2023 Sundance Film Festival

Here’s Your Guide to the Projects by Women Filmmakers at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival

News

Young girl in white tank top and gray pants stands in front of a giant mural of a blue sky with fluffy white clouds, a look of awe upon her face

Lola Campbell appears in “Scrapper,” at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

Of the 101 feature films so far announced as part of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival program, more than half are directed or co-directed by women.

That’s a fairly striking number for an industry in which women leaders have historically been underrepresented — the World Economic Forum reported in March that only 17 percent of directors and writers in the top films of 2021 were women.

This inequality is something the Sundance Institute aims to eliminate. That’s why the nonprofit entity hosts its filmmaking labs and presents grants to underrepresented filmmakers. So, as the 2023 Festival quickly approaches, we are proud to present our list of women-helmed projects screening at the Utah-based event (and some available in the comfort of your home!). (Click here for a guide to the cinema directed by women filmmakers in the Short Films section.)

Among them are the true stories of such iconic performers as Little Richard and the Indigo Girls, new fiction features starring Julia-Louis Dreyfus and CODA’s Emilia Jones, and an exploration of the cultural impact of Judy Blume.

So, as they say, without further ado, what follows here is our list of upcoming Festival features by women filmmakers. Make sure to identify your favorites, and purchase your Festival passes and packages now to gain access to ticket selection ahead of the single film ticket sale in January!

5 Seasons of Revolution

Director: Lina

Section: World Documentary

Available to watch in person and online

An aspiring video journalist in her 20s finds herself already facing self-reckoning. Born in Damascus, Syria, Lina starts to report on the events around her until she is compelled to become a war reporter and, later, the unexpected narrator of her own destiny.

Against the Tide

Director: Sarvnik Kaur

Section: World Documentary

Available to watch in person and online

Two friends, both Indigenous fishermen, are driven to desperation by a dying sea. Their friendship begins to fracture as they take very different paths to provide for their struggling families.

All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt 

Director: Raven Jackson

Section: U.S. Drama

Available to watch in person and online

A decades-spanning exploration of a woman’s life in Mississippi and an ode to the generations of people, places, and ineffable moments that shape us.

Animalia

Director: Sofia Alaoui

Section: World Drama

Available to watch in person and online

A young, pregnant woman finds emancipation as aliens land in Morocco.

 AUM: The Cult at the End of the World

Co-director: Chiaki Yanagimoto 

Section: U.S. Documentary

Available to watch in person and online

On the morning of March 20, 1995, a deadly nerve gas attack in the Tokyo subway sent the nation and its people into chaos. This exploration of Aum Shinrikyo, the cult responsible for the attack, involves the participation of those who lived through the horror as it unfolded.

White woman with dark brown hair pulled back looks directly at camera
Jennifer Connelly appears in "Bad Behavior."

Bad Behaviour

Director: Alice Englert

Section: World Drama

Available to watch in person and online

Lucy, a former child actor, seeks enlightenment at a retreat led by spiritual leader Elon while she navigates her close yet turbulent relationship with her stunt-performer daughter, Dylan.

Bad Press

Co-director: Rebecca Landsberry-Baker

Section: U.S. Documentary

Available to watch in person and online

When the Muscogee Nation suddenly begins censoring its free press, a rogue reporter fights to expose her government’s corruption in a historic battle that will have ramifications for all of Indian country.

Darker-skinned young woman, with a concerned look on her face, and white young woman peer at a laptop screen in a darkened room
Geraldine Viswanathan (left) and Emilia Jones appear in "Cat Person," in the Premieres section of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

Cat Person

Director: Susanna Fogel

Section: Premieres

Available to watch in person and online

College student Margot meets 33-year-old Robert at the movie theater where she works. After a casual flirtation at the concession stand, they carry on conversations through texts. As their perceptions of each other collide, events spiral out of control. Based on The New Yorker short story by Kristen Roupenian.

A Common Sequence

Co-director: Mary Helena Clark

Section: New Frontier

Available to watch in person and online

An interconnected look at tradition, colonialism, property, faith, and science, as seen through labor practices that link an endangered salamander, mass-produced apples, and the evolving fields of genomics and machine learning.

The Deepest Breath

Director: Laura McGann

Section: Premieres

Available to watch in person only

A champion freediver and expert safety diver seemed destined for one another despite the different paths they took to meet at the pinnacle of the freediving world. A look at the thrilling rewards — and inescapable risks — of chasing dreams through the depths of the ocean.

The Disappearance of Shere Hite

Director: Nicole Newnham

Section: U.S. Documentary

Available to watch in person and online

Shere Hite’s 1976 bestselling book, The Hite Report, liberated the female orgasm by revealing the most private experiences of thousands of anonymous survey respondents. Her findings rocked the American establishment and presaged current conversations about gender, sexuality, and bodily autonomy. So how did Shere Hite disappear?

The Eight Mountains

Co-director: Charlotte Vandermeersch

Section: Spotlight

Available to watch in person and online

Pietro spends his childhood summers in the same secluded Italian mountain village where Bruno was raised, in which they form a decades-long friendship. Over the years, their paths diverge as Bruno remains faithful to the mountain while Pietro comes and goes from the city.

The Eternal Memory

Director: Maite Alberdi

Section: World Documentary

Available to watch in person and online

Augusto and Paulina have been together for 25 years. Eight years ago, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Both fear the day he no longer recognizes her.

Fair Play

Director: Chloe Domont

Section: U.S. Drama

Available to watch in person and online 

An unexpected promotion at a cutthroat hedge fund pushes a young couple’s relationship to the brink, threatening to unravel far more than their recent engagement.

Fancy Dance

Director: Erica Tremblay

Section: U.S. Drama

Available to watch in person and online

Following her sister’s disappearance, a Native American hustler kidnaps her niece from the child’s white grandparents and sets out for the state powwow in hopes of keeping what is left of their family intact.

Food and Country

Director: Laura Gabbert

Section: Premieres

Available to watch in person and online

America’s policy of producing cheap food at all costs has long hobbled small independent farmers, ranchers, and chefs. Worried for their survival, trailblazing food writer Ruth Reichl reaches out across political and social divides to uncover the country’s broken food system and the innovators risking it all to transform it.

Girl

Director: Adura Onashile

Section: World Drama

Available to watch in person and online

Eleven-year-old Ama and her mother, Grace, take solace in the gentle but isolated world they obsessively create. Ama’s growing up threatens the boundaries of their tenderness and forces Grace to reckon with a past she struggles to forget.

Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project

Co-director: Michèle Stephenson

Section: U.S. Documentary

Available to watch in person and online

Intimate vérité, archival footage, and visually innovative treatments of poetry take us on a journey through the dreamscape of legendary poet Nikki Giovanni as she reflects on her life and legacy.

Going Varsity in Mariachi

Co-director: Alejandra Vasquez

Section: U.S. Documentary

Available to watch in person and online

In the competitive world of high school mariachi, the musicians from the South Texas borderlands reign supreme. Under the guidance of coach Abel Acuña, the teenage captains of Edinburg North High School’s acclaimed team must turn a shoestring budget and diverse crew of inexperienced musicians into state champions.

Invisible Beauty

Co-director: Bethann Hardison

Section: Premieres

Available to watch in person only

Fashion revolutionary Bethann Hardison looks back on her journey as a pioneering Black model, modeling agent, and activist, shining a light on an untold chapter in the fight for racial diversity.

Is There Anybody Out There?

Director: Ella Glendining

Section: World Documentary

Available to watch in person and online

While navigating daily discrimination, a filmmaker who inhabits and loves her unusual body searches the world for another person like her, and explores what it takes to love oneself fiercely despite the pervasiveness of ableism.

It’s Only Life After All

Director: Alexandria Bombach

Section: Premieres 

Available to watch in person only

Blending 40 years of home movies, film archives, and intimate present-day vérité, a poignant reflection from Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of iconic folk-rock duo Indigo Girls. A timely look into the obstacles, activism, and life lessons of two queer friends who never expected to make it big.

Joonam

Director: Sierra Urich

Section: U.S. Documentary

Available to watch in person and online

Spurred by a provocative family memory and a lifetime of separation from the country her mother left behind, a young filmmaker delves into her mother’s and grandmother’s complicated pasts and her own fractured Iranian identity.

Judy Blume Forever

Directors: Davina Pardo, Leah Wolchok

Section: Premieres

Available to watch in person only

The radical honesty of the books by young-adult fiction pioneer Judy Blume changed the way millions of readers understood themselves, their sexuality, and what it meant to grow up but also led to critical battles against book banning and censorship.

Kim’s Video

Co-director: Ashley Sabin

Section: NEXT

Available to watch in person and online

Playing with the forms and tropes of various cinema genres, the filmmaker sets off on a quest to find a legendary, lost video collection of 55,000 movies in Sicily.

King Coal

Director: Elaine McMillion Sheldon 

Section: NEXT

Available to watch in person and online

The cultural roots of coal continue to permeate the rituals of daily life in Appalachia, even as its economic power wanes. The journey of a coal miner’s daughter exploring the region’s dreams and myths, untangling the pain and beauty as her community sits on the brink of massive change.

Kokomo City

Director: D. Smith

Section: NEXT

Available to watch in person and online 

Four Black transgender sex workers explore the dichotomy between the Black community and themselves while confronting issues long avoided.

La Pecera

Director: Glorimar Marrero Sánchez

Section: World Drama 

Available to watch in person and online

As her cancer spreads, Noelia’s ultimate decision is to return to her native Vieques, Puerto Rico, and claim her freedom to decide her own fate. She reunites with her friends and family, who are still dealing with the contamination of the U.S. Navy after 60 years of military practices.

Last Things

Director: Deborah Stratman

Section: New Frontier

Available to watch in person and online

Evolution and extinction from the point of view of rocks. A humid take on minerals, where sci-fi meets sci-fact. The geo-biosphere is a place of evolutionary possibility, where humans disappear, but life endures.

Little Richard: I Am Everything

Director: Lisa Cortés

Section: U.S. Documentary

Available to watch 

This celebration of Little Richard reveals the Black queer origins of rock ’n’ roll, finally exploding the whitewashed canon of American pop music. Through archival and performance footage, the revolutionary icon’s life unspools with all of its switchbacks and contradictions.

Mamacruz

Director: Patricia Ortega

Section: World Drama

Available to watch in person and online

With the help of her newly emigrated daughter, a religious grandmother learns how to use the internet. However, an accidental encounter with pornography poses a dilemma for her.

Milisuthando

Director: Milisuthando Bongela

Section: World Documentary

Available to watch in person and online

Set in past, present, and future South Africa — an invitation into a poetic, memory-driven exploration of love, intimacy, race, and belonging by the filmmaker, who grew up during apartheid but didn’t know it was happening until it was over.

Murder in Big Horn

Co-director: Razelle Benally

Section: Premieres

Available to watch in person and online

The deaths of a group of Native American women in rural Montana are the focus as Native families, journalists, and local law enforcement reveal a violent crisis set in motion almost 200 years ago.

My Animal

Director: Jacqueline Castel

Section: Midnight 

Available to watch in person only

Heather, an outcast teenage goalie in a small northern town, falls for newcomer Jonny, an alluring but tormented figure skater. As their relationship deepens, Heather’s growing desires clash with her darkest secret, forcing her to control the animal within.

Nam June Paik: Moon Is the Oldest TV

Director: Amanda Kim

Section: U.S. Documentary

Available to watch in person and online

The quixotic journey of Nam June Paik, one of the most famous Asian artists of the 20th century, who revolutionized the use of technology as an artistic canvas and prophesied both the fascist tendencies and intercultural understanding that would arise from the interconnected metaverse of today’s world.

Other People’s Children

Director: Rebecca Zlotowski

Section: Spotlight

Available to watch in person and online

Rachel is 40 years old with no children. She loves her life: her high school students, her friends, her guitar lessons. When she falls in love with Ali, she becomes attached to Leila, his 4-year-old daughter. She loves her like her own, but to love other people’s children is risky.

The Persian Version

Director: Maryam Keshavarz

Section: U.S. Drama 

Available to watch in person and online

When a large Iranian-American family gathers for the patriarch’s heart transplant, a family secret is uncovered that catapults the estranged mother and daughter into an exploration of the past. Toggling between the United States and Iran over decades, mother and daughter discover they are more alike than they know.

PLAN C

Director: Tracy Droz Tragos

Section: Premieres

Available to watch in person only

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.

Polite Society

Director: Nida Manzoor

Section: Midnight

Available to watch in person only

Aspiring martial artist Ria Khan believes she must save her older sister, Lena, from her impending marriage. With the help of her friends, Ria attempts to pull off the most ambitious of all wedding heists in the name of independence and sisterhood.

A Black man and a white woman, both wearing headphones, sit on a curved couch in a spaceship-looking room. Both are gazing at and touching a shiny white giant egg-like item on the coffee table in front of them. Behind them, a reddish-haired woman looks on.
Emilia Clarke, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Rosalie Craig appear in "The Pod Generation."

The Pod Generation

Director: Sophie Barthes

Section: Premieres

Available to watch in person only. 

In a not-so-distant future, amid a society madly in love with technology, tech giant Pegazus offers couples the opportunity to share their pregnancies via detachable artificial wombs or pods. And so begins Rachel and Alvy’s wild ride to parenthood in this brave new world.

Young woman with long, flowing hair sits on a stool under lights . Men are conversing and working in the background.
"Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields" follows the career of the star from her days as a child star.

Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields

Director: Lana Wilson

Section: Premieres

Available to watch in person only

A galvanizing look at actor, model, and icon Brooke Shields as she transforms from sexualized young girl to a woman discovering her power. Holding a mirror up to a society that objectifies women and girls, her story shows the perils and triumphs of gaining agency in a hostile world.

Run Rabbit Run

Director: Daina Reid

Section: Midnight

Available to watch in person and online

As a fertility doctor, Sarah has a firm understanding of the cycle of life. However, when she is forced to make sense of the increasingly strange behavior of her young daughter, Sarah must challenge her own beliefs and confront a ghost from her past.

Rye Lane

Director:  Raine Allen-Miller

Section: Premieres

Available to watch in person

Two twenty-somethings reeling from bad breakups deal with their nightmare exes and connect over the course of an eventful day in South London.

Scrapper

Director: Charlotte Regan

Section: World Drama

Available to watch in person and online

Georgie is a dreamy 12-year-old girl who lives happily alone in her London flat, filling it with magic. Out of nowhere, her estranged father turns up and forces her to confront reality.

Shayda

Director: Noora Niasari 

Section: World Drama

Available to watch in person and online

Shayda, a brave Iranian mother, finds refuge in an Australian women’s shelter with her 6-year-old daughter. Over Persian New Year, they take solace in Nowruz rituals and new beginnings, but when her estranged husband re-enters their lives, Shayda’s path to freedom is jeopardized.

Slow

Director: Marija Kavtaradze

Section: World Drama

Available to watch in person and online

Dancer Elena and sign language interpreter Dovydas meet and form a beautiful bond. As they dive into a new relationship, they must navigate how to build their own kind of intimacy.

Smoke Sauna Sisterhood

Director: Anna Hints

Section: World Documentary

Available to watch in person and online

In the darkness of a smoke sauna, women share their innermost secrets and intimate experiences, washing off the shame trapped in their bodies and regaining their strength through a sense of communion.

Sometimes I Think About Dying

Director: Rachel Lambert

Section: U.S. Drama

Available to watch 

Fran likes to think about dying. It brings sensation to her quiet life. When she makes the new guy at work laugh, it leads to more: a date, a slice of pie, a conversation, a spark. The only thing standing in their way is Fran herself.

The Starling Girl

Director: Laurel Parmet 

Section: U.S. Drama

Available to watch in person and online 

Seventeen-year-old Jem Starling struggles with her place within her Christian fundamentalist community, but everything changes when her magnetic youth pastor Owen returns to their church.

The Stroll

Directors: Kristen Lovell and Zackary Drucker

Section: U.S. Documentary

Available to watch in person and online

The history of New York’s Meatpacking District as told from the perspective of transgender sex workers who lived and worked there. Filmmaker Kristen Lovell, who walked “The Stroll” for a decade, reunites her community to recount the violence, policing, homelessness, and gentrification they overcame to build a movement for transgender rights.

Theater Camp

Co-director: Molly Gordon

Section: U.S. Drama

Available to watch in person and online

When the beloved founder of a run-down theater camp in upstate New York falls into a coma, the eccentric staff must band together with the founder’s crypto-bro son to keep the camp afloat. 

A Thousand and One

Director: A.V. Rockwell

Section: U.S. Drama

Available to watch in person and online

Convinced it’s one last, necessary crime on the path to redemption, unapologetic and free-spirited Inez kidnaps 6-year-old Terry from the foster care system. Holding on to their secret and each other, mother and son set out to reclaim their sense of home, identity, and stability in New York City.

The Tuba Thieves

Director: Alison O’Daniel

Section: NEXT

Available to watch in person and online

From 2011 to 2013, tubas were stolen from Los Angeles high schools. This is not a story about thieves or missing tubas. Instead, it asks what it means to listen.

Twice Colonized

Director: Lin Alluna

Section: World Documentary

Available to watch in person and online

Renowned Inuit lawyer Aaju Peter has long fought for the rights of her people. When her son suddenly dies, Aaju embarks on a journey to reclaim her language and culture after a lifetime of whitewashing and forced assimilation. But can she both change the world and mend her own wounds?

Victim/Suspect

Director: Nancy Schwartzman 

Section: U.S. Documentary

Available to watch in person and online

Investigative journalist Rae de Leon travels nationwide to uncover and examine a shocking pattern: Young women tell the police they’ve been sexually assaulted, but instead of finding justice, they’re charged with the crime of making a false report, arrested, and even imprisoned by the system they believed would protect them.

When It Melts

Director: Veerle Baetens

Section: World Drama

Available to watch in person and online

Many years after a sweltering summer that spun out of control, Eva returns to the village she grew up in, with an ice block in the back of her car. In the dead of winter, she confronts her past and faces up to her tormentors.

A dark-haired white woman sits at a bar, a drink in front of her, head rested on her left arm, with a despondent look on her face
Julia Louis-Dreyfus portrays a novelist in "You Hurt My Feelings."

You Hurt My Feelings

Director: Nicole Holofcener

Section: Premieres

Available to watch only in person

A novelist’s long-standing marriage is suddenly upended when she overhears her husband giving his honest reaction to her latest book.

Young. Wild. Free.

Director: Thembi L. Banks

Section: NEXT

Available to watch 

High school senior Brandon is drowning in responsibilities when his world is turned upside down after being robbed at gunpoint by the girl of his dreams.

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