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Sundance 2016 Competition Lineup Unveiled, Over 40% Directed by Women

Sundance 2016 Competition Lineup Unveiled, Over 40% Directed by Women

Sundance has released the competition slate for the 2016 installment of the festival, and nearly half of the program is women-directed. Of the 54 films that have been announced in competition with a credited director, 22 are directed by women (amounting to 41%). Last year, 36%, or slightly more than a third, of the films in competition were helmed or co-helmed by female filmmakers. 

Women directors will feature characters as diverse as female reporters and investment bankers to mermaid sisters and anarchists, and in the documentary categories, subjects include cyber-bullied teens and controversial former U.S. congressman Anthony Weiner. 

Actress Clea DuVall (“The Lizzie Borden Chronicles,” “American Horror Story”) will make her feature directorial debut with “The Intervention,” which she also wrote and stars in. The film follows a couple’s getaway inspired not by romance, but the plan to stage an intervention.

Here’s the breakdown for each competition section:

U.S. Dramatic Competition: 5/16 directed or co-directed by women
U.S. Documentary Competition: 6/15 directed or co-directed by women (Note: 16 films have been announced, but one of the directors is identified as “undisclosed,” so their sex is unknown.) 
World Cinema Competition: 7/12 directed or co-directed by women 
World Cinema Documentary Competition: 4/11 directed or co-directed by women (Note: One film in this category has yet to be announced. There will be 12 titles total.)

The NEXT category, known for highlighting innovative storytelling, features only one female-helmed film, Anna Rose Holmer’s “The Fits,” an exploration of an 11-year-old girl’s struggle with pressure to perform femininity. The other eight films in the lineup are directed by men.

Below you’ll find a list of the women centric, directed and written films at Sundance, adapted from a press release. Plot summaries courtesy of the Sundance Institute. 


Presenting the world premieres of 16 narrative
feature films, the Dramatic Competition offers Festivalgoers a first look at
groundbreaking new voices in American independent film.
You Are
U.S.A. Co-Written by Madison Harrison — As You Are is the telling and retelling of a
relationship between three teenagers as it traces the course of their
friendship through a construction of disparate memories prompted by a police
Cast: Owen Campbell,
Charlie Heaton, Amandla Stenberg, John Scurti, Scott Cohen, Mary Stuart
Masterson. World Premiere

Christine / U.S.A. (Female-centric) — In 1974, a female
TV news reporter aims for high standards in life and love in Sarasota, Florida.
Missing her mark is not an option. This story is based on true events. Cast: Rebecca Hall, Michael C.
Hall, Maria Dizzia, Tracy Letts, J. Smith-Cameron. World Premiere

Equity / U.S.A. Directed by Meera Menon; Written by Amy Fox (Female-centric)   —  A female investment banker,
fighting to get a promotion at her competitive Wall Street firm, leads a
controversial tech IPO in the post-financial-crisis world, where regulations are
tight but pressure to bring in big money remains high. Cast: Anna Gunn, James Purefoy,
Sarah Megan Thomas, Alysia Reiner
. World Premiere

U.S.A. Directed and Written by Clea DuVall — A weekend getaway for four
couples takes a sharp turn when one of the couples discovers the entire trip
was orchestrated to host an intervention on their marriage. Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Cobie Smulders, Alia Shawkat,
Clea DuVall, Natasha Lyonne, Ben Schwartz. World Premiere

Lovesong / U.S.A. Directed and Co-Written by So Yong Kim (Female-centric) —
Neglected by her husband, Sarah embarks on an impromptu road trip with her
young daughter and her best friend, Mindy. Along the way, the dynamic between
the two friends intensifies before circumstances force them apart. Years later,
Sarah attempts to rebuild their intimate connection in the days before Mindy’s
wedding. Cast: Jena Malone, Riley Keough,
Brooklyn Decker, Amy Seimetz, Ryan Eggold, Rosanna Arquette. World Premiere

Tallulah / U.S.A. Directed and Written by Sian Heder (Female-centric) — A rootless young woman takes a
toddler from a wealthy, negligent mother and passes the baby off as her own in
an effort to protect her. This decision connects and transforms the lives of
three very different women. Cast: Ellen Page,
Allison Janney, Tammy Blanchard, Evan Jonigkeit, Uzo Aduba. World Premiere

U.S.A. Directed and Written by Elizabeth Wood (Female-centric) — Summer, New York City: A
college student goes to extremes to get her drug dealer boyfriend out of jail. Cast: Morgan Saylor, Brian ‘Sene’
Marc, Justin Bartha, Chris Noth, India Menuez, Adrian Martinez. World Premiere

Sixteen world-premiere American documentaries that
illuminate the ideas, people, and events that shape the present day.
& Daisy
 / U.S.A. Co-Directed by Bonni Cohen (Female-centric) — After two high
school girls in different towns are sexually assaulted by boys they consider
friends, online bullying leads each girl to attempt suicide. Tragically, one
dies. Assault in the social media age is explored from the perspectives of the
girls and boys involved, as well as their torn-apart communities. World Premiere
Holy Hell /
U.S.A. (Director: undisclosed) — Just out of college, a young filmmaker joins a
loving, secretive, and spiritual community led by a charismatic teacher in
1980s West Hollywood. Twenty years later, the group is shockingly torn apart.
Told through two decades of the filmmaker’s archival materials, this is their
story. World Premiere 

Plays Christine
U.S.A. (Female-centric) — This psychological thriller follows actor
Kate Lyn Sheil as she prepares to play the role of Christine Chubbuck, a
Florida television host who committed suicide on air in 1974. Christine’s
tragic death was the inspiration for Network, and the mysteries surrounding her final act haunt Kate and
the production. World Premiere

Kiki / U.S.A.,
Sweden. Directed by Sara Jordenö — Through a strikingly intimate and visually
daring lens, Kiki offers a
riveting, complex insight into a safe space created and governed by LGBTQ
youths of color, who are demanding happiness and political power. The film is
an exciting coming-of-age story about agency, resilience, and the
transformative art form of voguing. World Premiere

Newtown / U.S.A. Directed by Kim A. Snyder — After joining the ranks of a growing club no one
wants to belong to, the people of Newtown, Connecticut, weave an intimate story
of resilience. This film traces the aftermath of the worst mass shooting of
schoolchildren in American history as the traumatized community finds a new
sense of purpose. World Premiere

NUTS! / U.S.A. Directed by Penny Lane — The mostly true story of Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, an
eccentric genius who built an empire with his goat-testicle impotence cure and
a million-watt radio station. Animated reenactments, interviews, archival
footage, and one seriously unreliable narrator trace his rise from poverty to
celebrity and influence in 1920s America. World Premiere

Trapped / U.S.A.Directed by Dawn Porter (Female-centric) — American
abortion clinics are in a fight for survival. Targeted Regulation of Abortion
Providers (TRAP) laws are increasingly being passed by states that maintain
they ensure women’s safety and health, but as clinics continue to shut their
doors, opponents believe the real purpose of these laws is to outlaw abortion. 
World Premiere

Weiner / U.S.A. Co-Directed by Elyse
Steinberg — With unrestricted access to Anthony Weiner’s New York City mayoral
campaign, this film reveals the human story behind the scenes of a high-profile
political scandal as it unfolds, and offers an unfiltered look at how much
today’s politics is driven by an appetite for spectacle. World Premiere


Twelve films from emerging filmmaking talents
around the world offer fresh perspectives and inventive styles.

Good Wife
Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia. Directed and Co-Written by Mirjana Karanovic (Female-centric) — When 50-year-old Milena finds
out about the terrible past of her seemingly ideal husband, while
simultaneously learning of her own cancer diagnosis, she begins an awakening
from the suburban paradise she has been living in. Cast: Mirjana Karanovic, Boris
Isakovic, Jasna Djuricic, Bojan Navojec, Hristina Popovic, Ksenija Marinkovic.
World Premiere

The Lure /
Poland. Directed by Agnieszka Smoczynska (Female-centric) — Two
mermaid sisters, who end up performing at a nightclub, face cruel and bloody
choices when one of them falls in love with a beautiful young man. Cast: Marta Mazurek, Michalina
Olszanska, Jakub Gierszal, Kinga Preis, Andrzej Konopka, Zygmunt Malanowicz.
International Premiere

Joy, Female Love
China. Directed and Written by Yao Huang — Portrays an unlimited cycle of
love stories. Cast: Nan Yu, Daizhen
Ying, Xiaodong Guo, Yi Sun. World Premiere

Mammal / Ireland,
Luxembourg, Netherlands. Directed and Co-Written by Rebecca Daly (Female-centric) — After Margaret, a divorcée living in Dublin, loses her
teenage son, she develops an unorthodox relationship with Joe, a homeless
youth. Their tentative trust is threatened by his involvement with a violent
gang and the escalation of her ex-husband’s grieving rage. Cast: Rachel Griffiths, Barry
Keoghan, Michael McElhatton. World Premiere

Amiga del Parque
Argentina, Uruguay. Directed and Co-Written by Ana Katz (Female-centric) — Running away from a bar without paying the bill is just the first
adventure for Liz (mother to newborn Nicanor) and Rosa (supposed mother to
newborn Clarisa). This budding friendship between nursing mothers starts with
the promise of liberation but soon ends up being a dangerous business. Cast: Julieta Zylberberg, Ana
Katz, Maricel Álvarez, Mirella Pascual, Malena Figó, Daniel Hendler.
International Premiere

Israel. Directed and Written by Elite Zexer (Female-centric) — When their entire lives are
shattered, two Bedouin women struggle to change the unchangeable rules, each in
her own individual way. Cast: Lamis Ammar, Ruba
Blal-Asfour, Hitham Omari, Khadija Alakel, Jalal Masrwa. World Premiere

Wild / Germany. Directed and Written by Nicolette Krebitz (Female-centric) — An anarchist young woman
breaks the tacit contract with civilization and fearlessly decides on a life
without hypocrisy or an obligatory safety net. Cast: Lilith Stangenberg, Georg
Friedrich. World Premiere

Twelve documentaries by some of the most
courageous and extraordinary international filmmakers working today.
Eleven documentaries are listed below, and a
twelfth will be announced in the weeks ahead.

Hooligan Sparrow / China,
U.S.A. Directed by Nanfu Wang (Female-centric) — Traversing southern China, a group of activists
led by Ye Haiyan, a.k.a. Hooligan Sparrow, protest a scandalous incident in
which a school principal and a government official allegedly raped six
students. Sparrow becomes an enemy of the state, but detentions, interrogations
and evictions can’t stop her protest from going viral. World Premiere

Plaza de la Soledad / Mexico. Directed by Maya Goded (Female-centric) — For over 20 years, photographer Maya Goded has
intimately documented the lives of a close community of prostitutes in Mexico
City. With dignity and humor, these women now strive for a better life — and
the possibility of true love. World Premiere

Sonita / Germany,
Iran, Switzerland. Directed by Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami (Female-centric) — If 18-year-old Sonita
had a say, Michael Jackson and Rihanna would be her parents and she’d be a
rapper who tells the story of Afghan women and their fate as child brides. She
finds out that her family plans to sell her to an unknown husband for $9,000. North American Premiere

Two Worlds Collide
Peru. Co-Directed by Heidi Brandenburg — An indigenous leader
resists the environmental ruin of Amazonian lands by big business. As he is
forced into exile and faces 20 years in prison, his quest reveals conflicting
visions that shape the fate of the Amazon and the climate future of our world.World Premiere

Pure, bold works distinguished by an innovative,
forward-thinking approach to storytelling populate this program. Digital
technology paired with unfettered creativity promises that the films in this
section will shape a “greater” next wave in American cinema. Presented by Adobe.
The Eyes
of My Mother
 / U.S.A. (Female-centric) — A young, lonely woman is consumed by her deepest and darkest desires
after tragedy strikes her quiet country life. Cast: Kika Magalhães,
Will Brill, Paul Nazak, Flora Diaz, Clara Wong, Diana Agostini. World Premiere

Girl I Loved
 / U.S.A. (Women-centric)
— Seventeen-year-old Anne just fell in love with Sasha, the most popular girl
at her L.A. public high school. But when Anne tells her best friend,
Clifton—who has always harbored a secret crush on her—he does his best to get
in the way. Cast: Dylan Gelula,
Brianna Hildebrand, Mateo Arias, Jennifer Prediger, Tim Heidecker, Pamela
Adlon. World Premiere

U.S.A., Italy. Directed by Anna Rose Holmer; Written by Anna Rose Holmer,
Saela Davis, Lisa Kjerulff (Women-centric) — In this psychological portrait, Toni, an
11-year-old tomboy, is assimilating into a tight-knit dance team in
Cincinnati’s West End when a mysterious outbreak of fainting spells plagues the
team, and her desire for acceptance is twisted. Cast: Royalty Hightower, Alexis
Neblett, Da’Sean Minor, Lauren Gibson, Makyla Burnam, Inayah Rodgers. North
American Premiere

Jacqueline (Argentine) / U.S.A.
(Women-centric) — A young French woman hires a man
to document her self-imposed political asylum in Argentina after supposedly
leaking highly confidential government secrets. Cast: Camille Rutherford, Wyatt
Cenac, James Benson, Martin Anderson, Sarah Willis, Enrique Dura. World Premiere


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