As surely as boozy crooning of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ marks the New Year, the programmers of the Sundance Film Festival (in Park City, U.S., January 15 to 25) can be counted upon to premiere a raft of docs that go on to fame and fortune – or at least a limited theatrical run.
According to festival director Geoffrey Gilmore, this year’s crop includes many titles that are industry buzz-worthy. Five of the 16 docs in competition are strong contenders for attention by broadcasters and distribs worldwide. As always, they offer audiences novel views on the world around them, Gilmore says.
They include Ivy Meeropol’s Heir to the Execution, Stanley Nelson’s A Place of Our Own, Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me and Alison Maclean and Tobias Perse’s Persons of Interest. They range in topic from personal reflections on capital punishment (Meeropol looks at the execution of her grandparents Ethel and Julius Rosenberg) to an offbeat take on the obesity epidemic (Spurlock recounts his 30-day experiment of eating only McDonald’s food), while Nelson examines a black summer-resort community in Martha’s Vineyard, U.S., and Maclean and Perse focus on Muslim Americans who have been detained by the U.S. government as part of its war on terrorism.
A doc that obviously stands out for Gilmore is the festival opener. Directed by Stacey Peralta (Dog Town and Z Boys), Riding Giants takes a you-are-there look at extreme-wave surfing. ‘It appeals to both the built-in audience of the surfing-culture world and…the documentary [film] world,’ Gilmore says.
To see the complete festival lineup, visit //festival.sundance.org/index3.html.