Join five leading UK and US independent filmmakers for a vibrant and thoughtful discussion of their careers, creative processes, and films from the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Wendy Mitchell moderates, exploring the work of Janicza Bravo (Zola), Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), Romola Garai (Amulet), Justin Simien (Bad Hair), and Julie Taymor (The Glorias).
Janicza Bravo is based in Los Angeles—though these days she’d say she’s based in couch and food. She writes and directs—though at the moment she spends most of her days looking longingly into her phone. Her work in film has screened at festivals. Her work in television has played on cable and streaming. She hopes to one day go back to the theatre. And also make more visits to the beach.
Multi-award-nominated actor Romola Garai’s extensive film, TV, and stage credits include work with some of the world’s finest writers and directors. Her credits include Sarah Gavron’s Suffragette, Joe Wright’s Atonement, François Ozon’s Angel, Lone Scherfig’s One Day, and Stephen Poliakoff’s Glorious 39. Garai is also known for her writing/directing work, including Scrubber. Amulet is her feature film debut.
Emerald Fennell is a screenwriter, director, actor, and novelist. In 2019, she was nominated for two Emmy Awards—Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series—for her work as head writer and executive producer on season two of Killing Eve. Her script for Promising Young Woman was on the 2018 Black List. Her most recent novel, Monsters, was nominated for the Carnegie Medal.
Justin Simien is a TV and film writer, director, and producer based in Los Angeles. His feature directorial and screenwriting debut, Dear White People, won the Sundance Film Festival's Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent and was picked up by Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions. Simien won the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay, received the Gotham Awards' Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award along with a nomination for the Audience Award, and was named in Variety’s “10 Directors to Watch” in 2013. His series adaptation of Dear White People is now heading into its fourth and final season, and his second feature, the New Jack Swing 1980s-set psychological thriller Bad Hair (Sundance Film Festival), will be released by Hulu this year.
Julie Taymor’s The Glorias, about the life of Gloria Steinem, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and will be released this year. Her other film credits include Fool's Fire, Oedipus Rex, Titus, Frida, and a cinematic version of her critically acclaimed stage production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Other theatre credits include her Tony-nominated Broadway adaptation of The Lion King; the Public Theater's Grounded; and Broadway’s M Butterfly. Operas include Oedipus Rex, Salome, and Die Zauberflote (in repertory at the Met). Taymor is a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, an inductee into the Theater Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theater, a recipient of the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre, and a Disney Legends Award honoree.
Wendy Mitchell is a journalist, moderator, and film festival consultant. She is a contributing editor at Screen International and is the editor of the European Film Academy’s Close-up magazine. She also consults for the San Sebastian International Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, and Zurich Film Festival and Zurich Summit.