As the 10-day Sundance Film Festival draws to a close on Sunday night (2 February) with the feature film awards ceremony, four women to watch are:

Taylor Swift: Miss Americana (Director: Lana Wilson) After a .spectacular opening night at the Sundance Film Festival 2020, the documentary based on the pop star’s experience of celebrity, in the unforgiving age of social media, released on Netflix and in select theatres on Friday.

Emmy-nominated award-winning filmmaker Natalie Johns dazzled audiences this week with Max Richter’s Sleep, which made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2020.

Natalie Johns was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in South Africa, where her first global feature documentary, I Am Thalente, won an Audience Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

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Award-winning film director Natalie Johns grew up in South Africa. Her documentary, “Max Richter’s Sleep” premiered this week at Sundance 2020. Photo courtesy Eagle Rock Entertainment.

 

Having received an Emmy award nomination in 2015 for Outstanding Directing, Johns has collaborated with the world’s leading musical talent, including Childish Gambino, John Legend, and Annie Lennox.

“This is my first Sundance experience and, having the world premiere of the film presented to the world’s top film industry insiders and cinephiles, is a dream come true for me,” explained Johns.

“In my early teenage years and the final years of apartheid, our family went through a divorce, financial struggle, and I suffered with depression.”

“And so my early focus was on survival, gaining independence, and escaping a situation that seemed insurmountable,” continued Johns.

“Those early experiences still haunt me. And my compulsion for storytelling continues to be driven by the desire to uncover what unites us, rather than divides us. Against a backdrop of a world still fraught with inequality and conflict, we continue to love, create, fail, get up, and try again.”

 

Director Janicza Bravo of ‘Zola’ attends the IMDb Studio at Acura Festival Village on location at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Photo: Rich Polk/Getty Images North America.

 

Lots of buzz at Sundance 2020 centred around Zola, directed by Janicza Bravo.

The film has demonstrated that a Twitter thread gone viral, can be made into an excellent movie which combines dark comedy, a road trip, and a thrilling story.

“The movie is a love letter to the internet and cellphones and screens,” said Bravo at the festival’s world premiere of her film. “And the space that I feel the most comfortable in, is stressful comedy.”

 

From left: Talia Ryder, Sidney Flanigan and director Eliza Hittman attend the “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” premiere during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Photo: Getty Images North America.

 

Many of Sundance’s buzzworthy movies were directed by women, a welcome step in the right direction for an industry battling to diversify.

Eliza Hittman, who won a Best Director accolade in the previous year at Sundance, spoke with All4Women at the world premiere of her newest film, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, which centres around a teenage girl who goes on a long and difficult journey to find an abortion clinic in New York City.

“My goal is to immerse an audience in a journey, an intimate experience that many women go through, and I think that exposing them to this journey will help them realise just how many women all over the world are forced to take similar trips, ” said Hittman.

“I hope the film moves people, the filmmaking, the imagery, the emotion – there is something that the film says about a real lack of navigational tools and barriers that women have had to face in the world.”