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Political Storylines That Dominated at Sundance This Year

This year the Sundance Film Festival decided to get political. Filmmakers did not shy away from telling controversial stories and showing their support for people from all walks of life. Here is a breakdown of some of the most political stories at Sundance.


The subject of abortion was prominent in mutiple movies this year. The coverage on the topic was well rounded and discussed abortion as a political issue, a social issue, and a personal issue. 

In the movie, The Glorias, abortion is shown as a large element of the womens movement and the second wave of feminism. We see a young Gloria Stienem struggle with having to find a way to receive an illegal abortion. She is a privileged, white woman, who is able to find a way to go through with the procedure. But she does not ignore her privilege. Gloria realizes how wide-spread the issue is and advocates for other women dealing with the same thing.

The short, Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa, shines a light on abortion and the day to day impact it has on women and their societies. It grapples with the issue of which women have access to abortions and who should receive priority for the financial assistance to receive one. 

The film Never Rarely Sometimes Always takes us into the life of a young woman named Autumn who has to deal with the repercussions of an unintended pregnancy. Her home state of Pennsylvania has no plausible options so she must venture to New York City to take on this life changing journey. Through her experience, she is able to reclaim her body and kickstart her life.  

Gun Violence

School shootings are an overwhelming problem in our country. The film, Us Kids, follows students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who experienced a tragic mass shooting in 2018. They rallied together to share their story and have become activists working to end this problem in our society once and for all.

Domestic Violence

The movie Herself gives audiences a look into the mind of a woman in an abusive relationship. It shows the world the thought process of staying with her partner vs. not staying with her partner for the sake of her family. Realizing that you are in an unhealthy relationship is a difficult thing to come to terms with, but this is a story of self growth, perseverance, and learning how to move on.

Women’s Rights

Telling women’s stories was a priority at Sundance this year. Movies where powerful women talked about the issues that they face, such as Hillary and Miss Americana were impactful. The overarching theme of these films was that women have been pushed aside for too long. It is finally time for us to speak up and take a stand. We, as women, need to remember to always support each other so that we can work as a truly united force.

#MeToo Movement

The Assistant is a film that artfully tackles the #MeToo movement. It follows the character of Jane and her experience working as an assistant to a high powered entertainment executive. Her boss’ character directly parallels Harvey Weinstein, but we never see his face. It proves the point that women often put up with too much and are just now starting to stand up for themselves. 

It is important to stay politically engaged, and Sundance is giving their audiences a chance to do just that. These movies are sure to spark some great conversations and educate many people. 

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Kim Davison is a recent graduate from the University of Utah that double majored in Theatre and Communications. She was the President of Her Campus Utah and a Chapter Advisor, a Campus Expansion Assistant and a Her Campus Ambassador Advisor for Her Campus Nationals. Kim loves theatre, event planning, dachshunds and strives to live her life every day to make Leslie Knope proud. She is currently searching to jobs in the media industry and is excited to see where life takes her!
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