Women Direct at Sundance

Starring Ridley, Watts, and Gyllenhaal

Maggie Gyllenhaal stars in "The Kindergarten Teacher" premiering at the Sundance Film Festival

BY: Claire Connors

This year the Sundance Film Festival makes a giant leap forward in gender equality, and the timing couldn’t be better. As the veil is being lifted on the misogynist attitude toward women in Hollywood, where only 4% of all feature films produced are helmed by women, Sundance stands tall in its inclusiveness to gender, sexuality, and racial diversity. Of the 110 films at Sundance 2018, 37% are female directed. Here are five we are particularly excited about.

The Kindergarten Teacher
Maggie Gyllenhaal stars in this remake of a 2014 Israeli film by the same name. She plays a weary Staten Island teacher who discovers child she thinks may be a prodigy in her classroom. She becomes obsessed with the young poet, risking everything—her job and her family—to nurture his talent. Directed by Sara Colangelo and produced by Trudie Styler, this is truly a film about women, by women.

The origin story of Hamlet’s tortured lover has been a long time coming. Leave it to woman to tell it. Australian director Claire McCarthy casts Star Wars heroine Daisy Ridley in the titular role as the trusted lady-in-waiting to Hamlet’s mother, Queen Gertrude (Naomi Watts) and the beautiful longhaired girl who won Hamlet’s (George MacKay) heart. Heartthrob Clive Owen is the evil uncle who poisoned Hamlet’s father and hopes to marry his mother.

I Think We’re Alone Now
Director and cinematographer Reed Marano has been impressing us for years now. She shot Beyoncé’s Lemonade and the documentary Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, directed three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, and is presenting her newest film, I Think We’re Alone Now in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. Starring Peter Dinklage (really, she had us GOTs Tyrion Lannister), as a recluse happily surviving solo in a post-apocalyptic world, until a young woman (Elle Fanning) shows up, threatening to ruin his solidarity.

Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist
Director Lorna Tucker takes on the remarkable tale of one of the most inventive provocateurs in the last fifty years, British designer and the Queen of Punk fashion, Vivienne Westwood. At the forefront of DIY fashion scene in the 70s, she produced brash, sexy clothes but was equally as brave and outspoken when it came to her political causes. Westwood remains a force to be reckoned with in her protests against climate change and nuclear disarmament, and support of civil rights.

Half the Picture
The documentary field is traditionally closer to 50/50 in the gender department. The sad fact is, those who finance feature films are more likely to invest in an unknown male director than an established female, paving the way for women to create more nonfiction films. So it’s no coincidence that one of the most anticipated docs at the festival is Half the Picture, directed by Amy Adrion. Featuring female directors speaking frankly about Hollywood’s long history of misogyny and discrimination. Somehow we know that Harvey Weinstein’s name will come up.