During the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in Park City Utah, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) hosted a special “Women Breaking Barriers: How Far Have We Come?” panel at the SundanceTV Headquarters, on January 25, moderated by HFPA member Elisabeth Sereda. Panelists included accomplished women from various fields in the film industry including Kerry Washington (Golden Globe-nominated actress), Julie Taymor (Oscar-nominated director), Frankie Shaw (Golden Globe-nominated actress, producer, writer, and director) and Lisa Jackson (filmmaker and #1 New York Times Bestselling Author). Sundance Institute’s Executive Director Keri Putnam and HFPA member Elisabeth Sereda opened the panel with a brief Q&A followed by an HFPA announcement that the organization will continue to show support to the Sundance Institute’s Women’s programs by donating $50,000.
Sereda kicked off the panel by asking panelists about a specific moment in their careers when they felt they were truly breaking barriers within the industry.
“It’s hard for me to not say ‘Scandal’ because there was so much attention when ‘Scandal’ first premiered that there hadn’t been a woman of color as a lead in a network drama in almost forty years,” Washington said. “I think it will be exciting when the only firsts we are talking about are the innovations in our creative endeavors rather than the identity and the politics of the work we’re making.”
When it came to specific obstacles women have to work to overcome, Taymor pointed to the current political climate. “Our democracy is failing us.” Taymor said. ”That’s what’s really holding back the leadership of women right now.” Panelists also discussed their thoughts on the best ways to continue pushing boundaries and creating positive change. “Women supporting women is the only way. Solidarity is the only way. It’s the only thing that’s ever instigated change.” said Shaw.
Jackson highlighted the importance of representation behind the camera. “I think we’ve all experienced when you watch a movie that’s about your community and you know it’s not an inside job,” she said. “There should be nothing about us without us.”
Images and video courtesy of SundanceTV. The festival runs January 23 – February 2. You can follow Carolyn’s coverage of Sundance on social media at @Carriecnh12 on Twitter and Instagram, with the hashtag #SHWHSundance20, and So Here’s What Happened! at @SHWH_Pod on Twitter.
Carolyn is a Freelance Film Critic, Journalist, and Podcaster – and avid live tweeter. Member of the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), her published work can be found on But Why Tho, The Beat, Observer, and many other sites. As a critic, she believes her personal experiences and outlook on life, give readers and listeners a different perspective they can appreciate.