In a society driven by content consumption, the web series format has carved a new avenue as a standard format for filmmakers in the festival space. Among an impressive lineup, the series Would You Rather, created by Lise Akoka, captivates audiences with its four lead characters and thought provoking dialogue; all in less than 10 minute episodes. While the premise of teen exploration throughout adolescence is not new, the formula it follows innovates the old way of short format storytelling. While short films still are the bread and butter of short form content, web series are the new trains to catch.
When it comes to media, the conversation surrounding diversity has always been a relevant one. Fortunately, with each passing year, the talent on and off screens have become more diverse and representative of the world we live in. Following suit, this year’s programming provided an astounding level of female, queer, and POC driven stories, touching on topics ranging from bodily integrity, sexuality, and gender identity.
50% of the 140 projects in the Sundance Festival lineup were directed by women, 51% were directed by one or more artists of color and 15% were directed by one or more LGBTQ+ identifying individuals.
At the third annual Canada Goose and IndieWire "Female Filmmakers" talk, taken virtual this year in the form of a Zoom “dinner,” the all women panel of directors discussed in detail the positively, staggering statistics of this year’s lineup that set Sundance apart. CODA director Sian Heder brought the best soundbite of the evening saying, “We are half the stories that need to be told.”
More than half of Sundance programming featured first time directors, proving that despite thechallenges the industry faced amid a pandemic and halted production, content still found a way to thrive. More than half of the 2021 feature film slate were by first-time feature filmmakers, with 92% of the lineup being world premieres. For career starters, this year’s festival provided much needed hope amid a pandemic plagued industry.
The Grand Jury Prize and coveted Audience Award went to Director, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson for his auspicious directorial debut documentary Summer of Soul (…Or When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised). During her Cinema Café conversation, Robin Wright eloquently answered Lindsay Bahr’s question on how she knew she was "ready to begin directing feature films?”
Wright answered with a succinct yet powerful statement that should resonate with contemplative filmmakers everywhere. “I always knew,” she told us.
Courtesy of Telly Awards