51 percent of 2021 Sundance Film Festival selections from artists of color

The Sundance Institute announced all 140 entries for the mostly digital event that kicks off January 28.

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The Sundance Institute just announced the projects that will be showcased across the Feature Film, Short Film, Indie Series and New Frontier categories for the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

This year, the annual festival will go digital via a feature-rich, Sundance-built online platform and in-person on Satellite Screens across the nation. Cut down from 11 days to seven, the festival will run from January 28-February 3, 2021. Even though we won’t get to experience all of the usual festivities, attendees can gather in virtual waiting rooms, participate in live Q&As, and participate in other innovative additions. 

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“Togetherness has been an animating principle here at the Sundance Institute as we’ve worked to reimagine the Festival for 2021, because there is no Sundance without our community,” Sundance Institute Founder and President Robert Redford, said in a statement. “Under Tabitha’s leadership, we’ve forged a new collective vision: one that honors the spirit and tradition of these invigorating yearly gatherings in Utah, while making room for imaginative new possibilities in a new online format.”

“Of course, the pandemic year demanded adaptation,” said Keri Putnam, Sundance Institute’s Executive Director. “On a deeper level, we also recognize the urgency of supporting independent storytellers at a time of great upheaval in the film and media fields. We’re proud this edition of the Festival is fiercely independent, and will reach people everywhere, celebrating both the theatrical experience at our Satellite Screens and streaming on our platform.”

Sundance is known for breaking down barriers and this year, there is even more representation than ever. This year’s festival will include 72 Features, 50 Shorts, 4 Indie Series, 14 New Frontier Projects.

Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Credit: Mass Distraction Media/Sundance Institute)

“This Festival is a singular response to a singular year – both in design and curation – and we are excited about the new dimensions of possibility it will reveal. But at its core is something that speaks to our most enduring values,” said Tabitha Jackson, Director of the Sundance Film Festival. “For thousands of years humans have gathered to tell stories and make meaning. In this pandemic year, we gather to celebrate a constellation of artists with unique perspectives that express this current moment and who together are saying, ‘We exist. This is who we are. And this is what we see.’”

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With 140 features, shorts, and episodic projects, 50% of the selections were directed by women, while artists of color are behind 51% of the selections. Furthermore, 15% of the projects come from filmmakers who identify as LGBTQ.

“The work in this year’s program is groundbreaking, imaginative, and formally daring,” said Kim Yutani, the Festival’s Director of Programming. “With over half the program made by first-time directors, a sense of discovery remains true to us at Sundance. This year’s Festival presents irrefutable evidence that despite the challenges, the independent voice is as strong as ever.”

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson will make his directorial debut this year with Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised).” The documentary is about the Harlem Cultural Festival, which drew 300,000 people in the summer of 1969.

Click here for the full list of selections.

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