Film Program Director Accepted to 2020 Sundance Film Festival

December 11, 2019

On Tuesday, Dec. 10, it was announced that Film Program Director and Assistant Professor Mike Attie’s short documentary Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa has been selected for inclusion in the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Attie’s film was chosen from over 10,000 submissions and will screen in Park City, Salt Lake City and Sundance Mountain Resort from Jan. 23 to Feb. 2, 2020. 

“I was quite surprised by the news, as we really just submitted on a lark,” says Attie, who co-directed the piece with filmmakers Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater. The film screened at the Guttmacher Institute in New York and was an official selection of the Philadelphia Film Festival in October, as well as being included in DOC NYC’s Shorts: Ways of Seeing in November.

Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa follows the work of the Philadelphia abortion hotline phone counselors—all called Lisa—who arrive each morning to seemingly endless calls from people who are seeking to terminate pregnancies and can’t afford to. Counselors struggle to stretch available funds, raised from private donations, often having to work with a dangerous matter of timing. Attie’s film aims to give a voice to women and teens impacted by economic stigma and discrimatory policies like the Hyde Amendment, enacted in 1976 with the adverse effect of denying poor individuals access to abortion.

“Independent artists create and enrich global culture. This year’s festival is full of films that showcase myriad ways for stories to drive change, across hearts, minds and societies,” said Sundance Institute’s president and founder Robert Redford in the festival’s Dec. 4 feature film announcement.

The festival—Sundance Institute’s flagship public program—is widely regarded as the largest independent film festival in the U.S., attracting over 120,000 attendees and 1,300 accredited members of the press. Attie will be attending the festival’s annual director orientation and celebration in New York with UArts grad Caitlin Riggsbee BFA ’17 (Film & Video).

“There was a lot of UArts in this piece,” says Attie. Two of his former students, Riggsbee and Courtney Kehr BFA ’19 (Film & Video), worked as sound recordists, and a future part-time faculty member will be doing the score and mixing sound. Attie hopes to continue these collaborative partnerships for the film, hinting at a possible collaboration with UArts’ Graphic Design department on poster design.

He added, “My hope is that this is just the beginning of the life cycle of this film!”

See the full list of short films.

Learn more about the Film program at UArts.


*Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute