Today the list of films in competition at the 2011 Sundance was announced. Of those were the 28 documentaries that make up the US and World Cinema documentary competitions.
We’ll go into more depth with each of the films on the site as we get closer to the festival, but an initial look shows a fantastic mixture of first-time filmmakers alongside big names such as James Marsh, Marshall Curry and David Sington. Last year saw a large number of heavyweight directors at the festival and so it will be great to see such a variety of filmmakers and subject matter. However, this year is as interesting when you look at the producers of some of the docs – Simon Chinn, Julie Goldman, Havana Marking and Eddie Schmidt are just a few of the Sundance veterans and previous winners representing films in competition.
The trailer for Michael Rapaport’s A Tribe Called Quest documentary was released today and that, along with the full list of documentaries announced, is after the jump.
U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
This year’s 16 films were selected from 841 submissions. Each is a world premiere.
Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest (Director: Michael Rapaport) – The story of the rise and influence of one of the most innovative and influential hip hop bands of all time, the collective known as A Tribe Called Quest.
BEING ELMO: A Puppeteer’s Journey (Director: Constance Marks) – The Muppet Elmo is one of the most beloved characters among children across the globe. Meet the unlikely man behind the puppet – the heart and soul of Elmo – Kevin Clash.
Buck (Director: Cindy Meehl) – In a story about the power of non-violence, master horse trainer Buck Brannaman uses principles of respect and trust to tame horses and inspire their human counterparts.
Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death & Technology (Director: Tiffany Shlain; Screenwriters: Tiffany Shlain, Ken Goldberg, Carlton Evans and Sawyer Steele) -Connected is an exhilarating stream-of-consciousness ride through the interconnectedness of humankind, nature, progress and morality at the dawn of the 21st century. For centuries we’ve been declaring independence. With insight, curiosity, and humor, the film explores whether it’s time to declare our interdependence.
Crime After Crime (Director: Yoav Potash) – Debbie Peagler is a survivor of brutal domestic violence incarcerated for her connection to the murder of her abuser. Two decades later a pair of rookie land-use attorneys cut their teeth on her case, attracting global attention to the troubled intersection of domestic violence and criminal justice.
Hot Coffee (Director: Susan Saladoff) – Following subjects whose lives have been devastated by an inability to access the courts, this film shows that many long-held beliefs about our civil justice system have been paid for by corporate America.
How to Die in Oregon (Director: Peter D. Richardson) – In 1994 Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. How to Die in Oregon gently enters the lives of terminally ill Oregonians to illuminate the power of death with dignity.
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (Director: Marshall Curry) – The Earth Liberation Front is a radical environmental group that the FBI calls America’s ‘number one domestic terrorist threat.’ Daniel McGowan, an ELF member, faces life in prison for two multi-million dollar arsons against Oregon timber companies. But who is really to blame?
The Last Mountain (Director: Bill Haney; Screenwriters: Bill Haney and Peter Rhodes) – A coal mining corporation and a tiny community vie for the last great mountain in Appalachia in a battle for the future of energy that affects us all.
Miss Representation (Director: Jennifer Siebel Newsom; Screenwriters: Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Jessica Congdon) – Miss Representation uncovers how American mainstream media’s limited and disparaging portrayals of women contribute to the under-representation of women in power positions – creating another generation of women defined by youth, beauty and sexuality, and not by their capacity as leaders.
Page One: A year inside the New York Times (Director: Andrew Rossi; Screenwriters: Kate Novack and Andrew Rossi) – Unprecedented access to the New York Times newsroom yields a complex view of the transformation of a media landscape fraught with both peril and opportunity.
The Redemption of General Butt Naked (Directors: Eric Strauss and Daniele Anastasion) – A brutal warlord who murdered thousands during Liberia’s horrific 14-year civil war renounces his violent past and reinvents himself as an Evangelist, facing those he once terrorized.
Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles (Director: Jon Foy) – An urban mystery unfurls as one man pieces together the surreal meaning of hundreds of cryptic tiled messages that have been appearing in city streets across the U.S. and South America.
Sing Your Song (A film by Susanne Rostock) – Most people know the lasting legacy of Harry Belafonte, the entertainer; this film unearths his significant contribution to and his leadership in the civil rights movement in America and to social justice globally.
Troubadours (Director: Morgan Neville) – A musical journey tracing the lives and careers of James Taylor and Carole King, pillars of the California singer/songwriter scene, which converged in and around LA’s Troubadour Club in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
We Were Here (Director: David Weissman) – A deep and reflective look at the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco and how individuals rose to the occasion during the first years of this unimaginable crisis.
WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
This year’s 12 films were selected from 796 international documentary submissions.
An African Election / Switzerland, U.S.A. (Director: Jarreth Merz) – The 2008 presidential elections in Ghana, West Africa, serve as a backdrop for this feature documentary that looks behind the scenes at the complex, political machinery of a third-world democracy struggling to avoid civil war and establish stability for good. North American Premiere
The Bengali Detective / India, U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Phil Cox) – Chubby, dance-obsessed private-detective Rajesh Ji and his motley band of helpers tackle poisonings, adultery and the occasional murder on the frenzied streets of Kolkata. World Premiere
The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 / Sweden, U.S.A. (Director: Göran Olsson) – From 1967 to 1975, Swedish journalists chronicled the Black Power movement in America. Combining that 16mm footage, undiscovered until now, with contemporary audio interviews, this film illuminates the people and culture that fueled change and brings the movement to life anew. World Premiere
Family Portrait in Black and White / Canada (Director: Julia Ivanova) – In a small Ukrainian town, Olga Nenya, raises 16 black orphans amidst a population of Slavic blue-eyed blondes. Their stories expose the harsh realities of growing up as a bi-racial child in Eastern Europe. World Premiere
The Flaw / United Kingdom (Director: David Sington) – Within a few months in 2008, several American financial institutions failed, and before you knew it the U.S.A. was in the red. An imaginative blend of archive, animation and personal stories delivers a devastating indictment of the unfettered capitalism which has led to crippling, catastrophic income inequality in the land of the free. North American Premiere
The Green Wave (Irans grüner Sommer) / Germany (Director: Ali Samadi Ahadi) – Animated blogs and tweets tell the story of democracy under fire and hopes dashed as protesters are arrested, tortured and raped during Iran’s tumultuous elections of June 2009.North American Premiere
Hell and Back Again / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Danfung Dennis) – Told through the eyes of one Marine from the start of his 2009 Aghanistan tour to his distressing return and rehabilitation in the U.S., we witness what modern “unconventional” warfare really means to the men who are fighting it. World Premiere
KNUCKLE / Ireland, United Kingdom (Director: Ian Palmer) – An epic 12-year journey into the brutal and secretive world of Irish Traveler bare-knuckle fighting, this film follows a history of violent feuding between rival clans. World Premiere
Position Among the Stars (Stand Van De Sterren) / Netherlands (Director: Leonard Retel Helmrich) – The effects of globalization in Indonesia’s rapidly changing society ripple into the life of a poor Christian woman living in the slums of Jakarta with her Muslim sons and teenage granddaughter. International Premiere
Project Nim / United Kingdom (Director: James Marsh) – From the Oscar-winning team behind Man on Wire comes the story of Nim, the chimpanzee who was taught to communicate with language as he was raised and nurtured like a human child. World Premiere
Senna / United Kingdom (Director: Asif Kapadia; Screenwriter: Manish Pandey) – The story of the legendary racing driver and Brazilian hero Ayrton Senna takes us on the ultimate journey of what it means to become the greatest when faced with the constant possibility of death. North American Premiere
Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure / Australia, U.S.A. (Director: Matthew Bate) – When two friends tape-recorded the fights of their violently noisy neighbors, they accidentally created one of the world’s first ‘viral’ pop-culture sensations. World Premiere