GLAAD continued its strong presence at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020, producing and participating in a full week of panels, activations, and events, while lending support to a strong number of meaningful LGBTQ-inclusive films and filmmakers.
On Saturday, January 25th, GLAAD partnered with Hollywood trade publication Deadline for a live taping of two episodes of their New Hollywood Podcast, hosted by Dino-Ray Ramos and Amanda N’Duka. Billed as an event for the casts of two documentaries – Disclosure: Trans Live on Screen and Welcome to Chechnya – to join in discussions about their respective messages, one cast made it, while another was slightly postponed. Disclosure director Sam Feder arrived with three of his documentary’s subjects – Jen Richards, Marquise Vilson, and Tre’vell Anderson – for an engaging and impactful conversation about the history of transgender representation in film and television, as well as the long road involved with getting the film to its premiere at Sundance.
However, the weather gods did not cooperate for Welcome to Chechnya and director David France and the documentary’s subjects didn’t make it to the live podcast taping in time. Fortunately, Deadline was nonetheless able to interview the cast in their studio the next day. And the cast was additionally able to participate in an impromptu pop-up panel and conversation at Outfest House on Sunday.
Check out a list of the LGBTQ films that premiered at Sundance 2020.
The Saturday night podcast taping was followed by an announcement of The 2020 GLAAD List, GLAAD’s partnership with The Black List. The scripts on The GLAAD List represent the type of LGBTQ-inclusive stories that GLAAD would like to see studios producing. With the proper attention, and with the collaboration of the right directors and actors, these scripts show tremendous promise and should one day become films that will both entertain audiences and change hearts and minds around the world. Three of the authors whose scripts were selected for this year’s GLAAD List were present – Trevor Anderson (Before I Change My Mind), Sam McConnell (In The City of Shy Hunters), and Becca Roth (Margo & Perry) – and each got up to share a few words. Check out all of the scripts on the 2020 GLAAD List, HERE.
On Saturday night, GLAAD attended Frameline’s annual LGBTQ filmmakers dinner, co-sponsored by Film at Lincoln Center, Strand Releasing, and Symbolic Exchange. Bold-faced names in attendance included original GLAAD board member Leslie Kleinberg (now executive director of Film at Lincoln Center), Sundance Programming director Kim Yutani, outgoing Sundance President John Cooper, and actor Alec Baldwin.
On Sunday, GLAAD lent support to Outfest, who for the first year supplemented their long-running Queer Brunch with a full-day of programming appropriately called Outfest House. Following the brunch and the aforementioned Welcome to Chechnya panel, Outfest produced a full day of programming and panels that GLAAD helped promote and support. Later that evening, GLAAD, alongside Outfest and Inside Out (Toronto’s LGBTQ Film Festival), sponsored an event in honor of Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen, which had its premiere the next day. Most of the cast and crew were in town and GLAAD’s Director of Transgender Media, Nick Adams, gave a short speech talking about his work with the documentary from its inception.
GLAAD staff attended both the Sunday premiere of Welcome to Chechnya and the Monday premiere of Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen; two of the most impactful documentaries at Sundance this year, which highlighted important issues for the LGBTQ community. Welcome to Chechnya – which will premiere on HBO this summer – brought in several survivors and heroes working in Russia to help LGBTQ Chechnyan refugees free the persecution happening there. And with so many of the folks from Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen present in Park City – although it’s impossible to tell for sure – it must have set some sort of record for transgender representation at Sundance!
Also on Sunday, GLAAD’s Director of Entertainment Media, Jeremy Blacklow, participated in a panel at the first Latinx House at Sundance on LGBTQ representation in Hollywood. Titled “LGBTQ Representation: Advocating for Greater Visibility in Hollywood,” the panel also featured actors Frankie Rodriguez (High School Musical: The Musical: The Series), Harvey Guillen (What We Do In The Shadows), director Patricia Vidal Delgado (La Leyenda Negra, which played at Sundance), and producer Taryn Sims Arriola. The panel was moderated by TheWrap editor-in-chief Sharon Waxman.
“I think we are living in a new era,” said Blacklow. “In GLAAD’s latest Where We Are on TV report, we are at 10.2% of series regulars on broadcast television being LGBTQ now, which surpassed our goal at GLAAD for the 2019-20 season [10%]. Now we need to do more to start empowering the most marginalized voices in our community; that’s the next step.”
“Sony is planning on remaking The Craft with a transgender Latinx woman as one of the four leads. And they came to us [GLAAD] to help them find the actress,” Blacklow continued. “We need to have more trans people in trans roles in Hollywood, as well as transgender people telling transgender stories.”
“There wasn’t much I could look up to that was like me that was on television,” explained Rodriguez. “I feel like I’m fortunate to have entered the industry in a very inclusive time not just as a Latino, but also as a gay man. It’s very important to be able to see people like you on TV or film. I’m really happy to be part of this new movement. It’s exciting.”
On Tuesday, GLAAD hosted its official 2020 Sundance panel. Titled “Queer, Black, and Unapologetic: The Shifting Lens of Storytelling in Hollywood,” the sold-out event at Filmmaker Lodge featured a who’s who of queer Black Hollywood talent. Moderated by Woke AF Nation’s Danielle Moodie-Mills, GLAAD was also joined by Rashad Robinson (Executive Director, Color Of Change), Justin Simien (Bad Hair, Dear White People), Jonica T. Gibbs (BET’s Twenties), Alexandra Grey (Empire, Chicago Med), and Elegance Bratton (Pier Kids, Buck) for an in-depth discussion around the challenges and pathways for Black creators in the entertainment industry.
Watch the panel below:
GLAAD will be continuing to represent LGBTQ films and filmmakers throughout the year at festivals including SXSW, Tribeca, Inside Out, Frameline, Outfest, TIFF, and NewFest. Keep an eye out here for more updates.
Head here for more info on the Sundance Institute and the Sundance Film Festival.