Films on Newtown, Conn. tragedy and disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner among documentaries in competition
The Sundance Film Festival today announced films selected for US Documentary Competition and World Documentary Cinema Competition, a diverse lineup featuring work from more than a dozen countries.
Notable films in US Doc Competition include How to Let Go of the World (and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change), the latest documentary from director Josh Fox, who earned an Oscar nomination for anti-fracking film Gasland. Watch the trailer here
Jim, from director Brian Oakes, tells the story of journalist James Foley, whose execution at the hands of ISIS shocked the world.
Newtown by director Kim A. Snyder, recounts the efforts of the Connecticut town to recover from the worst mass shooting of schoolchildren in American history.
Weiner, about Anthony Weiner -- the former member of Congress who seemed more interested in his member than Congress -- directed by Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg.
Director Clay Tweel [Finders Keepers] made the cut for Gleason, his documentary about former NFL defensive back Steve Gleason, who was diagnosed with ALS at age 34.
Full lineup, via Sundance press release:
U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Sixteen world-premiere American documentaries that illuminate the ideas, people, and events that shape the present day.
Audrie & Daisy / U.S.A. (Directors: Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk) — After two high school girls in different towns are sexually assaulted by boys they consider friends, online bullying leads each girl to attempt suicide. Tragically, one dies. Assault in the social media age is explored from the perspectives of the girls and boys involved, as well as their torn-apart communities. World Premiere
Author: The JT LeRoy Story / U.S.A. (Director: Jeff Feuerzeig) — As the definitive look inside the mysterious case of 16-year-old literary sensation JT LeRoy—a creature so perfect for his time that if he didn't exist, someone would have had to invent him—this is the strangest story about story ever told. World Premiere
The Bad Kids / U.S.A. (Directors: Keith Fulton, Lou Pepe) — At a remote Mojave Desert high school, extraordinary educators believe that empathy and life skills, more than academics, give at-risk students command of their own futures. This coming-of-age story watches education combat the crippling effects of poverty in the lives of these so-called "bad kids." World Premiere
Gleason / U.S.A. (Director: Clay Tweel) — At the age of 34, Steve Gleason, former NFL defensive back and New Orleans hero, was diagnosed with ALS. Doctors gave him two to five years to live. So that is what Steve chose to do: Live—both for his wife and newborn son and to help others with this disease. World Premiere
Holy Hell / U.S.A. (Director: undisclosed) — Just out of college, a young filmmaker joins a loving, secretive, and spiritual community led by a charismatic teacher in 1980s West Hollywood. Twenty years later, the group is shockingly torn apart. Told through two decades of the filmmaker’s archival materials, this is their story. World Premiere
How to Let Go of the World (and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change) / U.S.A. (Director: Josh Fox) — Do we have a chance to stop the most destructive consequences of climate change, or is it too late? Academy Award-nominated director Josh Fox (Gasland) travels to 12 countries on six continents to explore what we have to let go of—and all of the things that climate can't change. World Premiere
Jim / U.S.A. (Director: Brian Oakes) — The public execution of American conflict journalist James Foley captured the world’s attention, but he was more than just a man in an orange jumpsuit. Seen through the lens of his close childhood friend, Jimmoves from adrenaline-fueled front lines and devastated neighborhoods of Syria into the hands of ISIS. World Premiere
Kate Plays Christine / U.S.A. (Director: Robert Greene) — This psychological thriller follows actor Kate Lyn Sheil as she prepares to play the role of Christine Chubbuck, a Florida television host who committed suicide on air in 1974. Christine’s tragic death was the inspiration for Network, and the mysteries surrounding her final act haunt Kate and the production. World Premiere
Kiki / U.S.A., Sweden (Director: Sara Jordenö) — Through a strikingly intimate and visually daring lens, Kiki offers a riveting, complex insight into a safe space created and governed by LGBTQ youths of color, who are demanding happiness and political power. The film is an exciting coming-of-age story about agency, resilience, and the transformative art form of voguing. World Premiere
Life, Animated / U.S.A. (Director: Roger Ross Williams) — Owen Suskind, an autistic boy who could not speak for years, slowly emerged from his isolation by immersing himself in Disney animated movies. Using these films as a roadmap, he reconnects with his loving family and the wider world in this emotional coming-of-age story. World Premiere
Newtown / U.S.A. (Director: Kim A. Snyder) — After joining the ranks of a growing club no one wants to belong to, the people of Newtown, Connecticut, weave an intimate story of resilience. This film traces the aftermath of the worst mass shooting of schoolchildren in American history as the traumatized community finds a new sense of purpose. World Premiere
NUTS! / U.S.A. (Director: Penny Lane) — The mostly true story of Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, an eccentric genius who built an empire with his goat-testicle impotence cure and a million-watt radio station. Animated reenactments, interviews, archival footage, and one seriously unreliable narrator trace his rise from poverty to celebrity and influence in 1920s America. World Premiere
Suited / U.S.A. (Director: Jason Benjamin) — Bindle & Keep, a Brooklyn tailoring company, makes custom suits for a growing legion of gender-nonconforming clients. World Premiere
Trapped / U.S.A. (Director: Dawn Porter) — American abortion clinics are in a fight for survival. Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws are increasingly being passed by states that maintain they ensure women’s safety and health, but as clinics continue to shut their doors, opponents believe the real purpose of these laws is to outlaw abortion. World Premiere
Uncle Howard / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Aaron Brookner) — Howard Brookner's first film, Burroughs: The Movie, captured the cultural revolution of downtown New York City in the early '80s. Twenty-five years after his promising career was cut short by AIDS, his nephew sets out to discover Howard's never-before-seen films to create a cinematic elegy about his childhood idol. World Premiere
Weiner / U.S.A. (Directors: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg) — With unrestricted access to Anthony Weiner's New York City mayoral campaign, this film reveals the human story behind the scenes of a high-profile political scandal as it unfolds, and offers an unfiltered look at how much today's politics is driven by an appetite for spectacle. World Premiere
WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Twelve documentaries by some of the most courageous and extraordinary international filmmakers working today.
Eleven documentaries are listed below, and a twelfth will be announced in the weeks ahead.
All These Sleepless Nights / Poland (Director: Michal Marczak) — What does it mean to be truly awake in a world that seems satisfied to be asleep? Kris and Michal push their experiences of life and love to a breaking point as they restlessly roam the streets of Warsaw in search for answers. World Premiere
A Flag Without a Country / Iraq (Director: Bahman Ghobadi) — This documentary follows the very separate paths of singer Helly Luv and pilot Nariman Anwar from Kurdistan, both in pursuit of progress, freedom, and solidarity. Both individuals are a source of strength to their society, which perpetually deals with the harsh conditions of life, war, and ISIS attacks. North American Premiere
Hooligan Sparrow / China, U.S.A. (Director: Nanfu Wang) — Traversing southern China, a group of activists led by Ye Haiyan, a.k.a. Hooligan Sparrow, protest a scandalous incident in which a school principal and a government official allegedly raped six students. Sparrow becomes an enemy of the state, but detentions, interrogations and evictions can’t stop her protest from going viral. World Premiere
The Land of the Enlightened / Belgium (Director: Pieter-Jan De Pue) — A group of Kuchi children in Afghanistan dig out old Soviet mines and sell the explosives to child workers in a lapis lazuli mine. When not dreaming of an Afghanistan after the American withdrawal, Gholam Nasir and his gang control the mountains where caravans are smuggling the blue gemstones. World Premiere
The Lovers and the Despot / United Kingdom (Directors: Robert Cannan, Ross Adam) — Following the collapse of their glamorous romance, a celebrity director and his actress ex-wife are kidnapped by movie-obsessed dictator Kim Jong-il. Forced to make films in extraordinary circumstances, they get a second chance at love—but only one chance at escape. World Premiere
Plaza de la Soledad / Mexico (Director: Maya Goded) — For over 20 years, photographer Maya Goded has intimately documented the lives of a close community of prostitutes in Mexico City. With dignity and humor, these women now strive for a better life — and the possibility of true love. World Premiere
The Settlers / France, Canada, Israel, Germany (Director: Shimon Dotan) — The first film of its kind to offer a comprehensive view of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, The Settlers is a historical overview, geopolitical study, and intimate look at the people at the core of the most daunting challenge facing Israel and the international community today. World Premiere
Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang / U.S.A. (Director: Kevin Macdonald) — Having reached the pinnacle of the global art world with his signature explosion events and gunpowder drawings, world-famous Chinese contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang is still seeking more. We trace his rise from childhood in Mao’s China and his journey to attempt to realize his lifelong obsession, Sky Ladder. World Premiere. DAY ONE FILM
Sonita / Germany, Iran, Switzerland (Director: Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami) — If 18-year-old Sonita had a say, Michael Jackson and Rihanna would be her parents and she'd be a rapper who tells the story of Afghan women and their fate as child brides. She finds out that her family plans to sell her to an unknown husband for $9,000. North American Premiere
We Are X / United Kingdom, U.S.A., Japan (Director: Stephen Kijak) — As glam rock's most flamboyant survivors, X Japan ignited a musical revolution in Japan during the late '80s with their melodic metal. Twenty years after their tragic dissolution, X Japan’s leader, Yoshiki, battles with physical and spiritual demons alongside prejudices of the West to bring their music to the world. World Premiere
When Two Worlds Collide / Peru (Directors: Heidi Brandenburg, Mathew Orzel) — An indigenous leader resists the environmental ruin of Amazonian lands by big business. As he is forced into exile and faces 20 years in prison, his quest reveals conflicting visions that shape the fate of the Amazon and the climate future of our world. 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.