Launched in 2022, The Latinx House, Women at Sundance, Netflix, and Shondaland announced a joint partnership for The Adelante Directors Fellowship, a new program that will give Latina and nonbinary Latinx directors hands-on entertainment industry experience and connections.
The Adelante Directors Fellowship is a yearlong program that supports professional development for three directors, creating a pipeline to support independent filmmakers throughout their careers.
The fellowship includes the opportunity to shadow an episode of a series, a grant covering the shadowing period, a two-day orientation with master classes, and support from nonprofit The Latinx House. Shondaland and GloNation will provide shadowing opportunities as part of the program on some of their productions as well.
With Four Decades, we spotlight remarkable women directors who premiered their work at the Sundance Film Festival over its 34-year history. Looking back to celebrate these groundbreaking storytellers reframes and expands the dominant narrative typically recounted about American independent film. Every season we will highlight two films per decade—each of which premiered in either U.S. Documentary or Dramatic Competition.
In 2015, Women at Sundance and Women In Film Los Angeles launched the Women’s Resource Map, a user-friendly online database compiling the programs, events, workshops, and services available to U.S.-based women filmmakers. Upon launch in 2015, the Women’s Resource Map attracted over 12,000 viewers to the site in one month, proving its necessity in the field.
In 2019, we updated the map to include resources for artists from a broader array of underrepresented communities (currently including artists who identify as women, people of color, LGBTQ+, trans and nonbinary, and artists with disabilities). Whether you’re looking for funding, mentorship, a lab to support your current project, or a chance to connect with like-minded artists, make the most of the Inclusion Resource Map as your go-to guide!
Check out the Inclusion Resource Map!
The inclusion resource map is a living document and only scratches the surface of the multitude of resources currently serving artists from underrepresented communities. In the spirit of partnership, we welcome and encourage suggestions for additional resources to feature on the map. Please reach out to email@example.com to recommend a resource.
Women at Sundance consistently seeks out and collaborates with corporate partners to generate career opportunities for Sundance Institute alumnae filmmakers. In 2013 we teamed up with Dove to commission a short film from an independent female filmmaker for their “redefining beauty” campaign. The resulting piece, “Selfie,” made by Academy Award–winning documentary director Cynthia Wade, was presented at the Women at Sundance Brunch during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and has attracted more than 5.6 million views on YouTube.
In 2016, Women at Sundance partnered with Refinery29 to recommend emerging and mid-career female filmmakers for their inaugural Shatterbox Anthology, a 12-part commissioned series of female-helmed short films. We’re proud to say that 10 out of the 12 Shatterbox shorts were made by Sundance Institute alumnae directors and producers, and the other two by actors Gabby Sidibe and Chloë Sevigny, who both launched their careers at previous Sundance Film Festivals. We continue to recommend independent women artists each year for this exciting opportunity.
Founded and led by Women In Film and Sundance Institute, ReFrame is a coalition that employs a unique strategy, a peer-to-peer approach, in which ReFrame Ambassadors engage with senior industry decision makers at over 50 partner companies to implement ReFrame systemic change programs. The initiative’s goals are to provide research, support, and a practical framework that can be used by partner companies to mitigate bias during the creative decision-making and hiring process, celebrate successes, and measure progress toward a more gender-representative industry on all levels. ReFrame operates three core programs:
Presented in partnership with IMDbPro, the ReFrame Stamp is a mark of distinction that is publicly awarded to film and television projects that demonstrate gender-balanced hiring. In addition to conducting Stamp data analysis on the Top 100 film and Top 200 television releases annually, ReFrame invites independent productions to apply for the Stamp year-round. Learn more about applying for the Stamp and view our feature film and television awardees.
ReFrame developed a production roadmap to mitigate bias and yield more balanced hiring of women from all backgrounds in film, TV, and media. The roadmap builds on existing diversity programs and provides tools, practices, and training tailored to entertainment executives and creative teams in order to address systemic barriers at each stage of the creative and financing pipeline. Check out the Production Roadmap.
Supported by Hulu, ReFrame Rise is an industry-wide, comprehensive, and multidimensional two-year sponsorship that identifies and provides high-level endorsement and support for eight mid-career women directors who are poised to lead studio features and television projects. Future programs will include sponsorship of women in a myriad of creative positions. Read more about our inaugural class of ReFrame Rise directors.
Exploring the Barriers and Opportunities for Independent Women Filmmakers
Together with Women In Film Los Angeles, we commissioned groundbreaking research in 2013, 2014, and 2015 with Dr. Stacy Smith and her team at USC’s Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism. Before this project, an analysis of gender composition among content creators from the independent-film sector had never been undertaken. The study examines 11 years of the Sundance Film Festival and Sundance Institute labs, analyzing more than 30,000 points of data and dozens of deep-dive qualitative interviews.
We believe that by learning more about how women are faring in the independent-film world, and by opening our own data at Sundance Institute for this study, we gain powerful insights into ways to positively effect progress. Our research has led to a groundswell of media coverage about gender equality in entertainment and was cited in the ACLU and EEOC investigations on gender discrimination in Hollywood.
Just below are thumbnail sketches of the research—but this is only the beginning of what we’ve learned. Click here to read the studies in full.
Race and Gender Analysis of Sundance Submissions and Acceptances
In 2019, we deepened and expanded our work with Dr. Stacy L. Smith at USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative by conducting an in-depth analysis of inclusion metrics across all artist programs at the Institute and the Sundance Film Festival over the past three years (submissions and acceptances). The analysis revealed that 28% of feature-length and episodic projects submitted to the 2017 and 2018 Sundance Film Festivals had at least one woman director, as did 34.1% of shorts. Of feature films and episodic content accepted in 2017 and 2018, 35% had a woman director, as did 51.4% of short films! Examining submissions and acceptances reveals how interested women and people of color are in debuting their independent work at the Festival. See here for the full study.
In 2019, 241 projects from 49 countries premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Of those, we were excited to announce that 47% , or 113, of all films and projects were directed or created by one or more women. In celebration of these vital women’s voices, see below for a list of women-helmed media that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival:
Your Guide to All the Women-Directed Projects at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival
Your Guide to All the Women-Directed Projects at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival
Your Guide to All the Women-Directed Projects at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival
Your Guide to All the Women-Helmed Projects at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival
Your Guide to All the Women-Helmed Projects at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival
We also program panels in the Offscreen section of the Sundance Film Festival. An incredible moment during the 2015 Festival featured storytellers Lena Dunham (Girls), Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project, The Office), Jenji Kohan (Orange Is the New Black, Weeds), and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, Saturday Night Live), in the sold-out “Power of Story” panel moderated by the New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum. Sundance Institute’s short piece “She Is a Best Director” showcases these highlights.
At the annual Women at Sundance Celebration, a community of eight hundred artists, industry members, opinion makers, activists, and supporters gather to celebrate Festival films made by women and to take stock of both the accomplishments and the work yet to be done. Each year, the event features a lively program; past participants have included Tessa Thompson, Abigail Disney, Kerry Washington, Kimberly Steward, Stacy Smith, Donna Langley, Elizabeth Banks, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin. In 2019 the program featured short performances and talks by key female creators, talent, and subjects drawn from films premiering at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Gurinder Chadha, Zora Howard, Tayarisha Poe, Dr. Ruth, Nanfu Wang, and Jessica Williams all took the stage to riff on the idea of “risk.” In 2021, the Women at Sundance celebration was transformed into a virtual speakeasy called “Conjuring the Collective,” and featured Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison (Ailey), director Siân Heder, and actor Marlee Matlin (CODA), actor Rita Moreno (Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided to Go For It), actor SOKO (Mayday, The Blazing World), as well as a very special appearance by recording artist Brittany Howard.
See below for links to the most recent celebrations:
Together, Sundance Institute and The Harnisch Foundation launched Catalyst Women, a groundbreaking new program offering creative investors the opportunity to directly support women-led projects seeking financing. We have joined forces to combat one of the major obstacles to gender parity in independent film: a lack of access to capital among women filmmakers.
The inaugural Catalyst Women took place May 4–5, 2017, in New York City. The goal? To connect film financiers dedicated to women artists with highly anticipated Sundance Institute–supported feature and documentary projects. The day-and-a-half program, which took us from HBO headquarters in Bryant Park to Bloomberg Philanthropies on the upper east side, exposed creative investors to the world of independent storytelling through film presentations, case studies, panels, deep-dive roundtables, and artist spotlights.
Starting in 2012, Women at Sundance offered a robust and bespoke yearlong fellowship for six mid-career women directors and producers looking to forge paths toward career sustainability. Our goal is to advance proven mid-career filmmakers in navigating the challenges and goals that each have identified for themselves to level up in their careers. The fellowship includes industry mentorship, professional coaching offered by Renee Freedman & Company supported by The Harnisch Foundation, an artist-sustainability grant, travel to the Sundance Film Festival to participate in curated activities, and bespoke year-round support. Alumni include a diverse group of talented women, including Janicza Bravo, Ava DuVernay, Rebecca Green, Marielle Heller, Gabrielle Nadig, Jennifer Phang, Lyric R. Cabral, Jessica Devaney, Ramona Diaz, Cristina Ibarra, Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, and Lana Wilson.
Our research revealed that the most frequent barrier cited by independent women filmmakers was lack of knowledge around and access to film financing. Every spring, Women at Sundance and WIF Los Angeles present a Financing and Strategy Intensive designed to help women filmmakers representing 12–20 fiction and nonfiction projects hone their confidence and presentation skills; craft stronger pitches; formulate actionable, strategic steps to meaningfully advance and fund their projects; and interface with potential financiers and partners. A curated group of artists from Sundance Institute programs and Women In Film’s membership are invited to attend. The Financing and Strategy Intensive is an annual event that takes place in Los Angeles and transitioned to a virtual platform in 2020.
In 2020, we partnered with Adobe to launch the inaugural year of the Sundance Women to Watch Adobe Fellowship. The Fellowship is designed to meaningfully support women artists creating bold new work in film and media, with a priority on filmmakers from historically underrepresented communities. The fellowship includes a cash grant, skill-building workshops, connection to the Sundance ELEVATE professional development track, and a 12-month Adobe Creative Cloud membership. The fellows are selected by Adobe from Sundance Institute’s community of supported artists across program disciplines.
Starting in 2012, Women at Sundance offered a robust and bespoke yearlong fellowship for six mid-career women directors and producers looking to forge paths toward career sustainability. In 2018, we expanded the highly impactful model of the Women at Sundance Fellowship in order to build a larger inclusion-focused and intersectional Momentum Fellowship. This year-long fellowship combines six women artists, with an additional two mid-career artists from other select underrepresented communities (artists identifying as nonbinary or transgender, artists of color, and artists with disabilities). Our goal is to advance proven mid-career filmmakers in navigating the challenges and goals that each have identified for themselves to level up in their careers.
The fellowship includes industry mentorship, professional coaching offered by Renee Freedman & Company supported by The Harnisch Foundation, an artist-sustainability grant, travel to the Sundance Film Festival to participate in curated activities, and bespoke year-round support. Participation in the Momentum Fellowship is by invitation only.
Alumni include a diverse group of talented women, including Linda Yvette Chávez, Christina Choe, Cristina Costantini, Natalie Erika James, Loira Limbal, Ekwa Masangi, Eva Vives, Malika Zouhali-Worrall, and many more.
Ariel Investments, LLC
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
The Charles Engelhard Foundation
Entertainment Industry Foundation
Jeanne Donovan Fisher
Cindy and Alan Horn
Occidental Petroleum Corporation
Geoffrey K. Sands
Steve Tisch Foundation
Walter L. Weisman