12 Black Female Filmmakers Who Struck Gold at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival

Reframing Hollywood Through the Black Female Gaze: A Black History Month Series

Robin A Henderson
Published in
8 min readFeb 24


Two people walking in a hallway.
Rye Lane, Searchlight Pictures

Exceptional moviemakers premiered their passion projects this year at America’s mecca of independent cinema, The Sundance film festival (Sundance).

Sundance offers the biggest stage and the brightest lights for art house films and their respective maestros behind the camera.

Glitzy LA may drive box office success with its big budgets and popularity contests. Still, Park City, Utah, a picturesque, snow-capped mountain town, is where complex storytelling reigns supreme on the big screen.

What started as a small outlet for independent voices has broadened into a showcase for underrepresented talent.

The Robert Redford-founded institution remains committed to prioritizing innovative artists over interchangeable intellectual property, especially regarding women artists.

The institute appointed veteran filmmaker and executive CEO Joana Vicente in September 2021. She’s the first Latina woman to helm the festival, and her vision to feature more female voices shows.

In 2023, female directors comprised more than half of the entries in the U.S. and World Cinema Competition categories.

These entries include award winners A. V. Rockwell’s, A Thousand and One, and Michèle Stephenson’s, Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project, who took home the festival’s top honors.

Unlike most major award organizations, Sundance continuously expands its line-up of diverse creatives. And this year marks its highest number of women and BIPOC filmmakers yet.

“Of the 101 feature films announced so far, 54 (53%) were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as women; 5 (5%) were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as nonbinary individuals; 46 (45%) were directed by one or more filmmakers…



Robin A Henderson
Writer for

I write about inclusive storytelling in Hollywood and diverse representation in wellness.

Recommended from Medium