Women win equal time in Sundance drama competition
This undated publicity photo released by the Sundance Institute shows director, Lake Bell, whose film, "In a World...," is included in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The festival has 50-50 parity in directors, with eight women, eight men, among the 16 films in the competition, a record that female filmmakers consider a hopeful sign that they are making progress toward equal time with males. (AP Photo/Sundance Institute, Jett Steiger)
PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — For the first time, the Sundance Film Festival could do a boy-girl, boy-girl seating arrangement of directors in its U.S. dramatic competition — and not run out of girls.
The festival has 50-50 parity — eight women, eight men — among the 16 films in the competition, a record that female filmmakers consider to be a hopeful sign they are making progress toward equal time with males.
"It just feels like justice. Like, OK, this is the way it's supposed to be. This reflects the population of the earth. There's no reason why there shouldn't be as many women making movies as men," said Lynn Shelton, a Sundance regular whose film "Touchy Feely," starring Rosemarie DeWitt as a massage therapist suddenly averse to touching people, is playing in the dramatic competition. "But I'm also waiting for the day when I'm not treated as an oddity as a woman. I'm just treated as another filmmaker."
Other dramatic entries directed by women include Liz W. Garcia's "The Lifeguard," starring Kristen Bell as a lifeguard who enters a risky relationship with a teen; Stacie Passon's "Concussion," a midlife-crisis tale starring Robin Weigert; Francesca Gregorini's "Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes," with Jessica Biel and Kaya Scodelario in the story of a troubled teen; and Jerusha Hess' "Austenland," featuring Keri Russell as a woman searching for her own Jane Austen-style perfect man.
This Nov. 19, 2012 publicity photo released by the Sundance Institute shows director Lynn Shelton, whose film, "Touchy Feely," is included in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The festival has 50-50 parity in directors, with eight women, eight men, among the 16 films in the competition, a record that female filmmakers consider a hopeful sign that they are making progress toward equal time with males. (AP Photo/Sundance Institute, Luann Smythe)
Sarah Polley has been coming to Sundance with short films and features since 2000 and has seen a steady rise in the presence of women.
"I feel like there's been a seismic shift since I had my first short film at Sundance when I was 20 and now going back today at 34," said Polley, who returns this time with "Stories We Tell," a documentary examining the secret life of her late mother — and just who Polley's real father is. "My first time at Sundance, I spent the whole time just trying to find other female filmmakers. Now you see there's been huge progress."
This year's lineup is not an all-out celebration, though, as women continue to worry about career longevity and whether they can extend their gains in low-budget independent films to big-money Hollywood productions — work that goes predominantly to men.
Equal time at Sundance today does not necessarily mean those women will have a smoother time finding backers for future films, said Cathy Schulman, president of Women in Film, which promotes work by female filmmakers.