Sundance ’13: Maysles, Spurlock among doc short filmmakers

Albert Maysles (pictured), Morgan Spurlock and Alexandra Pelosi are among the filmmakers featuring in the 2013 Sundance Film Festival's short docs program.
December 4, 2012

Albert Maysles (pictured), Morgan Spurlock and Alexandra Pelosi are among the filmmakers featuring in the 2013 Sundance Film Festival’s 15-strong short docs program.

The Secret of Trees, from 86-year-old Maysles, looks at a teen’s discovery that trees use a mathematical formula to gather sunlight in crowded forests; while Fall to Grace, from Pelosi – daughter of U.S. politician Nancy Pelosi – looks at the life of former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey.

Meanwhile, Spurlock’s effort, You Don’t Know Jack, looks at a high school sophomore who has purportedly developed a revolutionary new test for pancreatic cancer.

Sundance takes place in Park City, Utah, from January 17-27. The full line up of Documentary Short Films, with descriptions provided by the festival, follows below:

30% (Women and Politics in Sierra Leone) / United Kingdom, Sierra Leone (Director: Anna Cady)

Oil-painted animation brings to life the stories of three powerful women in post-conflict Sierra Leone, revealing the violence and corruption women face as they fight for fairer representation in the governance of their country.

The Battle of amfAR / U.S.A. (Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman, Screenwriter: Sharon Wood)

When AIDS strikes, two very different women – Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor and research scientist Dr. Mathilde Krim – join forces to create America’s first AIDS research foundation.  The fight against HIV/AIDS has never been the same.

Catnip: Egress to Oblivion? / U.S.A. (Director: Jason Willis)

Catnip is all the rage with today’s modern feline, but do we really understand it? This film frankly discusses the facts about this controversial substance.

Endless Day / Germany (Director: Anna Frances Ewert)

For most people, sleep comes naturally, but for others, the night turns into an ongoing struggle to drift off into oblivion. This film explores what it’s like to be awake involuntarily and the feelings that accompany the passing of sleepless time.

Fall to Grace / U.S.A. (Director: Alexandra Pelosi)

Former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey famously resigned from office after declaring himself “a gay American.” Since then, he has continued to use his connections to help rehabilitate women and to make peace with his journey from married governor to gay suburban priest.

Irish Folk Furniture / Ireland (Director: Tony Donoghue)

In Ireland, old hand-painted furniture is often associated with hard times, with poverty, and with a time many would rather forget. In this animated documentary, 16 pieces of traditional folk furniture are repaired and returned home.

Outlawed in Pakistan / Pakistan, U.S.A. (Directors: Habiba Nosheen, Hilke Schellmann)

Kainat Soomro, a Pakistani teenager, accuses four men from her village of gang-raping her. She takes her case to the Pakistani courts and faces a deeply flawed criminal-justice system.

Paraíso / U.S.A. (Director: Nadav Kurtz)

Three immigrant window cleaners risk their lives every day rappelling down some of Chicago’s tallest skyscrapers. Paraíso reveals the danger of their job and what they see on the way down.

The Roper / U.S.A. (Director: Ewan McNicol)

A black man with hip-hop and zydeco roots hard grafts through the local, all-white rodeo circuits in the Deep South, as he dreams of competing in the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

The Secret of Trees / U.S.A. (Director: Albert Maysles)

What do trees know that we don’t? Thirteen-year-old inventor Aidan has discovered that trees use a mathematical formula to gather sunlight in crowded forests. Now he wonders why we don’t collect solar energy in the same way.

Skinningrove / U.S.A. (Director: Michael Almereyda)

Photographer Chris Killip shares unpublished images chronicling time spent among the fiercely independent residents of a remote English fishing village.

A Story for the Modlins / Spain (Director: Sergio Oksman, Screenwriter: Sergio Oksman)

The tale of Elmer Modlin, who, after appearing in Rosemary’s Baby, fled with his family to a far-off country and shut himself away in a dark apartment for 30 years.

When the Zombies Come / U.S.A. (Director: Jon Hurst)

At a remote hardware store, fans of the walking dead have turned their love of zombies into an obsession, warping the way they see the store and its customers.

The Whistle / Poland (Director: Grzegorz Zariczny)

Marcin, a lowest-leagues football referee who lives in a small town near Krakow, dreams of better times. At his mother’s urging, he decides to change his life and find himself a girlfriend and a better job.

You Don’t Know Jack / U.S.A. (Director: Morgan Spurlock)

Jack Andraka, a high school sophomore, has developed a revolutionary new test for pancreatic cancer, proving the future of science is in the hands of our youth.


About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.