Sundance: 'The Farewell' and 'Late Night' Directors on the 4% Challenge

During a panel discussion at SundanceTV HQ with the Hollywood Reporter's Rebecca Ford, some of the fest's biggest directing talent talked about the initiative.

One of the big stories out of Sundance this year has been the 4% Challenge, a pledge initiated by USC’s Dr. Stacy L. Smith to encourage filmmakers to work with women directors within the next 18 months. Big-name talent like Paul Feig, Amy Schumer and Tessa Thompson have already accepted the challenge.

During a panel discussion at SundanceTV HQ with The Hollywood Reporter's Rebecca Ford, some of the fest's biggest directing talent — Stephen Merchant (Fighting With My Family), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Nisha Ganatra (Late Night), Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind) and Gavin Hood (Official Secrets) — talked about the initiative.

"Every year people talk about female filmmakers and every year the statistics keep going down," said Ganatra, who is behind the biggest sale of the fest so far, with Amazon snapping up rights to Late Night for $13 million. "Who's behind the camera matters. Women's stories, particularly, absolutely change with a woman behind the camera. I think those initiatives help."

Added Wang: "I hope that there is one day where people don't have to agree to work with female directors." Wang's autobiographical story received overwhelmingly positive reviews and sold to A24 in a seven-figure deal.

"I want it where it's like, 'Hell yeah! I am so frickin' excited!' And it isn't pushed on you by an initiative." But, Wang notes, "At this moment we do need it because that isn't happening."