Sundance Film Festival close to gender parity with 2020 edition

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Music superstar Taylor Swift will be profiled in Lana Wilson’s documentary “Taylor Swift: Miss Americana,” to play the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. [Trae Patton/NBC]

When the 2020 Sundance Film Festival kicks off later this month in and around Park City, Utah, it will be close to its goal of gender parity – significantly closer than most of the other major film fests.

This year’s lineup includes 118 full-length feature films, representing 27 countries and 44 first-time feature filmmakers. Of the 65 directors in the four competition categories – which total 56 films – 46 percent are women, 38 percent are people of color and 12 percent are LGBTQ+, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Among the 118 films that will screen across 10 major categories are Lana Wilson’s documentary “Taylor Swift: Miss Americana,” about the music superstar’s metamorphosis from an apolitical singer-songwriter to a pop icon ready, willing and able to fully deploy her voice to speak on issues she believes are important; Kim A. Snyder’s documentary “Us Kids​,” which follows the survivors of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting and their work on the youth gun control movement; and Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht’s documentary “Crip Camp​,” about a 1970s summer camp for disabled teens, produced under Michelle and Barack Obama’s Higher Ground shingle.

Other high-profile projects from female filmmakers include Julie Taymor’s “The Glorias,” featuring Alicia Vikander, Julianne Moore and Steinem herself as the pioneering feminist at different ages; Eliza Hittman’s “Never Rarely Sometimes Always​,” which trails a pair of teen girls in rural Pennsylvania who go on a road trip across state lines when one has to deal with an unplanned pregnancy; and Dee Rees’ Sundance return with “The Last Thing He Wanted​,” an adaptation of the Joan Didion novel starring Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck, Willem Dafoe and Rosie Perez.

Also playing at Sundance will be writer-director Miranda July’s “Kajillionaire,” with Evan Rachel Wood, Gina Rodriguez and Debra Winger, about a woman whose life is disrupted when her criminal parents invite an outsider to join them on a major heist they’re scheming; Emerald Fennell’s directorial debut “Promising Young Woman,” a revenge tale produced by Margot Robbie and starring Carey Mulligan; and documentarian Liz Garbus’ narrative feature debut​, the serial killer drama “Lost Girls.”

Plus, Radha Blank writes, directs and acts, while Lena Waithe produces, with “The 40-Year-Old Version​,” about a down-on-her-luck New York playwright who reinvents herself and salvages her artistic voice by becoming a rapper at age 40; Josephine Decker helms and Sarah Gubbins penned “Shirley,” starring Elisabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg and Odessa Young, about a young couple who moves in with famed author Shirley Jackson and her Bennington College professor husband, Stanley Hyman, in the hope of starting a new life, but instead find themselves fodder for a psycho-drama that inspires Shirley’s next novel; and Tara Miele writes and directs “Wander Darkly​,” which centers on a couple of new parents Adrienne and Matteo who are forced to reckon with trauma amidst their troubled relationship and features Sienna Miller and Diego Luna.

The Sundance Film Festival runs  Jan. 23-Feb. 2. To read about more films on the lineup, click here.


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