Sundance 2014 Report (1): Women Talk Docs

Forgive me in advance. Over the next few days, I hope to churn out a whole bunch of wonderful detail from my Sundance 2014 excursion. This collection of recaps will include reviews, photos and a summary personal narrative of my experiences over my 4 days in Park City, Utah.

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Monday, January 20. Touchdown, Salt Lake City, 10:30AM. I have finally arrived! A dream of mine has come true. Almost as soon as I touched the ground, I dropped my bags off at the hotel and headed straight for downtown/Main Street.

I usually use my first day in any new city, big or small, as my “Get Lost” day. This included working my way through the FREE public transportation system to find the best (and worst) ways to get around in timely and efficient manner. I did all of this to end up at the Sundance Channel HQ just in time to be in the audience of SundanceNOW Doc Club’s “Spotlight on Women Directors” Panel featuring filmmakers Rory Kennedy, Lucy Walker, Shola Lynch and Judith Helfand. Although the discussion was focused on documentary films, the panel did start the dialogue by discussing the current status of women filmmakers overall in the industry (documentary, narrative, short and feature-length). After running off of the frankly abysmal stats, the topics in the packed house shifted to:

  • overcoming misconceptions about one’s ability as a filmmaker,
  • navigating the waters of Hollywood politics,
  • inserting and asserting yourself in a culture of confidence,
  • building a network of allies,
  • finding your own unique voice in telling story,
  • using social media to get your “brand” out there, and
  • using obstacles to your advantage and turning them into assets.

As someone who is on the verge of creating material for mass consumption, I left this event inspired to forge ahead in spite of what can be best described as my own ‘self-imposed’ reservations.

But don’t my word for it; see (and hear) for yourself ….

Tune in tomorrow to this space for my thoughts about the Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself.

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