More than Half of 2020’s Sundance Dramatic Competition Films Directed by People of Color

But festival shows slight dip in female directors in main competition lineup

Sundance 2020 Diversity
All photos courtesy of Sundance Institute

More than half of the movies competing for the U.S. Dramatic prize at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival come from directors who identify as people of color.

Sundance reports that 53%, or nine of 17 directors across 16 films listed in competition as part of the 2020 lineup, are non-white. 118 feature films were announced as part of the lineup on Wednesday, and 34%, or 40 of the films, were directed by one or more filmmakers of color. And specifically across the 65 directors in all four competition categories, 56 films in all, 38% of the directors are people of color.

That’s right on par with the initial wave of films announced for 2019’s slate, which featured 36% as directed by people of color. However, that number changed slightly as more films were subsequently announced to the full lineup.

Directors of color in the U.S. Dramatic competition include: Esteban Arango for  “Blast Beat,” Angel Manuel Soto for”Charm City Kings” and Ekwa Msangi for “Farewell Amor.”

Just under half of the directors in the U.S. Dramatic competition were women, which is slightly below last year when nine of the 16 films had a woman directing. However, the number of women directors represented at the festival overall saw an improvement from last year. Women directed 44% of the films announced Wednesday, or 52 films of the 118 in all.

That number could change as more films are added, but it would beat out last year, in which women directed only 47 of the features, or 39%, of the films in the festival. In 2018, 37% of all the films were directed by women, and in 2017, the total was only 34%.

Some of the films directed by women in the competition slate include Radha Blank’s “The 40-Year-Old Version,” Ekwa Msangi’s “Farewell Amor,” Eliza Hittman’s “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” Eleanor Wilson alongside Alex Fischer for the film “Save Yourself!,” Josephine Decker’s “Shirley,” Tara Miele’s “Wander Darkly,” and Janicza Bravo’s “Zola.”

Other female directors represented on the lineup include new films by Miranda July, Dee Rees, Sara Colangelo, Amy Ziering and Julie Taymor.

Among LGBTQ+ representation, 5% of the 65 directors in competition are LGBTQ+, but 15% of all the filmmakers in the festival identify as such.

The 2020 Sundance Film Festival takes place in Park City, Utah from Jan. 23 to Feb. 2.