The 16 films screening in the Documentary Competition at this month’s Sundance Film Festival (January 10 to 20) investigate a wide range of subjects, from the trials of gay fathers to a nun’s war on drugs. A number of the films have U.S. broadcast deals in place, but most still seek international and theatrical interest.
HBO has nabbed a number of Sundance doc titles. Director Lee Hirsch’s Amandla! a revolution in four part harmony received funds from HBO and the South African Broadcasting Corporation, and both outlets will run the film. American Standoff, produced by Barbara Kopple and directed by Kristi Jacobson, is an HBO film slated to air in June. The Execution of Wanda Jean, filmmaker Liz Garbus’ doc, will air in March as part of HBO’s ‘America Undercover’ strand, and Sister Helen, produced and directed by Rob Fruchtman and Rebecca Cammisa, will go out as a Cinemax ‘Reel Life’ doc.
The Independent Television Service provided funds through a production licensing agreement for five competition docs. All five receive distribution on PBS, while itvs holds U.S. TV rights. Daddy and Papa, by Johnny Symons; Senorita Extraviada, by Lourdes Portillo; and Two Towns of Jasper, directed by Whitney Dow and Marco Williams, will all air on pbs later this year. Daughter from Danang, directed by Gail Dolgin and Vincente Franco, will go out on PBS’ ‘American Experience’ strand in 2003, while Avon Kirkland’s Ralph Ellison: An American Journey will air on PBS’ ‘American Masters’ on February 19, 2002.
At press time, returning Sundance director Judith Helfand and filmmaker Daniel B. Gold, attending this year with Blue Vinyl, were in negotiations for U.S. broadcast rights with an undisclosed party, but were seeking theatrical and international distribution. Close to Home, by Vanessa Roth and Alexandra Dickson, and The Cockettes, from Bill Weber and David Weissman, were free agents, as was Family Fundamentals from director Arthur Dong, and How to Draw a Bunny by director John Walter. Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman were considering self-distributing Derrida. Lisa Ades’ Miss America is set to air on PBS’ ‘American Experience’ on January 27.