Sundance Film Fest 2020: Diversity and Inclusion in Line Up

Oscar winner Julianne Moore and Oscar nominees Glenn Close, Viggo Mortensen, Ethan Hawke, and Benedict Cumberbatch will appear at the 2020 Sundance Film Fest, which runs January 23 to February 2.

The lineup of 118 feature films was announced today, December 4, 2019.

Redford’se Utah-based festival will kick off January 23 with several films, including the music documentary “Taylor Swift: Miss Americana.”

Director Julie Taymor’s Gloria Steinem biopic, “The Glorias,” features Alicia Vikander, Julianne Moore, and Janelle Monáe.

Another high-profile premiere, “The Father,” co-stars Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman.

Angelina Jolie and David Oyelowo head former Pixar director Brenda Chapman’s live-action debut, “Come Away.”

Fox Searchlight will debut “Downhill,” a remake of 2014 art-house hit “Force Majeure,” starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell as the vacationing couple impacted by the husband’s cowardly reaction to a sudden avalanche.

“We have lots of returning alumni this year, which really says a lot about the community that we create,” said festival director John Cooper, pointing to Miranda July (“Kajillionaire”), Dee Rees (“The Last Thing He Wanted”), Benh Zeitlin (“Wendy”), and Sean Durkin (“The Nest”).

Among the first-timers making their feature debuts at this year’s festival, Cooper explained, “We’re seeing a lot more of how they tell a story, even if it’s an old story, with a lot more creativity.”

Janicza Bravo’s energetic road-trip movie “Zola,” which premieres in U.S. dramatic competition, was inspired by a stripper’s marathon tweet storm.

In the more experimental NEXT section, director Eugene Kotlyarenko’s “Spree” presents itself as a wild-and-crazy live stream, while Danny Madden’s “Beast Beast” plays with the language of viral videos.

Advances in technology are huge factors, noted Cooper and Sundance director of programming Kim Yutani. Ongoing advances in accessible and affordable filmmaking equipment are enabling individuals who previously wouldn’t have had the means to tell their stories. That in turn bolsters the Sundance Institute’s commitment to diversity.

Whereas many organizations joined the gender parity pledge “50/50 by 2020,” Sundance achieved that goal in its main competition category way back in 2013, a year when half the filmmakers vying for top jury prize were women.

This year, of the 65 directors in Sundance’s four competition categories, 46% are women, 38% are people of color, and 12% identify as LGBTQ.

Across all categories, 44% were directed by one or more women, while 36% were created by at least one director of color.

“We always approach our process in a way where we’re thinking about who’s making the films and who gets in, but also, we’re always looking for excellence. We hope that all of our missions coalescence into an interesting, diverse, and strong program,” Yutani said. “In the past few years, we’ve been reporting our submission numbers, and I think that is something that’s been really crucial to exposing our process in a way, to show who is submitting films, and with that knowledge, we’re able to see where the issues are, where the cracks lie, and what needs work.”