Sundance Film Festival announces initiatives addressing gender ratio, media diversity | ParkRecord.com

Sundance Film Festival announces initiatives addressing gender ratio, media diversity

John Cooper, director of the Sundance Film Festival, right, responds to a question from the media, looking to Keri Putnam, middle, and Robert Redford, left, as they collaborate on a response, during the Day One Press Conference at the Egyptian Theatre on Thursday, January 18, 2018. The conference helped to kick off the festival, addressing topics including the #MeToo and Time's Up movements as well as the increasing diversity in the direction of this year's festival's films. (Tanzi Propst/Park Record)

The Sundance Institute announced Monday that the 2019 edition of the Sundance Film Festival had the highest number of submissions it's ever seen, with a showcase of art culled from a field of more than 14,200 hopefuls. A number of changes aimed at increasing diversity and social equity across the board at the festival are on the way as well, from programming to gathering data and increasing press access.

A bevy of additions to the festival's programming staff brings the team up to a 50/50 gender split, according to a press release. Dilcia Barrera, Stephanie Owens, Sudeep Sharma, Ana Souza and Tabitha Jackson round out the group coordinating the work shown at the festival.

Kim Yutani, festival director of programming, said in the release that the changes are intended to facilitate representation of a "wide range of filmmakers and on-screen experiences."

Also announced was the initiation of a study of festival submissions in partnership with the University of Southern California's Annenburg Inclusion Initiative, which will gather data on the demographics of submissions to the Sundance Film Festival and the Sundance Institute's other showcases.

As for the media landscape outside of the institute itself, the organizers will mandate that a minimum of 20 percent of "top-tier" press passes be allocated to journalists from underrepresented communities in an effort to address the lack of diversity in news media and "enrich the critical discourse around the films showcased at the Festival," according to the release.

Organizers plan to address the hurdles facing members of the press who may not have the resources or cultural cachet to make the most of their coverage of the festival with monetary support as well. A new "Press Inclusion Initiative" is set to award grants to 50 freelance journalists to ease the financial burden of travel and lodging in Park City.

Recommended Stories For You

The announcements come after the festival's organizers attempted to make this year's event, a centerpiece of the Hollywood and international film festival circuit founded by Robert Redford, more equitable in the wake of the revelations of Harvey Weinstein's sexual misconduct and the resulting #MeToo movement.

The 2019 Sundance Film Festival is set to run from Jan. 24 through Feb. 3 in Park City and the surrounding area.