Recap: Sundance Film Festival’s Inclusive First Weekend

Let us reflect on Sundance’s conscious effort to tell the stories that need to be told.

The annual Sundance Film Festival kicked off last weekend, the biggest indie film festival in the United States. Known for opening audience’s eyes to controversial issues and topical films, the first weekend served as just a peak of what to expect in film in the coming years; There were more female directors than ever before on this year’s roster and an increase of directors of color, which, in turn, allows for greater diversity in the stories that were told.

On Friday, Shia Labeouf’s eagerly-awaited film, Honey Boy debuted, in which Labeouf plays his abusive, addict father. The documentary, Leaving Neverland, that addresses Michael Jackson’s sexual assault allegations also made its premiere. And, let us not forget about the parties after a long day of heavy topics; There was the Stella Artois Filmmaker Lounge’s annual Women in Film cocktail party and the star studded Tao’s Park City pop up, with appearances from Lena Waithe, Michael B. Jordan, and a performance from G-Eazy.

On Saturday, Mindy Kaling’s movie, Late Night, opened, a timely story about a female talk show host (Emma Thompson) who gets accused of being a “woman who hates women”. She then hires the first woman in her all-male writer’s room (Kaling). Amazon Studios ended up purchasing the rights for U.S. distribution of the film for $13 million, the biggest sale of the festival this weekend, and, incidentally, a record biggest sale in the history of the festival.

On Sunday, Knock Down the House, a doc that follows four female revolutionaries in politics who are daring to challenge the system, came out. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being one of the women highlighted in the film, made a cameo at the festival via livestream Q&A.

These being just a small crop of all the splashes made at the festival, films like Untouchable, the story of Harvey Weinstein’s predatory behavior made waves, and the biopic about Ted Bundy, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, starring Zac Efron, also garnered a lot of attention.

If there’s any takeaway, it’s that stories of substance are being told, and that marginalized groups are finally getting their moment to tell these stories.

Zac Efron at the Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile world premiere Photo: Getty Images
Nisha Ganatra and Mindy Kaling host a Q&A for Late Night Photo: Getty Images
Shia LaBeouf and Noah Jupe at the Honey Boy premiere Photo: Getty Images
Michael B. Jordan at Tao Park City Photo: Al Powers – Powers Imagery
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Livestream at the premiere of Knock Down the House. Photo: @JenniferBrandel


Now, let’s take a moment to take a look at all the big names celebrating these projects, below!



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