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Sundance increases number of women directors

Sundance increases number of women directors

This year’s Sundance Film Festival (Park City/Salt Lake City, Utah) will be different. What makes it different is the presence of female-directed movies - close to 42 percent, according to Women and Hollywood report.

With a four percent overall increase from last year, female-directed films will be featured in various categories, including large percentages in the U.S. Documentary competition (44 percent of female directors) and World Cinema Documentary competition (34 percent).  There are also many international female directors making a debut at the festival.

Female-directed films to look out for at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival:

Before You Know It / U.S.A. (Director: Hannah Pearl Utt, Screenwriters: Hannah Pearl Utt, Jen Tullock, Producers: Mallory Schwartz, Josh Hetzler, James Brown) — A long-kept family secret thrusts codependent, thirty-something sisters Rachel and Jackie Gurner into a literal soap opera. A journey that proves that you really can come of age, at any age.

The Farewell / U.S.A., China (Director and screenwriter: Lulu Wang, Producers: Daniele Melia, Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub, Chris Weitz, Andrew Miano, Anita Gou) — A headstrong Chinese-American woman returns to China when her beloved grandmother is given a terminal diagnosis. Billi struggles with her family’s decision to keep grandma in the dark about her own illness as they all stage an impromptu wedding to see grandma one last time.

Honey Boy / U.S.A. (Director: Alma Har’el, Screenwriter: Shia LaBeouf

Honey Boy / U.S.A. (Director: Alma Har’el, Screenwriter: Shia LaBeouf, Producers: Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Anita Gou, Christopher Leggett, Alma Har’el) — A child TV star and his ex-rodeo clown father face their stormy past through time and cinema.

Imaginary Order / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Debra Eisenstadt, Producers: Debra Eisenstadt, Cosmos Kiindarius) — The sexual, psychological and moral unraveling of an obsessive-compulsive suburban mom.

Share / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Pippa Bianco, Producers: Carly Hugo, Tyler Byrne, Matt Parker) — After discovering a disturbing video from a night she doesn’t remember, sixteen-year-old Mandy must try to figure out what happened and how to navigate the escalating fallout.

To The Stars / U.S.A. (Director: Martha Stephens, Screenwriter: Shannon Bradley-Colleary, Producers: Kristin Mann, Laura D. Smith, Erik Rommesmo) — Under small town scrutiny, a withdrawn farmer’s daughter forges an intimate friendship with a worldly but reckless new girl in 1960s Oklahoma.

Dirty God / Netherlands, United Kingdom, Belgium, Ireland (Director: Sacha Polak, Screenwriters: Sacha Polak, Susanne Farrell, Producers: Marleen Slot, Michael Elliott) — Jade is a young mother in the prime of her life when an acid attack leaves her severely burned. While her face has been reconstructed, her beauty is lost beneath the scars. Descending a self-destructive path with relationships crumbling, Jade must take drastic action to reclaim her life.

Queen of Hearts / Denmark (Director: May el-Toukhy, Screenwriters: Maren Louise Käehne, May el-Toukhy, Producers: Caroline Blanco, René Ezra) — A woman jeopardizes both her career and her family when she seduces her teenage stepson and is forced to make an irreversible decision with fatal consequences.

The Sharks / Uruguay, Argentina, Spain (Director and screenwriter: Lucía Garibaldi, Producers: Pancho Magnou Arnábal, Isabel García) — While a rumor about the presence of sharks in a small beach town distracts residents, 14-year-old Rosina begins to feel an instinct to shorten the distance between her body and Joselo’s.

The Souvenir / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Joanna Hogg, Producers: Luke Schiller, Joanna Hogg) — A quiet film student begins finding her voice as an artist while navigating a turbulent courtship with a charismatic but untrustworthy man. She defies her protective mother and concerned friends as she slips deeper and deeper into an intense, emotionally fraught relationship which comes dangerously close to destroying her dreams.

Honeyland / Macedonia (Directors: Ljubomir Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska

Advocate / Israel, Canada, Switzerland (Directors: Rachel Leah Jones, Philippe Bellaïche, Producers: Philippe Bellaïche, Rachel Leah Jones, Paul Cadieux, Joelle Bertossa) Lea Tsemel defends Palestinians: from feminists to fundamentalists, from non-violent demonstrators to armed militants. As a Jewish-Israeli lawyer who has represented political prisoners for nearly 50 years, Tsemel, in her tireless quest for justice, pushes the praxis of a human rights defender to its limits.

Untitled Brazil Documentary / Brazil (Director and screenwriter: Petra Costa, Producers: Joanna Natasegara, Shane Boris, Tiago Pavan) — A cautionary tale for these times of democracy in crisis – the personal and political fuse to explore one of the most dramatic periods in Brazilian history. With unprecedented access to Presidents Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva, we witness their rise and fall and the tragically polarized nation that remains. 

Honeyland / Macedonia (Directors: Ljubomir Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska, Producer: Atanas Georgiev) — When nomadic beekeepers break Honeyland’s basic rule (take half of the honey, but leave half to the bees), the last female beehunter in Europe must save the bees and restore natural balance.

Shooting the Mafia / Ireland (Director: Kim Longinotto, Producer: Niamh Fagan) — Sicilian Letizia Battaglia began a lifelong battle with the Mafia when she first pointed her camera at a brutally slain victim. Documenting the Cosa Nostra’s barbaric rule, she bore unflinching witness to their crimes. Her photographs, art, and bravery helped to bring an end to a shocking reign of slaughter.

Birds of Passage / Colombia (Directors: Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra, Screenwriters: Maria Camila Arias, Jacques Toulemonde, Producers: Katrin Pors, Cristina Gallego) — In 1970s Colombia, Rapayet is a man torn between the desire to be powerful and his duty to uphold his culture’s values. His indigenous tribe, the Wayúu, ignores ancient omens and enters the drug trafficking business — where honor is the highest currency and debts are paid with blood. Cast: Carmina Martinez, Jose Acosta, Natalia Reyes.

The Nightingale / Australia (Director and screenwriter: Jennifer Kent, Producers: Kristina Ceyton, Bruna Papandrea, Steve Hutenski, Jennifer Kent) — 1825. Clare, a young Irish convict woman, chases a British officer through the Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of Aboriginal tracker Billy, who is marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.

The Sundance Film Festival takes place Jan. 24- Feb. 3. For more, visit: https://www.sundance.org/festivals/sundance-film-festival.

© Nikoleta Morales (1/21/19) FF2 Media

Birds of Passage / Colombia (Directors: Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra, Screenwriters: Maria Camila Arias, Jacques Toulemonde

Top photo: Before You Know It Hannah Pearl Utt, Jen Tullock

© Sundance Institute