With less than three weeks to go until the first day of the 2020 Sundance Film festival, organizers are revealing details about this year’s film, music, and panel lineup as well as special events that promise to showcase what’s next in movies, television, and cultural influence.
The iconic festival, which takes place January 23 – February 2 in Park City, Utah, is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious independent film festivals in the world. Culled from a record-high number of 15,100 submissions, the final 118 feature-length films that made the cut represent 27 countries and 44 first-time feature filmmakers. Additionally, the Sundance Institute points out that of the 65 directors in all four competition categories, comprising 56 films, 46% are women, 38% are people of color, and 12% are LGBTQ+. In the U.S. Dramatic Competition, 47% of the directors are women; 53% are people of color; 5% are LGBTQ+. In this year’s U.S. Documentary Competition, 45% are women; 23% are people of color; 23% are LGBTQ+ and that 44%, or 52, of all films, announced today were directed by one or more women; 34%, or 40, were directed by one or more filmmaker of color; 15% or 18 by one or more people who are LGBTQ+. 107 of the Festival’s feature films or 91% of the lineup announced today, will be world premieres.
This year’s themes center around everything from the environment to mental illness and everything in between: politics, immigration, the artist experience, the traditional coming of age dramas, and more.
Like 2019 and years past, the indie and mainstream hip-hop communities have a solid influence on the festival. We Are Freestyle Love Supreme makes its debut in the Special Events category. It shows a young Lin-Manuel Miranda in an improv hip-hop group called Freestyle Love Supreme (along with director Thomas Kail and performers Christopher Jackson and Anthony Veneziale). Freestyle Love Supreme was a way for these carefree artists out of college to experiment with theatre and craft their own unique musical sound. This film chronicles a 15-year journey of twists and turns, friendship, and unprecedented musical talent—culminating with much-anticipated reunion performances in New York City in 2019.
In a yet-untitled world documentary film by Amy Ziering and Amy Herdy, tells the story of Drew Dixon, a brilliant former hip hop executive grapples with whether to go public about her rape by Russell Simmons, one of the most powerful men in the music industry. The film has been described as a “gripping and profound examination of race, gender, intersectionality, and the toll sexual abuse takes on survivors and on society at large.”
In the U.S. Dramatic Competition, Radha Blank, a playwright and proud native New Yorker, who has written for hit shows Empire and She’s Gotta Have It, brings us The 40-Year-Old Version, a film about a woman who decides to become a rapper at age 40.
While the festival’s New Frontiers exhibit is sure to wow visitors with the intersection of technology and art (including the All Kinds of Limbo exhibit, which uses immersive technologies to show the influence of West Indian culture on the UK’s music scene across the genres of reggae, grime, classical, and calypso), The Social Dilemma, a highly-anticipated documentary, shows how a handful of tech designers had such control over the way billions of us think, act, and live our lives. Insiders from Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube reveal how these platforms are reprogramming civilization by exposing what’s hiding on the other side of your screen.
Additionally, New Frontiers uses interactive VR and AR technologies to tell the story of incarceration, erasure and gentrification through the lens of one woman who returns to Harlem after 15 years in prison in Still Here.
For the 90’s kids, the first festival of the new decade reminds us that we’re not getting any younger as documentary Happy Happy Joy Joy – The Ren & Stimpy Story tells the story Ren & Stimpy’s meteoric rise to the top of the cable rating records and served as a touchstone for a generation of fans and artists.
For everyone else who wants to enjoy the party while also catching some of the year’s films, popular hip-hop artists and DJs such as Wiz Khalifa, Chainsmokers, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Kaskade, Schwayze, are scheduled to appear in and around Park City during the festival.