Festival Watch: Women Are Taking Over Sundance 2018

With the #MeToo movement cleaning out the bowels of Hollywood, there’s no doubt it will also find solidarity at this year’s festival – one we can all take comfort in knowing Harvey Weinstein will not be attending. The fest is known for spotlighting rising auteurs and celebrating industry favorites. These are just a few we have our eye on this year. And, hallelujah, they are all women.

Christina Choe
Women make up only about 4 percent of those who’ve sat in the director’s chair, and Christina Choe, an award-winning short-film maker, is one of them. We expect her feature directorial debut, Nancy, a thriller about a woman consumed with stretching the truth, to make huge waves. Especially during this politically charged era, when the truth is constantly under attack.

Christine Choe by Zoe White courtesy of Sundance Institute

Andrea Riseborough
Star of Choe’s Nancy, Riseborough is already on the (sorry) rise. Her name is on the lips of every Sundance enthusiast – and not just because she’s rocking four meaty roles at the fest. Rather, Choe describes her Nancy character as the morally ambiguous answer to the Walter Whites of the world. We’re hoping for a breakout – of the best possible kind, of course.

Tessa Thompson
After 2014 sound-off hit Dear White People, Thompson’s career exploded: Selma, Creed, and Thor: Ragnarok – she even voiced a character on Bojack Horseman. The beauty is finally making her way back to the Wasatch Mountains for comedy Sorry to Bother You, solidifying herself a Sundance staple.

Gloria Allred
That’s right. The high-profile, expertly suited lawyer always situated at the core of our country’s most controversial legal cases is the subject of a documentary from Roberta Grossman and Sophie Sartain. And, word has it, they continued filming as the tsunami of sexual harassment allegations broke.

Shakespeare’s Ophelia
Prince Hamlet’s love interest is getting her due in a film directed by Claire McCarthy and starring Daisy Ridley as the titular character and Naomi Watts as Gertrude. Let’s just say it’s a female empowerment take on Hamlet. And let’s just also say, we’re hoping for a bit of, “Go f*** yourself, my lord.”

by Covert Media courtesy of Sundance Institute

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Roll out the red carpet, the notorious R.B.G. is in the house. And, yes, she will actually be in attendance, snow boots and all, chatting up a panel in the Cinema Café. The Supreme Court justice-turned- pop culture icon is also the subject of a documentary from Julie Cohen and Betsy West. All hail.

Joan Jett
Sure, Usher, Blaze Foley, and a guitar-strumming Nick Offerman are a few of the musical dudes getting attention at this year’s fest. But it’s this rebellious 1970’s rocker who has our nostalgia fever running high. The subject of Bad Reputation, she’s also performing for one night only, January 20.

by Kevin Kerslake courtesy of Sundance Institute

Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam
All we wanna do is get a front-row seat to the screening of Matangi/Maya/M.I.A., a long-awaited documentary portrait featuring the provocative Sri Lankan-born performer’s very own footage that spans decades. Perhaps we have our next Searching for Sugarman?

Fatima Dunn
Truth: There are not many female composers. Further truth: Women can do anything men can do. And better. See: Patty Jenkins directing a mega-budget superhero movie and Kathryn Bigelow winning Best Director for a sweaty war thriller. Here to change the tune of the male-dominated composition industry:
Fatima Dunn, who’s musical talents can be heard in Elodie Dermange’s short film, Intimity.

by Elodie Dermange courtesy of Sundance Institute

Morgan Saint
Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) will be on-site again this year, hosing its annual Snowball, a concert showcasing singer/songwriter talent. You can bet our ears are perked for Saint’s moody vocals. Fun fact: She conjures her introspective lyrics from a place we all have access to … the shower.

Lizzie Borden
OK, so she’s the infamous woman from the 19th century who – according to rhyme – took an ax and gave her mother 40 whacks. Though that catchy verse is factually wrong, Borden was tried and acquitted for the murder of her parents. As interesting as that is, it’s Lizzie, a lesbian retelling based on the act and starring Chloe Sevigny and Kristen Stewart, we want to dissect.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Sundance happens January 18 to 28. Find tickets here.

photo by: Courtesy of Sundance Institute; photo by Zoë White