Films on Robert Mapplethorpe, Frank Zappa, Anderson Cooper, O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson among new titles added
The Sundance Film Festival today added more powerhouse filmmakers to its 2016 slate.
D.A. Pennebaker, Werner Herzog, Spike Lee, Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato and Liz Garbus are among the talented directors who will open their latest films in the Sundance Documentary Premieres section.
Lee's film Michael Jackson's Journey from Motown to Off the Wall explores the impact of MJ's Off the Wall album, which established the future King of Pop as a potent solo recording artist.
Chris Hegedus and Pennebaker will premiere their latest documentary, Unlocking the Cage, which focuses on animal rights attorney Steven Wise and his campaign "to transform an animal from a thing with no rights to a person with legal protections."
Herzog unveils LO AND BEHOLD, Reveries of the Connected World, a film exploring the significance of the internet.
Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, the famed duo behind The Eyes of Tammy Faye, train their eyes on late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the documentary Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures.
Liz Garbus, who premiered What Happened, Miss Simone? to acclaim at Sundance last January, returns to the festival in 2016 with Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper, in which, the festival says, "Gloria Vanderbilt and her son Anderson Cooper each tell the story of their past and present, their loves and losses."
[Editor's note: this is an interesting turn of events for Cooper; I was his producer when he covered the Sundance Film Festival in 2003].
Director Thorsten Schütte will premiere his documentary Eat That Question—Frank Zappa in His Own Words, a film which Sundance says "dashes a few myths" about the late musician.
As part of a "special events" section, Sundance will screen the nearly eight hour-long documentary O.J.: Made in America directed by Ezra Edelman. According to the festival, "The film explores Simpson's rise and fall, centered around two of America's greatest fixations—race and celebrity."
Sundance news release on Documentary Premieres:
Renowned filmmakers and films about far-reaching subjects comprise this section highlighting our ongoing commitment to documentaries.
Eat That Question—Frank Zappa in His Own Words / France, Germany (Director: Thorsten Schütte) — This entertaining encounter with the premier of sonic avant-garde is acidic, fun-poking, and full of rich and rare archival footage. This documentary bashes favorite Zappa targets and dashes a few myths about the man himself. World Premiere
Film Hawk / U.S.A. (Directors: JJ Garvine, Tai Parquet) — Trace Bob Hawk's early years as the young gay child of a Methodist minister to his current career as a consultant on some of the most influential independent films of our time. World Premiere
LO AND BEHOLD, Reveries of the Connected World / U.S.A. (Director: Werner Herzog) — Does the internet dream of itself? Explore the horizons of the connected world. World Premiere
Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures / U.S.A. (Directors: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato) — This examination of Robert Mapplethorpe's outrageous life is led by the artist himself, speaking with brutal honesty in a series of rediscovered interviews about his passions. Intimate revelations from friends, family, and lovers shed new light on this scandalous artist who ignited a culture war that still rages on. World Premiere
Maya Angelou And Still I Rise / U.S.A. (Directors: Bob Hercules, Rita Coburn Whack) — The remarkable story of Maya Angelou — iconic writer, poet, actress and activist whose life has intersected some of the most profound moments in recent American history. World Premiere
Michael Jackson's Journey from Motown to Off the Wall / U.S.A. (Director: Spike Lee) — Catapulted by the success of his first major solo project, Off the Wall, Michael Jackson went from child star to King of Pop. This film explores the seminal album, with rare archival footage and interviews from those who were there and those whose lives its success and legacy impacted. World Premiere
Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You / U.S.A. (Directors: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady) — How did a poor Jewish kid from Connecticut bring us Archie Bunker and become one of the most successful television producers ever? Norman Lear brought provocative subjects like war, poverty, and prejudice into 120 million homes every week. He proved that social change was possible through an unlikely prism: laughter. World Premiere. DAY ONE FILM
Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper / U.S.A. (Director: Liz Garbus) — Gloria Vanderbilt and her son Anderson Cooper each tell the story of their past and present, their loves and losses, and reveal how some family stories have the tendency to repeat themselves in the most unexpected ways. World Premiere
Resilience / U.S.A. (Director: James Redford) — This film chronicles the birth of a new movement among pediatricians, therapists, educators, and communities using cutting-edge brain science to disrupt cycles of violence, addiction, and disease. These professionals help break the cycles of adversity by daring to talk about the effects of divorce, abuse, and neglect. World Premiere
Richard Linklater—dream is destiny / U.S.A. (Directors: Louis Black, Karen Bernstein) — This is an unconventional look at a fiercely independent style of filmmaking that arose in the 1990s from Austin, Texas, outside the studio system. The film blends rare archival footage with journals, exclusive interviews with Linklater on and off set, and clips from Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Boyhood, and more. World Premiere
Under the Gun / U.S.A. (Director: Stephanie Soechtig) — The Sandy Hook massacre was considered a watershed moment in the national debate on gun control, but the body count at the hands of gun violence has only increased. Through the lens of the victims' families, as well as pro-gun advocates, we examine why our politicians have failed to act. World Premiere
Unlocking the Cage / U.S.A. (Directors: Chris Hegedus, Donn Alan Pennebaker) — Follow animal rights lawyer Steven Wise in his unprecedented challenge to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans. By filing the first lawsuit of its kind, Wise seeks to transform a chimpanzee from a "thing" with no rights to a "person" with basic legal protection. World Premiere
SUNDANCE SPECIAL EVENTS:
Chelsea Does / U.S.A. (Director: Eddie Schmidt) — This four-part documentary series features Chelsea Handler as she explores topics of personal and universal fascination: marriage, racism, Silicon Valley, and drugs. The Festival will premiere one installment of the series with clips from the other three installments, followed by an extended Q&A with Chelsea Handler, Director Eddie Schmidt, and Executive Producer Morgan Neville. World Premiere
The New Yorker Presents / U.S.A. (Executive Producers: Alex Gibney, Kahane Cooperman, Showrunner: Kahane Cooperman) — A groundbreaking new series that brings America's most award-winning magazine, The New Yorker, to the screen with documentaries, short narrative films, comedy, poetry, animation, and cartoons from the hands of acclaimed filmmakers and artists. The Festival will premiere the first two episodes of the series, followed by an extended Q&A. World Premiere
O.J.: Made in America / U.S.A. (Director: Ezra Edelman) — This is the story of O.J. Simpson, one of the most polarizing people of the twentieth century, and the city in which he lived for much of his life, Los Angeles. The film explores Simpson's rise and fall, centered around two of America's greatest fixations—race and celebrity. The Festival will premiere the full 7.5-hour documentary, followed by an extended Q&A. World Premiere
United Shades of America / U.S.A. (Executive Producers: Jimmy Fox, W. Kamau Bell, Star Price) — Political comedian W. Kamau Bell explores the racial subcultures of America. In this original series premiere, he uses humor to challenge Klansmen looking to rebrand their message. The screening will include an extended Q&A. World Premiere
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and Documentary.org.