“Diversity matters," says Janicza Bravo, writer/director of Zola. “It matters because when we give ourselves the room to invite varied voices from varied backgrounds, we allow ourselves to be better and stronger and wiser. When we invite others in, we invite growth.”
At the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, Janicza Bravo invited the audience to join her titular heroine on a wild cross-country road trip inspired by a viral Twitter thread. Equal parts absurdist comedy and tightly plotted thriller, Zola feels like a project that could only have been made by the New York–based writer/director’s assured hands.
The same can be said for Lulu Wang’s award-winning 2019 Festival project, The Farewell, a moving, semi-autobiographical cross-cultural portrait of a family’s grief and loss. Along the road to getting the project made, Lulu encountered pressure from executives and financiers to make compromises on her script, but she held firm, sticking to her original vision of shooting the project with mostly Mandarin dialogue.
Both of these projects illustrate the importance of creative freedom and highlight the inherent power of storytelling. They also remind us of a core tenet that guides us as an Institute: the belief that representation and perspective matter. As we chart our course forward during a crucial time for our country and the world at large, we recognize that we must continue to support this work through our labs, grants, Festival, and programs. It is vital that we deepen our commitment to supporting artists from a wide range of backgrounds who can share stories that reflect their own lived experiences.
We now look to you to help us amplify the voices of the next generation of independent artists. Over the next four weeks, we’re looking to raise $50,000, all of which will go towards supporting storytellers across ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, abilities, and geographic regions. Learn more about the impact your gift will have by listening to stories from Sundance Institute–supported artists and join our community by making a donation today.
HEAR FROM THE ARTISTS
CO-DIRECTOR, CRIP CAMP
WRITER/DIRECTOR, THE FAREWELL
ACTRESS/CO-CREATOR, THE OA
WRITER/DIRECTOR/PRODUCER, JOJO RABBIT
HELP US AMPLIFY INDEPENDENT VOICES