The DocBlog at Sundance…

…for three days.

It’s better than nothing, no? I’m currently in my hotel room in Salt Lake City with my fellow Film Junk podcast host Sean Dwyer. We’ve spent our first day at Sundance sorting out our press passes, eating and DVD shopping. (Picked up Doug Pray’s ‘Surfwise’. Been waiting to see that.) Over the next two days, we hope to squeeze in as many movies as we possibly can; some of which will certainly be documentaries. Actually, our very first screening is James Toback’s documentary ‘Tyson’ tomorrow at 8:30am. Early as hell, but should be good. I’m also hoping to catch Thrills in Manila, Big River Man and possibly The Reporter. I’ll also be catching some non-non-fiction films as well, so you can here what I have to say about all of them on this Monday’s Film Junk podcast.

Here’s a list of this years docs. (I don’t think I missed any):

US Competition Films

Art & Copy (Director: Doug Pray; Screenwriter: Timothy J. Sexton)—Rare interviews with the most influential advertising creative minds of our age illustrate the wide-reaching effect advertising and creativity have on modern culture.

Boy Interrupted (Director: Dana Perry)—An intimate look at the life, mental illness and death of a young man told from the point of view of the filmmaker: his mother.

The Cove (Director: Louie Psihoyos; Screenwriter: Mark Monroe)—Dolphins are dying, whales are disappearing, and the oceans are growing sick. The horrors of a secret cove nestled off a small, coastal village in Japan are revealed by a group of activists led by Ric O’Barry, the man behind Flipper.

Crude (Director: Joe Berlinger)—The inside story of the “Amazon Chernobyl” case in the rainforest of Ecuador, the largest oil-related environmental lawsuit in the world.

Dirt! The Movie (Directors: Bill Benenson and Gene Rosow)—The story of the relationship between humans and dirt, Dirt! The Movie humorously details how humans are rapidly destroying the last natural resource on earth.

El General (Director: Natalia Almada)—As great-granddaughter of Mexican President Plutarco Elias Calles, one of The ReckoningMexico’s most controversial revolutionary figures, filmmaker Natalia Almada paints an intimate portrait of Mexico.

Good Hair (Director: Jeff Stilson)—Comedian Chris Rock turns documentary filmmaker when he sets out to examine the culture of African-American hair and hairstyles.

Over the Hills and Far Away (Director: Michel Orion Scott)—Over the Hills and Far Away chronicles the journey of the Isaacson family as they travel through Mongolia in search of a mysterious shaman they believe can heal their autistic son.

The Reckoning (Director: Pamela Yates; Screenwriters: Peter Kinoy, Paco de Onís, Pamela Yates)—A battle of monumental proportions unfolds as International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo faces down warlords, genocidal dictators and world superpowers in bringing perpetrators of crimes against humanity to justice.

Reporter (Director: Eric Daniel Metzgar)—Set in Africa, this documentary chronicles, in verité fashion, the haunting, physically grueling and shocking voyage of Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, Nicholas D. Kristof.

The September Issue (Director: R.J. Cutler)—With unprecedented access, director R.J. Cutler and his crew shot for nine months as they captured Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour and her team preparing the 2007 Vogue September issue, widely accepted as the “fashion bible” for the year’s trends.

Sergio (Director: Greg Barker)—Sergio examines the role of the United Nations and the international community through the life and experiences of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, including interviews with those who knew and worked with him over the course of his extraordinary career.

Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech (Director: Liz Garbus)—An exploration of the history and current state of free speech in America narrated by the filmmaker’s father, First Amendment attorney Martin Garbus.

We Live in Public (Director and Screenwriter: Ondi Timoner)—We Live in Public is the story of the Internet’s revolutionary impact on human interaction as told through the eyes of maverick web pioneer, Josh Harris and his transgressive art project that shocked New York.

When You’re Strange (Director and Screenwriter: Tom DiCillo)—The first feature documentary about The Doors, When You’re Strange enters the dark and dangerous world of one of America’s most influential bands using only footage shot between 1966 and 1971.

William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe (Directors: Sarah Kunstler and Emily Kunstler)—With clients including Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and the Chicago 10, the late civil rights attorney William Kunstler was one of the most famous lawyers of the 20th century. Filmmakers Emily and Sarah Kunstler explore their father’s life from movement hero to “the most hated lawyer in America.”

World Competition Films:

211:ANNA (Italy)
Directed by Paolo Serbandini & Giovanna Massimetti
The story of Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist and human rights activist who risked her life to report the truth about the Chechen conflict and President Vladimir Putin.

AFGHAN STAR (Afghanistan/UK)
Directed by Havana Marking
After 30 years of war and Taliban rule, Pop Idol has come to television in Afghanistan: millions are watching and voting for their favorite singer. This film follows the dramatic stories of four contestants as they risk their lives to sing.

BIG RIVER MAN (USA)
Directed by John Maringouin
An overweight, wine-swilling Slovenian world-record-holding endurance swimmer resolves to brave the mighty Amazon–in nothing but a Speedo.

BURMA VJ (Denmark)
Directed by Anders Oestergaard
In September 2007, Burmese journalists risking life imprisonment to report from inside their sealed-off country are suddenly thrown onto the global stage as their pocket camera images of the Saffron Revolution make headlines everywhere.

THE END OF THE LINE (UK)
Directed by Rupert Murray
Based on the book by journalist Charles Clover, The End of the Line reveals the devastating effect that global overfishing is having on fish stocks and the health of our oceans.

THE GLASS HOUSE (USA)
Directed by Hamid Rahmanian
The Glass House follows four teenage girls striving to overcome drug addiction, abandonment and abuse by attending a rehabilitation center in Tehran.

KIMJONGILIA (France)
Directed by N.C. Heikin
Defectors from North Korea finally speak out about the terrifying reality of their lives–and escapes.

LET’S MAKE MONEY (Austria/China/South Africa/Spain/Switzerland/U.S.A.)
Directed by Erwin Wagenhofer
From the factories of India, to financial markets in Singapore, to massive housing developments in Spain and offshore banks in Jersey, Let’s Make Money reveals complex and shocking workings of global money flow.

NOLLYWOOD BABYLON (Canada)
Directed by Ben Addelman and Samir Mallal
Welcome to the wacky world of Nollywood, Nigeria’s bustling home-grown movie industry. U.S. Premiere
Old Partner / South Korea (Director: Chung-ryoul Lee)–A humble octogenarian farmer lives out his final days with his spitfire wife and his loyal old ox in the Korean countryside.

PROM NIGHT IN MISSISSIPPI (Canada)
Directed by Paul Saltzman
When a small-town Mississippi high school resolves to hold its first integrated senior prom, strong emotions fly and traditions are challenged to their core.

THE QUEEN AND I (Drottningen och jag) (Sweden)
Directed by Nahid Persson Sarvestani
Swedish filmmaker Sarvestani, an Iranian exile who helped overthrow the Shah’s regime in 1979, confronts her own assumptions and complex truths about Iran when she enters the life of the Shah’s widow.

QUEST FOR HONOR (Kurdistan / USA)
Directed by Mary Ann Bruni
A former teacher and tireless activist works with local lawmen, Kurdish government agencies and her colleagues to investigate and eradicate honor killings in the tribal regions of Kurdistan.

ROUGH AUNTIES (UK)
Directed by Kim Longinotto
Fearless, feisty and unwavering, the ‘Rough Aunties’ protect and care for the abused, neglected and forgotten children of Durban, South Africa.

THRILLER IN MANILLA (UK)
Directed by John Dower
A tale of betrayal stoked by the racial politics of 1970s America, Thriller in Manila chronicles the most intense and bitter sporting rivalry ever: the 1975 final match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.

TIBET IN SONG (USA)
Directed by Ngawang Choephel
Through the story of Tibetan music, this film depicts the determined efforts of Tibetan people, both in Tibet and in exile, to preserve their unique cultural identity. Choephel served six years of an 18-year prison sentence for filming in Tibet.

Spectrum – Documentary:

It Might Get Loud / USA (Director: Davis Guggenheim)—The history of the electric guitar from the point of view of three legendary rock musicians. Cast: The Edge, Jimmy Page, Jack White. U.S. Premiere

No Impact Man / USA (Directors: Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein)—The documentary follows the Beavan family as they abandon their high consumption Fifth Avenue lifestyle in an attempt to make a no- net environmental impact for the course of one year. Cast: Michelle Conlin, Colin Beavan. World Premiere

Passing Strange / USA (Director: Spike Lee; Lyrics: Stew; Music: Stew and Heidi Rodewald)—A musical documentary about the international exploits of a young man from Los Angeles who leaves home to find himself and ‘the real’. A theatrical stage production of the original Tony-Award winning book by Stew. Cast: De’Adre Aziza, Daniel Breaker, Eisa Davis, Colman Domingo, Stew. World Premiere

Tyson / USA (Director: James Toback)—An intimate look at the complex life of former heavyweight
champ Mike Tyson. Cast: Mike Tyson. North American Premiere

Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy / USA (Director: Robert Townsend)—Using rare archival clips along with provocative interviews with many of today’s leading comedians and social critics, Why We Laugh celebrates the incredible cultural influence and social impact black comedy has wielded over the past 400 years. Cast: Chris Rock, Bill Cosby, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Steve Harvey, Dick Gregory. World Premiere

Wounded Knee / USA (Director: Stanley Nelson; Screenwriter: Marcia Smith)—In 1973, American Indian groups took over the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota to draw attention the 1890 massacre. Though the federal government failed to keep many of the promises that ended the siege, the event succeeded in bringing to the world’s attention the desperate conditions of Indian reservation life. World Premiere

The Yes Men Fix the World / France/ USA (Directors: Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno and Kurt Engfehr)—A pair of notorious troublemakers sneak into corporate events disguised as captains of industry, then use their momentary authority to expose the biggest criminals on the planet. Cast: Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno. World Premiere

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