A big-screen take on an acclaimed stage play, a documentary, and a film from Mexico…it looks like there will be some compelling alternate choices at the Sundance Film Festival this year if you’re shut out of the big-ticket screenings, and with a handful of trailers dropping, let’s take a quick dive into them.
First up is “Charlie Victor Romeo,” an intriguing picture from Robert Berger and Karlyn Michelson. A 3D (yes, 3D) adaptation of a theater production, the film puts you right in the cockpit, with the script drawing its material from the real black-box transcripts of six airline emergencies. Patrick Daniels, Irving Gregory, Noel Dinneen, Sam Zuckerman, Debbie Troche and Nora Woolley star. Here’s the synopsis: When you board an airplane, who are those people in uniform to whom you entrust your life? What do they really do when things go horribly wrong? Derived entirely from the “black box” transcripts of six major airline emergencies, Charlie Victor Romeo puts the audience inside the tension-filled cockpits of actual flights in distress, offering a fascinating portrait of the psychology of crisis and a person’s will to live to the last second.
Next up is “Gideon’s Army.” The documentary from Dawn Porter centers on three lawyers who are part of the 15,000 public defenders that serve the overtaxed justice system in America. Here’s the synopsis: In 1963, the landmark Supreme Court decision Gideon v. Wainwright guaranteed all defendants facing imprisonment the right to a lawyer. Now, every year millions of Americans facing trial rely on fewer than 15,000 public defenders, and the country’s justice system hangs in the balance. Gideon’s Army confronts this crisis head-on, tracking a group of young southern public defenders hell-bent on protecting the sanctity of human liberty.
Lastly, is “Halley” from filmmaker Sebastian Hofmann. Starring Alberto Trujillo, Lourdes Trueba and Hugo Albores, the film tells the story of a security guard afflicted with a strange illness that is ravaging his body. Here’s the synopsis: Beto, a security guard in a Mexico City gym, quietly observes the healthy bodies of the muscle-bound patrons, which contrast sharply with his own physical deterioration. Afflicted with a strange illness, the scared and ashamed Beto surrenders to his condition and holes up in his apartment, injecting himself with embalming fluid to stem his increasing decay. Beto’s melancholy grows as he realizes—in the words of an affable morgue attendant—that “the diseased become the disease.” Through the friendly advances of the gym’s female owner, Beto dances with the illusory promise of feeling alive again.