This year’s Sundance Film Festival is already shaping to be an exceptionally, memorable film festival, shaped by diversity and inclusivity. With the long over due, much needed conversation of inclusion taking the entertainment industry by storm in 2018 and producing a significant influence on our political race in this year’s election, an aggressive round of new hires and advancements have been introduced to Sundance Institute’s programming team. New initiatives designed to strengthen the already overwhelming, positive support the film festival offers for independent storytellers, aims to offer storytellers, critics and organizations from under-represented communities, including women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ and people with disabilities a strong platform to express, be heard and hopefully create positive change through storytelling and journalism.
This year, women comprise half of the Sundance Film Festival programming team. This 50/50 balance of gender creates fair, equal perspective in the curation process. The evolution of the programming team includes female new hires Dilcia Barrera joining as Programmer; Stephanie Owens as Associate Programmer; Sudeep Sharma as Shorts Programmer and Ana Souza (formerly a Programming Coordinator) who has been promoted to Manager, Programming / Associate Programmer.
Founded by Robert Redford, in 1981, the Sundance Institute received a record-breaking number of submissions for the 2019 festival, with over 14,200 submissions.
In a statement, Kim Yutani, the Festival’s Director of Programming said “This year’s record-breaking number of submissions are phenomenally strong: we’re invigorated and inspired by the work we’ve been seeing. Our incredible — and growing! — programming team has refined our curation processes, ensuring that the conversations we have as we program continue to center, as always, on a Festival that represents a wide range of filmmakers and on-screen experiences. We’re also continually evolving our process to incorporate data and research findings.”
Sundance Institute extends it’s support for inclusivity within the press by creating a new initiative offering stipend grants to help young journalists with travel and lodging. The stipends will be awarded by a panel lead by Chaz Ebert, Franklin Leonard and Sukhdev Sandhu.
Sundance Institute is taking these initiatives towards stronger, more well balanced journalism. Sundance Institute will collaborate with a valuable selection of organizations from under-represented communities including African American Film Critics Association, Blackhouse Foundation, The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, Muslim Public Affairs Council, Center for Asian American Media and Women In Film.