Even though it’s been a rough year for black entertainers in Hollywood, the Sundance Film Festival proved to be a big boon for black filmmakers. Julie Walker reports at NPR that this year’s festival had no fewer than a combined 30 black filmmakers and films, and included more features, documentaries and shorts than at any other time in Sundance’s 33 year history. That number includes “Being Elmo” and “Pariah”, two films that have both garnered substantial buzz at the festival.
Sundance Senior Programmer Shari Frilot, who is the only African American on the seven-member programming panel, attributes the record number to several factors, including “accessibility to filmmaking,” saying, “it used to be elitist — not anymore.” Yes, the cost of making movies has gone down as the technology has gotten better, but that is only part of the reason more blacks are making films and more of those films are being shown at Sundance.
Frilot, who has been with the festival for 11 years, credits an older generation of black filmmakers with paving the way for the new guard. “The groundwork was laid before them, and they are coming from programs that support them,” Frilot says.
The festival wrapped up on Tuesday. Let’s hope the rest of the entertainment industry took notes.