Topics of racial tension, gender inequality, cultural misinformation, and tolerance are more prevalent than ever in this hyper-global era. Several films currently premiering at Sundance Film Festival 2016 speak to these societal issues. “Sand Storm” discusses difficulties in Bedouin culture, “The Birth of a Nation” underscores corruption in its rawest form, “Notes on Blindness” tells a story of overcoming self-acceptance, and “Equity” features a woman in a Wall Street role for the first time.

“Sand Storm” brings to light the struggles of being a young girl trying to will herself away from traditional ideals in a polygamous Middle Eastern village. The film is centered around Jalila, a woman who must host a celebration for her husband’s second wife, and her daughter, Layla. Harboring a secret forbidden love affair, Layla wants to break free of tradition. In order to survive, the two women must ultimately learn from each other.

“…Jalila and Layla remain caught between loyalty to their disintegrating family and an emerging hunger for autonomy and experience that are prohibited by their medieval fate.” – Variety

The most illuminating premiere at Sundance was with “The Birth of a Nation,” a true story about slave prophet turned rebellion leader, Nat Turner. Dark and gritty, the film makes sure the audience is aware of how brutal this aspect of American history really was, and why we must learn from it to move forward.

“The rebellion itself is an intense and gruesome affair — at times shot like a historical epic, at times like a horror movie, at times like an action movie, complete with a head-crushing, throat-slicing mêlée near the end.” – Vulture

“Notes on Blindness” walks us through what it’s like to suddenly become handicap while the world is happening around you. Based on audio cassette recordings of John Hull’s personal account of dealing with becoming blind, it’s a powerful narrative of developing tolerance. He initially equates acceptance with defeat, but finds inspiration through rediscovering the world. This attitude is necessary to grow both personally and as a society.

“The story of loss, rebirth and transformation documents Hull’s extraordinary journey into “a world beyond sight.” – Deadline

While the plot of “Equity” isn’t necessarily groundbreaking, that’s not the point. What the film does is help women in Hollywood (and the real world) move outside of traditional less dominant roles.

“Promoting itself as “the first female-driven Wall Street movie,” the film’s plot revolves mostly around female characters, while it’s also been directed (by Meera Menon), written (by Amy Fox) and produced (by co-stars Alysia Reiner and Sarah Megan Thomas) by women. And yet, perhaps the most winning thing about Equity it that it’s not some kind of worthy empowerment drama about sisters doing if for themselves.” – Hollywood Reporter