Exclusive: Meet The Sixth Class Of The Women At Sundance Fellowship

For as much progress as there's been for women in entertainment, we still have a long way to go. Case in point: According to the Sundance Institute, only 4.2% of the 100 top-grossing U.S. films were directed by women.

But Sundance wants to change that. The Women at Sundance fellowship supports women filmmakers by pairing them with industry figures who serve as their mentors throughout the program. The year-long fellowship program includes a stipend for the fellows to go to the Sundance Film Festival, complete with coaching sessions, seminars, and meetings.

Today, Sundance is revealing its sixth class of Women at Sundance fellows, and these are six women you'll definitely want to keep on your radar. Past participants in the fellowship program have gone on to do seriously big things — the list of alumni includes Selma director Ava DuVernay; Lemon director Janicza Bravo; and The Diary of a Teenage Girl director Marielle Heller.

The program helps women directors who are already well into their careers and on the fast track to widespread industry success, but who can use the mentorship and resources the fellowship provides. This year's fellows, for instance, have already created both short and feature-length films that have premiered at Sundance and South by Southwest.

Click through to learn more about the latest group of Women at Sundance fellows — you just might see their names again soon.

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Eliza Hittman

If you haven't heard of Hittman, the Brooklyn-based filmmaker should be on your radar. She earned praise from the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times for her debut film, It Felt Like Love, which premiered at the Sundance NEXT Fest in 2013. Her second movie, Beach Rats, premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. dramatic competition, and Hittman won the festival's directing award.

In addition to being a filmmaker, she's also an assistant professor at the Pratt Institute.
Lana Wilson

Wilson's film The Departure debuted at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, and it's already earned praise from The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Filmmaker magazine.

Before The Departure, Wilson's first movie, After Tiller, premiered at Sundance in 2013. The movie won an Emmy Award for Best Documentary. Wilson has also worked as a writer and producer on National Geographic Studios' I Am Rebel. She's also a visiting assistant professor at the Pratt Institute.
Lauren Wolkstein

Wolkstein has already created three short films — two of which, 2013's Social Butterfly and 2011's The Strange Ones, were shown at Sundance Film Festivals gone by. Her first short film, Cigarette Candy, won the Grand Jury Prize at South by Southwest (SXSW) in 2010. In addition, Wolkstein also created a collaborative feature film called collective:unconscious that premiered at SXSW in 2016.

Together with her The Strange Ones co-director Christopher Radcliff, she developed the short into a feature-length film, which debuted at SXSW this year. The movie then went on to its international premiere at the Champs-Élysées Film Festival, earning the Grand Jury Prize for Best American Independent Feature Film. It will be released next January through Vertical Entertainment and DirecTV.

Like Hittman, Wolkstein is also an assistant professor; she teachers film and media arts at Temple University. Her next project will focus on a female poker player — we're definitely intrigued.
Ramona Diaz

Diaz's documentary films have focused on Filipinos and Filipino Americans, Sundance explains. The subjects of her films have ranged from teachers to musicians to first ladies. So far, Diaz has made four feature-length films: Imelda, The Learning, Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey, and Motherland.

Diaz's movies have won multiple awards at various film festivals, including Silverdocs, IDFA, Sundance, Tribeca, and others. So if she's not on your radar yet, she definitely should be. Diaz has also served as a film envoy for the U.S. Department of State's American Film Showcase, which brings U.S.-made films to international audiences. She's also taught master classes in a number of countries, as well as in the United States.

Oh, and Diaz is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. No big deal.
Sabrina Schmidt Gordon

Like Diaz, Gordon is a documentary filmmaker. In addition to being a producer and director, Gordon is also a film editor — and her first editing project for the Greater Boston Arts series won an Emmy Award. She also earned an Emmy nomination for 2015's BaddDDDSonia Sanchez, which she co-produced, co-directed, and edited.

Gordon's newest film, Quest, premiered at Sundance in January. Since then, it's won Grand Jury prizes at other festivals, including the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, too. Gordon's first producing and editing feature debut, a documentary called Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, also premiered at Sundance back in 2006. Gordon co-produced and edited 2013's Documented, and she also edited 2014's TV documentary series America by the Numbers with Marie Hinojosa.

Like several of her peers, Gordon is also an instructor — she's a faculty member at the Columbia University School of Journalism and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She's also involved in social justice media projects and serves as a co-chair of the Black Documentary Collective.
Angela C. Lee

Sundance describes Lee as a producer who's "dedicated to creating bold and captivating stories that promote empathy and exploration." Her first movie, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, premiered at Sundance in 2015; it was nominated for several Spirit Awards.

Lee has several projects in the work, including a feature about a female bodybuilder and a comedy about online gaming. She's also working on a fictional short called The Row, which is in its post-production stages. Lee was a Sundance Institute Creative Producing Lab Fellow in 2015.

She also shows that making a drastic career change is totally doable — before becoming a producer, Lee worked as an associate at Goldman Sachs.
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