submissions, 1,377 were from the U.S. and 2,132 were international.

“The work in this year’s program is groundbreaking, imaginative, and formally daring,” said Kim Yutani, the Festival’s Director of Programming. “With over half the program made by first-time directors, a sense of discovery remains true to us at Sundance. This year’s Festival presents irrefutable evidence that despite the challenges, the independent voice is as strong as ever.”

Across 139 films and projects, 50%, or 69, were directed by one or more women; 4%, or six, were directed by one or more non-binary individuals; 50%, or 70, were directed by one or more artists of color; and 15%, or 21, by one or more people who identify as LGBTQ+.

“The work in this year’s program is groundbreaking, imaginative, and formally daring,” said Kim Yutani, the festival’s director of programming, in a statement. “With over half the program made by first-time directors, a sense of discovery remains true to us at Sundance. This year’s Festival presents irrefutable evidence that despite the challenges, the independent voice is as strong as ever.”

In the U.S. competition, 50% of the 10 directors in this year’s U.S. Dramatic Competition identify as women, while 40% identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color). In addition, 64% of the 11 directors in this year’s U.S. Documentary Competition identify as women, while 73% identify as BIPOC and 9% as LGBTQ+.

Also, 50% of the 10 World Dramatic Competition selections are directed by filmmakers who identify as women.

Here are some of the woman-helmed projects that are on the Sundance 2021 slate: Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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Brandy McDonnell

Brandy McDonnell

Brandy McDonnell writes features and reviews movies, music, events and the arts for The Oklahoman, Oklahoma's statewide newspaper, and NewsOK.com, the state's largest news Web site. Raised on a farm near Lindsay, Okla., she started her journalism career in seventh grade, when she was elected reporter for her school's 4-H Club. Taking her duties seriously, she began submitting stories to The Lindsay News, and worked for the local weekly through high school. She attended Oklahoma State University, where she worked for The Daily O'Collegian and earned her journalism degree with honors. She worked for three years at small Oklahoma dailies The Edmond Sun and Shawnee News-Star. In 2002, she joined The Oklahoman as a features reporter, writing about movies, the arts, events, families and nonprofits. She moved to The Oklahoman's entertainment desk in 2007. In 2004, she won a prestigious Journalism Fellowship in Child & Family Policy from the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Along with her membership in AWFJ, she also is a founding member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle. Brandy writes The Week In Women blog for AWFJ.org.