The Sundance Film Festival opens today in Park City, Utah. The 11-day festival will showcase 119 feature films and documentaries that range from a drama based on Oscar Grant’s last 24-hours to a short film that follows real life high-rise window washers in Chicago.
In conjunction with the start of the festival today, the Screening Room YouTube channel will showcase 12 short films from the 2013 Sundance Short Film program.
There are also a number of Q&A sessions and other panel discussions with directors that will be live-streamed on the Sundance website. Visit Sundance.org/live to see the week’s schedule along with an archive of past discussion.
In the meantime take a look at the 10-films below that you’ll undoubtedly hear about throughout the year.
(Film descriptions provided by Sundance.org)
“Linsanity” / (Director: Evan Leong)
Jeremy Lin came from a humble background to make an unbelievable run in the NBA. State high school champion, all-Ivy League at Harvard, undrafted by the NBA and unwanted there: his story started long before he landed on Broadway.
“FRUITVALE” / (Director: Ryan Coogler)
Oscar Grant was a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who loved his friends, was generous to strangers, and had a hard time telling the truth to the mother of his beautiful daughter. He was scared and courageous and charming and raw, and as human as the community he was part of. That community paid attention to him, shouted on his behalf, and filmed him with their cell phones when BART officers, who were strong, intimidated, and acting in the way they thought they were supposed to behave around people like Oscar, shot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year’s Day in 2009.
Director Ryan Coogler makes an extraordinary directorial debut with this soulful account of the real-life event that horrified the nation. Featuring radiant performances by Melonie Diaz and Michael B. Jordan as Grant, a young man whose eyes were an open window into his soul, Fruitvale offers a barometer reading on the state of humanity in American society today.
“PARAISO” / (Director: Nadav Kurtz)
Three immigrant window cleaners risk their lives every day rappelling down some of Chicago’s tallest sky-scrapers. Paraíso reveals the danger of their job and what they see on the way down.
“AFTER TILLER” / (Directors: Martha Shane, Lana Wilson)
Offering audiences an unprecedented perspective, After Tiller is an intimate look into each of the four physicians’ private and professional struggles. Wrenching moments in the clinics, when they gently counsel distraught patients facing grievous losses, force us to step into the shoes of both practitioner and patient and confront the full complexity of each decision. Decades after Roe v. Wade legalized abortion, the issue remains one of the most volatile in our public sphere. After Tiller sensitively and artfully extricates the controversy from the ideological realm and humanizes those who have been demonized.
“ANITA” / (Director: Freida Mock)
Anita Hill, an African-American woman, charges Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas with sexual harassment in explosive Senate hearings in 1991 - bringing sexual politics into the national consciousness and fueling 20 years of international debate on the issues.
“AMERICAN PROMISE” / (Directors: Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson)
American Promise is an epic and groundbreaking documentary charged with the hope that every child can reach his or her full potential and contribute to a better future for our country. It calls into question commonly held assumptions about educational access and what factors really influence academic performance. Stephenson and Brewster deliver a rare, intimate, and emotional portrait of black middle-class family life, humanizing the unique journey of African-American boys as they face the real-life hurdles society poses for young men of color, inside and outside the classroom.
“99% - THE OCCUPY WALLSTREET COLLABORATIVE FILM” (Directors: Audrey Ewell and Aaron Aites)
Designed in part as an experiment modeled on Occupy’s process, the film employs multiple cameras around the country to capture the kinetic, immediate experience on the ground, peppered with a comprehensive range of viewpoints from activists, experts, and detractors. In an era of hopelessness and resignation, this film is a reminder that another world order is still possible.
“NIGHT SHIFT” / (Director: Zia Mandviwalla)
Salote, an airport cleaner, starts another long night shift. She keeps her head down, does her job, and gleans the means for her survival from what others leave behind. About the director: A Zoroastrian Indian by birth, Zia Mandviwalla immigrated to New Zealand in 1996.
“GOD LOVES UGANDA” / (Director: Roger Ross Williams)
Filmmaker Roger Ross Williams exposes the missionary movement in Uganda as an outgrowth of Africa’s colonialist past and a twenty-first century crusade to recreate a continent of people in the image and likeness of America’s most extreme fundamentalists. Williams captures vérité footage so shocking that viewers may be squirming in their seats. Masterfully crafted and astonishingly provocative, God Loves Uganda may be the most terrifying film of the year.
“MOTHER OF GEORGE” / (Director: Andrew Dosunmu)
Director Andrew Dosunmu returns to the Sundance Film Festival (his film, Restless City, screened in 2011) with this astonishingly radiant portrait of Nigerian immigrant family life. Featuring soulful performances by Isaach De Bankolé and Danai Gurira, and opulent cinematography by the award-winning Bradford Young, Mother of George is a singular cinematic accomplishment that elevates this illustration of the complicated challenges of African immigrant life to a place of beauty and reverence.