By Austin Dale | Indiewire March 13, 2012 at 2:1PM
Highlights include several high-profile Sundance award-winners, including "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry," "Chasing Ice," "DETROPIA," "The Invisible War" and "The House I Live In."
Full lineup of documentaries reprinted below:
2012 NEW DOCS * Indicates short film, 40 minutes or under in length
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (Director: Alison Klayman)
This portrait of the intrepid artist and his work is also a reflection on modern-day China and the struggle for freedom of expression.
An Angel in Doel (De Engel van Doel) (Director: Tom Fassaert)
In this mesmerizing black-and-white elegy to the Belgian village of Doel, Emilienne, an older resident, is caught between past and future. US Premiere
Aranda (Director: Anu Kuivalainen)
Existential explorers aboard a marine research vessel contemplate iceburgs, ocean currents, and life itself. North American Premiere
Beauty Is Embarrassing (Director: Neil Berkeley)
Paul Reubens, Todd Oldham, Mark Mothersbaugh, Matt Groening, and Mimi Pond love this LBJ puppet suit–wearing, profanity-spewing, banjo-picking artist and iconoclast—you will too!
CatCam * (Director: Seth Keal)
Ever wonder what your pet does all day? This romp with Mr. Lee satisfies an itch most animal owners never dreamed they’d get to scratch.
Chasing Ice (Director: Jeff Orlowski)
Scientific fact and aesthetic beauty merge in monumental and dramatic time-lapse photos illustrating global warming’s chilling ravages.
Children of the Sea (Les enfants de la mer/mère) * (Director: Annabel Verbeke)
Students at Belgium’s Ibis school are urchins in uniform, reflecting the maritime tradition of this institution for troubled boys.
Cutting Loose * (Directors: Finlay Pretsell, Adrian McDowall)
Francis Duffy, three-time champ of the Scottish Prison Service hairdressing competition, defends his title just days before his release.
The D Train * (Director: Jay Rosenblatt)
To the accompaniment of a jaunty Shostakovich waltz, black-and-white found footage tells a life story, at once singular and universal.
DETROPIA (Directors: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady)
An affecting and surprising portrait of Detroit, heart of the American Dream, and the unprecedented challenges facing its citizens.
Eating Alabama (Director: Andrew Beck Grace)
Attempts to eat locally in Alabama yield surprising, often funny results, for one couple on a quest for a simpler life.
ESCAPE FIRE: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare (Directors: Matthew Heineman, Susan Froemke)
American healthcare has evolved into a profit-driven disease-care system—this film closely examines the medical industry and bold new measures that may help ease what ails us.
Ethel (Director: Rory Kennedy)
Ethel Kennedy’s life, told in intimate interviews and never-before-seen archival footage, reveals her place, both public and private, in the Kennedy legacy.
Fanuzzi's Gold * (Director: Georgia Gruzen)
Ed Fanuzzi is a Staten Island inventor, treasure hunter, and eternal optimist—he sees gold where others see trash. World Premiere
Five Star Existence (Director: Sonja Lindén)
A stimulating and exquisitely filmed exploration of technology’s ever-increasing affect on our lives—its benefits, and its limitations. North American Premiere
A Girl Like Her (Director: Ann Fessler)
“Nice” girls didn’t get pregnant in the 50s and 60s. They had their babies far away from prying eyes and were then forced to give them up. World Premiere
Girl Model (Directors: David Redmon, A. Sabin)
Hunting for beauty and the fulfillment of dreams, two women bookend this story of hope, ambition and exploitation.
Grandmothers (Abuelas) * (Director: Afarin Eghbal)
This animated documentary about Argentina’s Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo features stories of women who search for their missing grandchildren.
Herman's House (Director: Angad Singh Bhalla)
An artist forms a relationship with a man who’s been in solitary confinement for over three decades, embarking on a project to design and construct his dream home. World Premiere
The House I Live In (Director: Eugene Jarecki)
The impact of narcotics on one family’s lives gives way to this comprehensive, multilayered interpretation of America’s War on Drugs.
How to Survive a Plague (Director: David France)
Astounding archival footage chronicles the courageous, and innovative, battle waged by early AIDS activists against drug companies and the government as they fight the epidemic.
I Send You This Place (Directors: Andrea Sisson, Peter Ohs)
A personal and experimental essay that transports the viewer to and from Iceland in search of clues to a family mystery. World Premiere
The Imposter (Director: Bart Layton)
A Texas boy who mysteriously disappeared resurfaces years later in Spain. There’s a remarkable reunion, but something’s not quite right.
The Invisible War (Director: Kirby Dick)
A shocking percentage of servicewomen and men are sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers. This film bears witness to their powerful and emotional stories.
ITALY LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT (Directors: Gustav Hofer, Luca Ragazzi)
A couple sets out on a road trip through Italy, to decide whether or not they should stay in the country, or leave it, like so many of their other friends have done already.
Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet (Director: Jesse Vile)
Twenty years after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, the metal guitar god has not only survived, he continues to compose music.
Justice for Sale (Directors: Ilse van Velzen, Femke van Velzen)
Attorney Claudine Tsongo winds her way through the Congo’s evolving justice system in search of truth in the case of a soldier who may have been unjustly convicted of rape. North American Premiere
The Kingdom of Mister Edhi (Director: Amélie Saillez)
Mr. Edhi’s kingdom is a sprawling network of support systems for Pakistan’s most vulnerable, especially at-risk women and children. North American Premiere
Kiss the Paper * (Director: Fiona Otway)
No amount of technology has been able to curb one man’s passion for hand-set type and the poetry of letterpress printing.
The Law in These Parts (Shilton Ha'Chok) (Director: Ra’anan Alexandrowicz)
A meticulously constructed exploration of the complex military laws imposed by Israel on citizens in the occupied territories.
A Letter to Dad (Pismo ocu) (Director: Srdjan Keca)
When his father dies unexpectedly in a Serbian hospital, a son interviews close friends and family to piece together his own unfocused recollections. North American Premiere
The Lifeguard (El Salvavidas) * (Director: Maite Alberdo)
A Chilean beach is the setting for this vividly filmed collection of interactions with Mauricio, the complicated titular subject. North American Premiere
Light Plate * (Director: Josh Gibson)
Hand processed film presents an evocative, whimsical and contemplative document of an Italian interlude.
Mr. Cao Goes to Washington (Director: S. Leo Chiang)
Rookie congressman Joseph Cao of Louisiana angers fellow Republicans by befriending President Obama; will bipartisanship reward or ruin his chances for re-election?
Nation (Nació) (Director: Homer Etminani)
A young man in Catalonia tirelessly trains amidst a sprawling landscape in this meditation on extensive preparation toward a mysterious end. North American Premiere
Needle Exchange * (Director: Colm Quinn)
Spencer and Glenn are best mates and recovering addicts who have traded heroin for copious amounts of tattoo ink, and each other.
Peak (Director: Hannes Lang)
The Alps are the backdrop for this wry take on climate change and the idiosyncratic responses to its affects on natives and tourists alike. North American Premiere
A People Uncounted (Director: Aaron Yeger)
This film bears witness to the Porrajmos or “devouring” of the Roma by the Nazis during WWII and their ongoing struggles.
The Photographer's Wife (Die Frau des Fotografen) * (Directors: Karsten Krause, Philip Widmann)
A widow revisits four decades of photos her husband took of her—nude portraits taken at home, in cars, and in the great outdoors. North American Premiere
Radio Unnameable (Directors: Paul Lovelace, Jessica Wolfson)
Bob Fass has been broadcasting his midnight free-form show from New York City for nearly 50 years to reflect the decades’ alternative cultural scenes. World Premiere
Raising Resistance (Directors: Bettina Borgfeld, David Bernet)
For some in Paraguay transgenic soy is “green gold,” but for others it is an unprecedented ecological and cultural disaster. North American Premiere
Reportero (Director: Bernardo Ruiz)
A veteran journalist and his fearless colleagues at the Mexican newspaper Zeta investigate corrupt officials and drug lords despite increasing violence and repeated death threats. US Premiere
Santa Land * (Director: Kim Nguyen)
Meet a husband and wife Mr. and Mrs. Claus team and the Real Bearded Santas—men so committed to portraying Santa they maintain their lustrous whiskers year-round. North American Premiere
Silent Springs * (Director: Erin Espelie)
Taking a cue from Rachel Carson, this experimental film attempts to make visible what’s hard to see, the disappearance of species and a natural world under mortal threat.
Sivan * (Director: Zohar Elefant)
A minimalist portrait of an Israeli soccer fan in thrall to a team and an obsession.
Special Flight (Vol Spécial) (Director: Fernand Melgar)
Tensions build at a Swiss detention center as rejected asylum seekers await their forced removal from the country they now call home. US Premiere
Tahrir: Liberation Square (Director: Stefano Savona)
An intense and deft account of the first weeks of protest in Cairo’s Tahrir Square at the beginning of the Egyptian Arab Spring.
The Time We Have (Den tid vi har) * (Director: Mira Jargil)
A beautiful, intimate, and deeply tender look at saying goodbye to the love of your life after 67 years of marriage. US Premiere
Trash Dance (Director: Andrew Garrison)
An unusual partnership between a dancer and the Austin Solid Waste Services to stage a public performance starring man, music, and machine.
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom * (Director: Lucy Walker)
Survivors of Japan’s recent tsunami find courage and solace in the cherry blossoms that emerge not long after the disaster.
Unfinished Spaces (Directors: Alysa Nahmias, Benjamin Murray)
A thrilling and unknown story of the visionary architecture of the early Cuban revolution—its creation, decay, renewal, and rediscovery.
Violated Letters (Cudze Listy) (Director: Maciej Drygas)
The Polish Secret Service monitored private correspondence during the Cold War. Brilliantly edited footage sets the stage for this story of repression, censorship, letters never delivered. North American Premiere
The Waiting Room (Director: Peter Nicks)
This gripping vérité film is a symphony of patients, caregivers, and loved ones, bureaucracy and hard choices, in an Oakland ER’s waiting room. World Premiere
While You Were Gone (Medan du var borta) * (Director: Frida Kempff)
Absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder. It can sometimes make it cold, violent, or even forgiving.
Winter Light (Vinterlys) * (Director: Skule Eriksen)
In the Arctic archipelago of Lofoten in Norway, winter sun makes for a subtle yet spectacular landscape.
Without A Fight (Director: Jason Arthurs) North American Premiere
Far more than a mere sport, soccer equals survival and a sensible haven for the young men of Kibera, Kenya's largest slum. North American Premiere
Young Bird Season * (Director: Nellie Kluz)
The flyers at the Braintree Pigeon Racing Club pass the time as their treasured birds race the hundreds of miles back home.