During the 40th edition of The Sundance Film Festival, NYWIFT blogger Tammy Reese interviews NYWIFT Member Shivani Rawat, founder of ShivHans Pictures and executive producer of the thought-provoking film Love Me. This captivating film explores a unique premise — long after humanity’s extinction, a buoy and a satellite meet online and unexpectedly fall in love.READ MORE
In a time when women’s reproductive rights are at the forefront of the political and cultural conversation, a group of teenage girls gather to assert their power, prepare for their futures, and determine the best way forward together. Following the smash hit success of their documentary Boys State at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss returned to Park City in 2024 with the companion piece Girls State. NYWIFT Member Laela Kilbourn was one of seven cinematographers on Girls State, assigned to follow one of the protagonist’s throughout her week-long journey. She spoke to us about her experience working on the documentary.READ MORE
During the 40th edition of The Sundance Film Festival, Tammy Reese interviews fellow NYWIFT member Amanda Culkowski, the Executive Producer of As We Speak, a thought-provoking documentary that delves into the intersection of art and justice. Focusing on Bronx rap artist Kemba, the film sheds light on the alarming trend of rap lyrics being weaponized within the United States criminal justice system and beyond.READ MORE
From Tammy Reese: I had the incredible opportunity to cover the 40th edition of the Sundance Film Festival, and it was an absolute blast. From capturing the excitement on the red carpets to immersing myself in the world of independent cinema, every moment was filled with energy and anticipation. Let me take you on a recap of some of the unforgettable film premieres I had the privilege to cover. The red carpets were a spectacle in themselves, as A-list celebrities and emerging talents and filmmakers graced them with their presence. It was a surreal experience witnessing their arrivals and hearing their insights about their latest projects.READ MORE
The wildly inventive 2023 Sundance Film Festival feature film Landscape with Invisible Hand follows Adam, a teenage artist coming of age in the aftermath of an alien takeover. Based on the novel by M.T. Anderson, the genre-bending sci-fi dramatic comedy with a YA twist directed by Cory Finley will come out as a limited release August 18, 2023. NYWIFT member Nitasha Bhambree helped bring the fantastical story to life as the Stunt Coordinator for the film. Since graduating New York University with a focus in dramatic performance and film studies, Nitasha has been employed in the entertainment industry for over 20 years. She regularly stunt doubles lead actresses in various TV shows and films, and has performed stunts in big budget features such as Joker, The Dark Knight Rises, Spider-Man and A Wrinkle in Time, and has stunt coordinated features and TV series for Netflix, Disney, MGM, A24, NBCU, Hulu, HBO Max and Starz/Lionsgate, and Marvel. Nitasha spoke to us about working in the sci-fi genre, her favorite scenes, and her upcoming projects.READ MORE
"My first time covering the Sundance Film Festival in-person was everything I expected it to be. Fun, intense, inspirational, exhausting, and such an honor. Overall, the experience lived up to indeed be the experience of a lifetime. A journalist’s dream, especially mine." Tammy Reese shares her favorite star-studded moments from her trip to Park City for Sundance 2023!READ MORE
In director Tracy Droz Tragos feature documentary Plan C, a hidden grassroots organization doggedly fights to expand access to abortion pills across the United States, keeping hope alive during a global pandemic and the fall of Roe v. Wade. With abortion restrictions and bans going into effect, Francine Coeytaux and her team of providers established Plan C — a grassroots organization dedicated to expanding access to medication abortion. NYWIFT member Jess Jacobs, the film’s executive producer, has a career-long history of activism – including work with the Plan C organization before the movie was even made! She spoke to us about Plan C’s Sundance premiere, her passion for reproductive justice, and the power of community.READ MORE
Since premiering and winning the Jury Prize in the 2022 Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival (the first to do so from the Indian subcontinent), Joyland has moved audiences worldwide with its human portrayal of the limits of love in the face of patriarchy. The film follows the youngest son in a traditional Pakistani family as he takes a job as a backup dancer in a Bollywood-style burlesque, and quickly becomes infatuated with the strong-willed trans woman who runs the show. The film is both a loving portrait of the people of Lahore, Pakistan, and a painful depiction of how rigid traditional gender roles and repressed sexuality can have a ripple effect that harms the whole community. NYWIFT member Katharina Otto-Bernstein, who produced Joyland, spoke to us about discovering new artists through mentorship, political pushback on Joyland, and how Malala Yousafzai helped the film finally reach Pakistani audiences.READ MORE
In the 2023 Sundance Film Festival short film Take Me Home, a cognitively disabled woman and her estranged sister must learn to communicate in order to move forward after their mother’s death. It captures of a moment of terror experienced by so many siblings of those with disabilities, when they are suddenly responsible for making a plan for a loved one who cannot live on their own, potentially upending both their lives as they also work through their grief. For writer and director NYWIFT member Liz Sargent, the story hits close to home. And she cast her own mother and younger sister to play versions of themselves. Sargent spoke to us about finding support in her identity as a sibling guardian, beautiful moments working on set with her family, and her joyous Sundance experience.READ MORE
NYWIFT member Caitlin Gold is the Co-Founder and Co-Head of Film, a private equity fund dedicated to financing narrative and documentary films directed by women. The fund’s tagline is “Films by women make more money, but Hollywood isn’t making them….” Thanks to Gold and her colleagues, that very well may change! Their most recent feature is the Australian film Shayda, which premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival in the World Dramatic Competition and won that category’s Audience Award. Gold spoke to us about Shayda’s path to the screen, funding work by women, and what’s next on her horizon.READ MORE
Developed in partnership with Sundance Institute and Founded by Hartbeat CEO Thai Randolph and Head of Film Candice Wilson Cherry, WOMEN WRITE NOW is a comedic writing fellowship designed to champion the next generation of Black women in comedy through mentorship, advocacy, production, and exhibition. Now in its second year, this year’s fellowship brought in three emerging writers, Mayanna Berrin, Kianna Butler Jabangwe, and Danielle Solomon to develop and produce their comedic short scripts under the guidance of some of the most influential Black women in comedy. The resulting projects were then brought into production by Hartbeat studios. Cherry and the writers spoke to us about their experience.READ MORE
Ericka Nicole Malone Entertainment presents the “Indie Director’s and Creator’s Spotlight” in celebration of diversity in filmmaking at the Sundance Film Festival 2023. Featuring a day of education, industry networking and panels, its evening activation will transform into a Neo Soul lounge with the sultry sounds of 3x Grammy Award-nominated R&B/Neo Soul Singer Angie Stone as the headliner.READ MORE
NYWIFT Advisory Board Member Annetta Marion produced Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie that is premiering at Sundance this month. The film incorporates documentary, archival and scripted elements to recount Fox’s story of personal and professional triumphs and travails in his own words. Annetta and Kathryn O'Kane spoke about the film that explores what happens when an incurable optimist confronts an incurable disease.READ MORE
13 members played a key creative role in 11 different projects featured in Sundance this year – and two of them fall under the Executive Producer expertise of prolific NYWIFT Member Sara Bernstein! Bernstein heads to Sundance with Amy Poehler’s documentary Lucy and Desi, which brings the iconic pair’s humanity to life through an exploration of their personal and professional partnership, as well as Downfall: The Case Against Boeing, comprehensive investigation into the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and a look at the families and officials fighting for justice.
We spoke to Bernstein specifically about Downfall and how she hopes her team’s work will make an impact.
Rachel Lears returns to Sundance on the heels of her 2019 festival smash-hit Knock Down the House, which sold to Netflix for a record $10 million, making it the biggest documentary sale ever brokered at a film festival. The film followed female insurgent candidates hoping to topple incumbents in an electric primary race for Congress, and focused heavily on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as she became the youngest member of the U.S. Congress.
Ocasio-Cortez now appears again in Lears’s To the End, this time as an established leader raising up another generation of young activists. We spoke to Lears about her process, watching Ocasio-Cortez develop as a politician, and why she still has hope in the face of the climate crisis.
NYWIFT member Jen Heck returns to Sundance this year as part of a special retrospective celebrating the 40th anniversary of the festival’s short film program that welcomes back past Sundance projects. Heck wrote and associate produced the comedic short Hold Up, in which a robber is after more than just money during an NYC convenience store hold up. It originally premiered at Sundance in 2006 and has strong ties to the NYWIFT community, as it was directed by member Madeleine Olnek and features Muse Awards host Nancy Giles in one of the three starring roles.
Jen discusses her Sundance experiences both traditional (i.e. sleeping on the floor in Park City) and virtual, as well as her current projects.
For Ekwa Msangi, the journey to Sundance was relatively fast. While her TV and movie-making career was moving along, it was arguably easier to get a footing for some of her East African-inspired TV projects in Kenya and South Africa than in the U.S. But thanks to the generous support of difficult-to-get awards from the Tribeca Film Festival, IFP and others, her career as a filmmaker catapulted into action when Farewell Amor, Ekwa’s feature film directorial debut, screened in the 2020 Sundance Film Festival U.S. dramatic feature competition. Ekwa talked to us about her experience at the fest.READ MORE
The trip to the Sundance Film Festival can be daunting - but NYWIFT Member and Women Independent Producers (WIP) President Adetoro Makinde has ventured to Park City eight times, so it is safe to say she is a Sundance pro! We caught up with her on the eve of the festival to try to glean some wisdom...and see what's in her toolkit both at Sundance and on set.READ MORE