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Telling women’s stories will change the world, Sundance filmmakers say
Actress Rosario Dawson is interviewed in the documentary "Miss Representation," by director Jennifer Siebel Newsom, part of the Sundance Film Festival 2011. Courtesy Image
(Scott Sommerdorf  l  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
Geralyn Dreyfous (lower left) listens intently as Gloria Steinem (right) addresses a gathering of 100-or so women Jan. 23 connected to the movie industry.
A film still showing USS Kirk crew members in "Last Days in Vietnam."
Courtesy Hugh Doyle  |  Sundance Institute
Mitch (Paul Eenhoorn), a tourist from Australia, enjoys a trip to Iceland, in the comedy "Land Ho!" Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics
Tourists Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson, left) and Colin (Paul Eenhoorn) vacation in Iceland, in the comedy "Land Ho!" Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics

Tourists Colin (Paul Eenhoorn, left) and (Earl Lynn Nelson, center) meet a hip local (Emmsjé Gauti) in Reykjavik, Iceland, in a scene from the comedy "Land Ho!" Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics
A scene from "Last Days in Vietnam." Courtesy Sundance Institute
A scene from "Last Days in Vietnam." Courtesy Sundance Institute
A scene from "Last Days in Vietnam." Courtesy Sundance Institute
Medical photos of Deanna Walters, a victim of domestic violence whose case is featured in the documentary "Private Violence." Courtesy HBO Documentary Films
A scene from "Private Violence." Courtesy Sundance Institute
A scene from "Private Violence." Courtesy Sundance Institute
A scene from "Private Violence." Courtesy Sundance Institute

A scene from "Private Violence." Courtesy Sundance Institute
(Kim Raff  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
Director Jill Soloway accepts the Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic for her film "Afternoon Delight" during the Sundance Film Festival Awards Ceremony at Snyderville Basin Fieldhouse Recreation Center in Park City on January 26, 2013.
Director Martha Stephens, of the narrative film "Land Ho!" Courtesy Sundance Institute
Director Rory Kennedy, of the documentary "Last Days of Vietnam" Courtesy Sundance Institute
Cynthia Hill, director of the documentary "Private Violence" Courtesy Sundance Institute
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“Our idea is we want to help discover new voices,” says Dreyfous, the Academy Award-winning producer of “Born Into Brothels.” Gamechanger supports narrative films directed or co-directed by women, with budgets of $2 million or less.

And just months after Gamechanger was launched, its track record looks good. Its first film, “Land Ho,” a buddy comedy about a road trip in Iceland by two male retirees, co-directed by Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz, made headlines late this week when it was purchased by Sony Pictures.

For a younger generation, seeing beyond gender » Stephens, 29, said she’s not sure how her gender factored into the script, beyond the tone of the movie’s female supporting characters and how they reacted to the two male lead characters.

Many of her influences as a storyteller are drawn from her history of growing up in Appalachia and living in West Virginia. Stephens said she co-wrote and co-directed the film with her male filmmaking partner, but she was the one who pushed for the more colorful language in the story.

“And I think that comes from me being a kid growing up in the hills where people are a little more outspoken,” Stephens said. “That plays into who I am. My age plays into who I am. I’m sure something about me being a girl added to the film. I just don’t know what.”

ellenf@sltrib.com

facebook.com/ellen.weist

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Sundance Film Festival » There’s a scandal in the low numbers of women directing movies, which has led to an emerging network to change the field.

At a glance

Women behind the camera

A study commissioned by the Sundance Film Festival and Women in Film Los Angeles identified gender issues beyond the low number of female directors. When interviewed about directors, industry leaders were likely to use stereotypical male attributes or to make claims that women wouldn’t be interested or able to direct horror or action or other genre films. “When industry leaders think director, they think male,” the report states.

At the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, of the 1,163 content creators working behind the camera on 82 American films, nearly 30 percent were women. In narrative films, 24 percent of content creators were women, while 40 percent of documentary directors were women.

In another bright spot, female filmmakers who participate in Sundance filmmaking labs are as likely as their male colleagues to finish their films and have them accepted at the country’s top 10 film festivals.

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