The Female Directors of Sundance 2018

Pay attention, you’ll be hearing a lot about these ladies soon.
By  · Published on December 1st, 2017

Pay attention, you’ll be hearing a lot about these ladies soon.

The Sundance Film Festival can make or break a film’s critical buzz ahead of its national release. Films like Get OutThe Big Sick, and Call Me By Your Name made a huge first impression last year and are among some of the most talked about films of the year. Among many exciting features and documentaries announced in the lineup are those made by women. Their films include gritty thrillers, lighthearted dramas, and inspiring documentaries showcasing the bravery and resilience women have exhibited in the industry all year. We’ll look at some of the films directed and/or written by women that will be featured at Sundance next year.

The Kindergarten Teacher

Director and Screenwriter: Sara Colangelo

In this remake of an Israeli film, Maggie Gyllenhaal stars as a Staten Island teacher who takes a special interest in one student when she discovers he is a child prodigy. The film is currently in post-production. There has yet to be any trailer for Colangelo’s version, but here’s the trailer for the original Israeli version. It’s also available on Netflix.

Jane Fonda in Five Acts

Director: Susan Lacy

An ultimate look actress and activist Jane Fonda from her Hollywood origins to her controversial involvement with the Vietnam War protests. This figure in the spotlight may seem like she has nothing to hide, but this doc aims to show all sides of the complicated celebrity that continues to make headlines.

Dead Pigs

Director and screenwriter: Cathy Yan

Based off of true events, this Chinese feature tells the story of rapidly modernizing Shanghai when thousands of dead pigs float down a river. Connecting an unlikely group of people, the hoard of dead pigs ignites an interesting story.


Director and Screenwriter: Christina Choe

Nancy is convinced she was kidnapped as a child, but when she meets a couple whose child was abducted, her inklings turn into an irrational obsession. Starring Andrea Riseborough, Steve Buscemi, and Ann Dowd, this has the makings of a wonderful thriller. The film is currently in post-production.


Director: Amy Scott

A documentary looking at the life and colorful career of Hal Ashby, legendary filmmaker behind classics like Harold & Maude and Being There. Through his contemporaries like Scorsese and Speilberg, Scott looks at the cautionary tale of artistry and commerce. No trailer yet for the film, but a pretty cool poster was released.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Director: Desiree Akhavan

Based on Emily Danfirth’s coming of age novel, the film follows a girl to a gay conversion therapy center in the 1990s after getting caught having sex with the prom queen. Many are hoping for another queer masterpiece out of Sundance thanks to this film, which features Chloe Grace Moretz and Sasha Lane.

Dark Money

Director and Screenwriter: Kimberly Reed

Focusing on the efforts in Montana to change how campaigns are funded, this documentary sheds light on the trouble with anonymous money flooding into elections throughout our country. Kimberly’s previous work includes producing Prodigal Sons and The Life and Death of Marsha P. Johnson.


Director and Screenwriter: Aly Muritilba

This Brazilian love story follows two teenagers that quickly fall in love on their last school trip together. Their exchanges through their cell phones don’t compare to the experiences they have in real life, which come to an abrupt end.

Inventing Tomorrow

Director: Laura Nix

This documentary tells the stories of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) student’s as they prepare for one of the biggest science conferences in the world. Showing the environmental issues the children are studying and their adolescence, this sounds like a touching documentary that gives us hope for the future of science.

The Tale

Director and Screenwriter: Jennifer Fox

A look at woman’s first sexual relationship is inspired by the director’s own life. Laura Dern, Jason Ritter, and Ellen Burstyn are in the cast, taking on a tale that challenges our memory and the lies we tell ourselves. A realistic story told by the woman who lived it will bring an authentic voice to the film, something always valued in festivals.

The Devil We Know

Director: Stephanie Soechtig

In one of the most controversial environmental scandals in history, a group of West Virginians discovers a corporation has been dumping toxic waste into their local water supply. The film’s Indiegogo page features a video describing the film, which features notable documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock.

What They Had

Director: Elizabeth Chomko

After Bridget returns home to aid her mother dealing with Alzheimer’s, she comes to term with losing her mother. However, her father is unable to let go of their life together in this emotional family drama featuring Hilary Swank.


Director and Screenwriter: Heather Lenz

Visiting artist Yayoi Kusama in a mental hospital, Lenz explores how she became a world-famous artist despite the racism, sexism, and mental illness that led her to the hospital at 88, still creating art. Her work includes her Infinity Mirrors exhibitions that are featured in art museums across the country.

On Her Shoulders

Director: Alexandria Bombach

Another inspiring tale of resilience and bravery, this documentary showcases Nadia Murad, who survived genocide and sexual slavery at the hands of ISIS. Giving her account of her horrific memories, the film follows her journey into the media spotlight. Here’s a clip from an interview Nadia did with BBC Hardtalk.

Never Goin’ Back

Director and Screenwriter: Augustine Frizzell

Two high school dropouts try to go on vacation, but all hell breaks loose. Their house is robbed, they’re fired from their jobs, and rent is due. Dedicated to avoid eviction and enjoy a vacation by the beach, two best friends are willing to do anything to get what they want. Kyle Mooney and Maia Mitchell star in this directorial project from actress Augustine Frizzell.


Director: Claire McCarthy

The long-awaited new take on Shakespeare’s tragic character, McCarthy’s retelling of Hamlet from Opehlia’s female perspective is sure to be a highlight of the festival. With a stacked cast including Naomi Watts, Tom Felton, and Daisy Ridley you’ll be hearing a lot of about this the next few months.

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Emily Kubincanek is a Senior Contributor for Film School Rejects and resident classic Hollywood fan. When she's not writing about old films, she works as a librarian and film archivist. You can find her tweeting about Cary Grant and hockey here: @emilykub_