In the U.S., women make up more than half of the total population, yet just 12 percent of the 100 top-grossing American films are made by females. This needs to change. Our mission has always been to elevate the stories of all creators. And we are committed to continue to lift-up female filmmaker voices and bring greater opportunities to all creators, especially the underrepresented.
We’re proud of our long-standing partnership with Sundance Institute and are excited to announce the 2022 Women at Sundance | Adobe Fellowship participants. As the first-ever female-focused fellowship for filmmakers, the year-round program is designed to foster community, further craft and offer support to female artists creating bold new work in film and media. Created in 2020, this fellowship was formed by the Sundance Institute and Adobe around a shared commitment to help nurture, develop and champion underrepresented voices. The program offers a full year of comprehensive support with custom-tailored mentorship from the Institute and Adobe executives, skill-building workshops, ongoing coaching, a cash grant and a one-year subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud.
The fellowship continues the momentum we’re building in both our commitment to bringing a diverse set of perspectives to the screen as well as our work overall in elevating, empowering and forging ways for female filmmakers to express themselves and succeed as storytellers.
Want to learn more about our fellows? Read more.
Get to know this year’s Fellows
- Zandashé Brown
- Miciana Alise
- Joie Estrella Horwitz
- Jin Yoo-Kim
- Meghan Ross
- Aisha Bhoori
- Elizabeth Ai
- Deidre Backs
Zandashé Brown is a Louisiana born-and-based storyteller whose work funnels spirituality, catharsis, and a rural Black experience through the lens of southern gothic horror. Her films have been supported by Tribeca, Chanel, Kickstarter, and the New Orleans Film Society, where she programs narrative films for the New Orleans Film Festival.
“Life is inspiring. What are any of us really doing? I use storytelling as a means of processing my own experiences and feelings about what it means to be in the world and experience pain, pleasure, love, curiosity, and any other range of emotion.”
Current Project: The Matriarch — A spiritual journey through legacy, shame, and the cult of kinship. It imagines a holy trinity born from three generations of Afro-Louisiana women, bound together by their blood and the endless search for a mother’s embrace.
Where I get inspiration: Southern Louisiana has probably been my most consistent inspiration. There’s a lot to draw from culturally, historically, architecturally, and naturally of course — but there’s a spirit to this place that I could probably spend the rest of my life trying to articulate on screen.
“This fellowship is coming at a transitional time in my life and career. It’s granting me an opportunity to fully focus on my creative process and self-development with the support and guidance of other artists as I gear up to make my feature film debut, and most personal work yet,” she says.
Miciana Alise has been a production intern, first assistant director and is a self-published author. Alise wrote her first feature length script in 2018, which led to her selection as a Sundance Institute Indigenous Film Fellow the following year. She is the creator of “The Mission by Miciana”, a YouTube channel which focuses on educating Native youth on current events and Indigenous history of the United States through innovative teaching methods. Her feature film script, Fancy Dance, which she co-wrote with Erica Tremblay, was included on the inaugural (2020) Indigenous List hosted by The Black List and she is a current Sundance Institute Screenwriting Fellow (2020-2021). She is currently enrolled in the Arizona State University Film and Media Studies Program.
“Being a part of the Women at Sundance | Adobe Fellowship will help me find the path forward from the written page to a finished film. It’s almost time for this script to take that leap into the real world and this fellowship is a bridge to that path.”
Current project: Nancy’s Girls — A young woman discovers that the only way to move forward in her life is to go back — to the home, culture, and family she’s been running from for years.
Where I get inspiration: From my family, my culture and the conflicts within my own identity. As a Black and Indigenous woman in America there’s no shortage of stories to be inspired by within the intersections of the community spaces I inhabit on a daily basis. I come from a matrilineal culture (Tlingit) and I was raised by strong women so I’ve always been drawn to stories that share the humanity behind the “strength” they, and others like them, exhibit.
Joie Estrella Horwitz
Joie Estrella Horwitz is a filmmaker, producer and curator based in Tucson and Los Angeles. Filmmaker Magazine named her one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2020. Her work has screened at the Brooklyn Film Festival, UnionDocs, Le Cinéma Club, REDCAT, Visions du Reel, ICDOCS, Flaherty Seminar and Tacoma Film Festival where she received Honorable Mention for Best Short Documentary for her film Alejandro & Miguel. She was awarded a fellowship to the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar in 2019. Her current project, Tender Crossings, is an experimental feature documentary and was awarded the Allan Sekula Social Documentary Fund, Alison Doerner Fund for Women Pioneers in Filmmaking and the Tim Disney Prize for Excellence in the Storytelling Arts. She is a co-founder of Bahía Colectiva, a community of filmmakers who collaborate in cinematic practice and curation and is producing the feature film Todo lo Sólido, which was awarded the Sundance Documentary Fund.
“Being in a cohort of like-minded people where we can collaborate with one another on our creative processes is something that I find extremely valuable as an artist.”
Joie Estrella Horwitz
Current project: Signs Preceding the End of the World (co-directing/writing), Todo Lo Solido (producing), The Ferryman (co-directing/writing), Steel Traces (director), Manana, Manana Insha-Allah (co-directing/writing)
Where I get inspiration: My mother has and will always be my greatest inspiration. I am gaining the courage, slowly, to write a script about her. My community, the borderlands, is a place defined by duality, existing in many ways as an in-between place that is constantly negotiating different cultures, languages, identities, landscapes, movements, sounds, images and, of course, life and death. For me, the exploration of this in-betweenness is where I find my greatest motivation as a maker.
Jin Yoo Kim is a Korean-Bolivian-American independent film producer. She co-produced A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem, and K-town. She is currently developing her first food docuseries, co-writing a feature comedy, and developing a feature documentary about SPAM. She is a 2020-21 Sundance Creative Producers Fellow, a 2020 Film Independent x CNN Original Series Docuseries Intensive Fellow, and a 2020 Film Independent Doc Lab fellow. She pitched at Big Sky Pitch at Big Sky Film Festival 2020, and was a 2017 Firelight Media Impact Producing Fellow. She received her MFA in Film from USC and a BA in Psychology and Cinema & Media Studies from Wellesley College. When she’s not working, Jin is eating her way through LA, growing an edible garden to share with her husband and son.
Current project: Manzanar Diverted — At the foot of the majestic snow-capped Sierras, Manzanar, the WWII concentration camp, becomes the confluence for memories of Payahuunadü, the now-parched “land of flowing water.” Intergenerational women from Native American, Japanese American and rancher communities form an unexpected alliance to defend their land and water from Los Angeles.
Meghan Ross is a writer/director, comedian, and activist based in Austin. Her short films have made The New Yorker’s Best Shouts of 2020 list and she was recently nominated for The Webby Awards for her short, If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I’ll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth, which features narration by Jon Hamm. Meghan’s writing has appeared in IFC, Reductress, Slackjaw, VICE’s Broadly, TV Without Pity, The Toast, and some other defunct but beloved sites. She co-created and hosted the late night show That Time of the Month for 5 years and is currently the Head of Creator Success at Seed&Spark. Most importantly, Meghan is an aspiring stage mom to her rescue pit-lab, Dreidel.
“This fellowship also signaled to me that the last decade of busting my butt across every comedy medium until I figured out my strengths and my voice — all while sitting atop a gorgeous mountain of rejections — had finally paid off.”
Current project: Here to Make Friends is a short film about an anxious, aging millennial Arab-American Austin transplant goes on a mission to find the platonic love of her life after realizing she’s never had one lasting female friend, but will have to figure out how to befriend herself first.
Where I get inspiration: It’s a mixed recipe of the past (post-9/11 puberty as a hairy Arab middle child going to Catholic school in the NJ suburbs), the present (the current hellscape we’re in, but make it funny!), and my hope for the future (patriarchy burned to the ground, dogs don’t go to Heaven because they never die, Medicare for All, etc.). Real life is funnier and more bizarre than anything I could ever make up, and I feel like I’m just here to observe the insanity and put a spotlight and a punchline on it.
Aisha Bhoori is a queer Pakistani American writer based in Los Angeles by way of the Jersey Shore. She was most recently a story editor on The Staircase (HBO Max) and a staff writer on Ms. Marvel (Disney). Her fiction has been published or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, Nashville Review, and The Harvard Advocate. Aisha is a graduate of Harvard, where she was a three-time recipient of the Edward Eager Memorial Fund Prize for Best Creative Writing, the Harvard Monthly Prize for Greatest Literary Promise, and the David McCord Prize for Unusual Creative Talent in the Arts.
Elizabeth Ai is a Chinese-Vietnamese-American Los Angeles based Emmy award-winning storyteller. She writes and produces independent feature films as well as branded content for companies such as National Geographic, ESPN, and VICE. She’s produced documentary features: Dirty Hands: The Art & Crimes of David Choe and A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem, Saigon Electric, and The Longest Sleep. During her tenure at VICE, she created the original series pilot for cannabis cooking show, Bong Appétit, which got picked up for series on Viceland. Her films are supported by California Humanities, Cinereach, Firelight Media, Independent Television Service, Knight Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Sundance Institute. She received her B.A. from the University of Southern California.
Current project: New Wave — In 1980s California amidst mile-high hair and synthesized music, “Vietnamese new wave” was the catalyst to healing for a generation of refugees. New Wave is a coming-of-age story about the young trailblazers who pioneered a raucous music scene that inspired the cultural architects in their community to rebuild an entertainment industry more influential than the one they left behind in the wake of the Vietnam War.
Where I get inspiration: Motherhood — my three-year-old and watching her experiencing life has been the biggest gift and motivating force. Having spent most of my formative years without a mother, there was a lot of soul searching and figuring things out when my daughter arrived that has grounded me and re-inspired my purpose in telling stories and who I’m sharing them with.
Deidre Backs worked at Alexander Payne’s development company, Ad Hominem, as an assistant to the producer on Cedar Rapids and The Descendants. In the last few years, Backs served under the producer Daniel Lupi on films such as Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies and Ready Player One, as well as Jordan Peele’s Us. Most recently, she produced Erica Tremblay’s short Little Chief, which premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Backs is a 2021 Sundance Producing Fellow and is the recipient of the 2021 Sundance Institute Mark Silverman Honor.
“For my entire life, I’ve been drawn to both activism and movies so I feel particularly lucky at the possibility of being able to meld these two passions into my work.”
Current project: Fancy Dance — Following the disappearance of her sister, a Native American hustler kidnaps her niece from her white grandparents and sets out for the state powwow in the hopes of keeping what’s left of their family intact.
Where I get inspiration: Few things top the deep experience of watching a great movie and of identifying with something separate from yourself while simultaneously discovering something universal within yourself.