Each year after Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, and Cannes, IndieWire runs a list of rising women directors whose names deserve to be on moviegoers’ radars (see our lists from 2017, 2018, and 2019). The festival circuit plays a crucial step in giving visibility to emerging filmmaking voices, which is why the loss of SXSW, Tribeca, and Cannes in their traditional forms this year has been so devastating.
In a normal year, the majority of directors below would have already had major profile boosts with breakthrough festival titles. But 2020 is no normal year. Regardless, IndieWire was able to see enough great films that were meant for SXSW and Tribeca, plus our Sundance favorites, to be able to offer this year’s list of must-know rising women directors.
What makes a “rising” filmmaker? Some of the directors below are first-time filmmakers with debuts that force you to take notice of their voices. Others are documentarians who are moving into the narrative space. Some directors returned this year after decades with new films that kicked their directing career back into high gear. Not every director below is “new,” but each one has been included because 2020 is the year they elevated their directing profile in breakthrough ways.
Check out IndieWire’s list of 20 rising women directors to know in 2020 below. Filmmakers are listed in alphabetical order.