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Leslye Headland, Amy Berg, Jennifer Siebel Newsom to Debut Films at Sundance 2015

Leslye Headland, Amy Berg, Jennifer Siebel Newsom to Debut Films at Sundance 2015

Nine women-directed narrative and documentary features (out of a total of 29 premieres) will make their debuts at next year’s Sundance Film Festival. 

Among the much-anticipated first-time presentations will be Leslye Headland’s dark romance Sleeping With Other People, Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s exploration of masculinity The Mask You Live In, and Amy Berg’s FLDS-focused Prophet’s Prey. A pair of important female entertainers will get their due as well: comedian Tig Notaro in Kristina Goolsby and Ashley York’s Tig and Nina Simone in Liz Garbus’ What Happened, Miss Simone? 

In addition, Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Jenji Kohan, Kristen Wiig, and New Yorker critic Emily Nussbaum will discuss women and comedy in a panel called "Power of Stories: Serious Ladies."

Below are the women-directed films that will make their premieres at Sundance 2015. Descriptions are courtesy of the festival. 


A showcase of world premieres of some of the most highly anticipated narrative films of the coming year.

Mississippi Grind/ U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden) — Gerry is a talented poker player whose habit is getting the best of him. He convinces younger player Curtis to join him on a road trip, and they begin gambling their way towards a high-stakes game in New Orleans. During their journey, true motivations are revealed, and the two bond. Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Ben Mendelsohn, Sienna Miller, Analeigh Tipton, Alfre Woodard, Robin Weigert.

Sleeping With Other People/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Leslye Headland) — Jake and Lainey impulsively lose their virginity to each other in college. When their paths cross twelve years later in NYC, they realize they both have become serial cheaters. Bonding over their chronic infidelity, they form a platonic friendship to support each other in their quests for healthy romantic relationships. Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Adam Scott, Amanda Peet, Jason Mantzoukas, Natasha Lyonne.

Ten Thousand Saints/ U.S.A. (Directors: Robert Pulcini, Shari Springer Berman, Screenwriters: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini) — Based on the acclaimed novel, Ten Thousand Saints follows three lost kids and their equally lost parents as they come of age in New York’s East Village in the era of CBGB, yuppies, and the tinderbox of gentrification that exploded into the Tompkins Square Park Riot of 1988. Cast: Ethan Hawke, Asa Butterfield, Emily Mortimer, Julianne Nicholson, Hailee Steinfeld, Emile Hirsch.

Zipper/ U.S.A. (Director: Mora Stephens, Screenwriters: Mora Stephens, Joel Viertel) — Sam Ellis is a man on the rise — a hot-shot federal prosecutor on the cusp of a bright political future. But what was meant to be a one-time experience with an escort turns into a growing addiction — a new demon threatening to destroy his life, family, and career. Cast: Patrick Wilson, Lena Headey, Richar Dreyfuss, Ray Winstone, John Cho, Dianna Agron.


Renowned filmmakers and films about far-reaching subjects comprise this section highlighting our ongoing commitment to documentaries. Each is a world premiere.

In Football We Trust/ U.S.A. (Directors: Tony Vainuku, Erika Cohn) — Four young Polynesian football players struggle to overcome gang violence and poverty as they enter the high-stakes world of recruiting, competitive athletics and family pressures.

The Mask You Live In/ U.S.A. (Director: Jennifer Siebel Newsom) — Is there a "boy crisis" in America? Is our male population suffering due to our emphasis on power, dominance, and aggression? The Mask You Live In explores how our narrow definition of masculinity is harming our boys, men, and society at large and unveils what we can do about it.

Prophet’s Prey/ U.S.A. (Director: Amy Berg) — When Warren Jeffs rose to prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he bridged the gap between sister wives and ecclesiastically justified rape, befuddling the moral compass of his entire congregation.

Tig/ U.S.A. (Directors: Kristina Goolsby, Ashley York, Screenwriter: Jennifer Arnold) — This documentary explores comedian Tig Notaro’s extraordinary journey as her life unfolds in grand and unexpected ways, all while she is battling a life-threatening illness and falling in love.

What Happened, Miss Simone?/ U.S.A. (Director: Liz Garbus) — Classically trained pianist, dive-bar chanteuse, black power icon, and legendary recording artist Nina Simone lived a life of brutal honesty, musical genius, and tortured melancholy. This astonishing epic interweaves never-before-heard recordings and rare footage, creating an unforgettable portrait of one of our least understood, most beloved artists. DAY ONE FILM


One-of-a-kind moments highlighting new independent works that add to the unique Festival experience. An evolving section, this year includes episodic work, short films and live performance.

The Sundance Institute Short Film Challenge— An international shorts program designed to spark global conversation highlighting human ingenuity and imaginative solutions real people are creating to overcome challenges like extreme hunger and poverty. Filmmakers include Sundance Institute alumni Gael Garcia Bernal, Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady, Diego Luna, Marialy Rivas, and six storytellers from around the world. Presented with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Way of the Rain/ U.S.A. (Creative Director: Sibylle Szaggars Redford, Collaborators: Will Calhoun, Dave Eggar, Chuck Palmer, Desmond Richardson, Ron Saint Germain, Steve Cohen, Floyd Thomas McBee III) — A live multidisciplinary performance art inspired by the annual monsoon rains that sustain life on the fragile high desert plateaus of the southwest. Conceived by environmental artist Sibylle Szaggars Redford and world-renowned artistic collaborators, this unique work comes to life through paintings, music, dance, film, light and spoken word. Special Guest Appearances: Sussan Deyhim, Marc Roberge, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Robert Redford. LIVE PERFORMANCE


The Festival’s “Power of Story” panel series deepens public engagement with storytelling, explores cinema culture and celebrates artists whose work pushes the form. These events will be live streamed on

Power of Story: Serious Ladies— The range of three-dimensional female characters on film and television suggest a sea change in the cultural zeitgeist. Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Jenji Kohan, Kristen Wiig and New Yorker critic Emily Nussbaum discuss anti-heroes and archetypes, using humor to push boundaries and how far art can go in exploring truths.

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Monika N

Also missing from this list is documentary Hot Girls Wanted (Directors: Jill Bauer & Ronna Gradus)

Greg G

What about Shari Springer Berman?!

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