The Sundance Film Festival has long championed documentaries and the 2011 edition, which starts tomorrow, features more than 40 new docs, including 28 in competition and a new Documentary Premieres section. This week’s curation of Hulu’s Documentaries page by indieWIRE wraps up our two-part look back at some notable doc alums from past Sundances.
EDITOR’S NOTE: “indieWIRE @ Hulu Docs” is a regular column and collaboration spotlighting the iW-curated selections on Hulu’s Documentaries page. iW selections appear in the carousel at the top of the page and under “Featured Content” in the center. Be sure to check out the great nonfiction projects available to watch free of charge.
Rob Fruchtman and Rebecca Cammisa won the Documentary Directing Award at the 2002 festival for “Sister Helen,”, whose titular figure, a former alcoholic turned nun, runs a halfway home in the South Bronx for recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. She’s an indelible, larger-than-life figure symbolizing second chances.
Screening at the 2008 festival, “Kicking It,” by director Susan Koch (with co-director Jeff Werner), is a soccer film with a difference – it follows men from around the globe as they head to Cape Town, South Africa to compete in the Homeless World Cup. Smartly using the global appeal of the game to address the pandemic of homelessness, the film puts faces on men who are normally made invisible by poverty and addiction.
Winning the US Documentary Grand Jury Prize for the second time in 2009 with “We Live In Public,” Ondi Timoner tells the story of dotcom visionary Josh Harris. Documenting his life for over a decade, Timoner crafts a fascinating look into a man ahead of his time, who predicted how individuals would largely trade their privacy for internet connectedness — and who made (and lost) fortunes along the way.
The director of “Born Rich,” Johnson & Johnson heir Jamie Johnson, knows a bit about fortunes, and decided to turn his camera on others in his elite position. His film, which debuted at the 2003 festival, profiles the heirs and heiresses of other wealthy families with names like Trump, Bloomberg, Newhouse and Vanderbilt.
David Peteren’s “Let the Church Say Amen” premiered at Sundance in 2004. This deeply moving doc puts the spotlight on World Missions for Christ Church, a Washington, DC house of worship whose parishioners are largely poor African-Americans. The film explores the impact that their belief in God and their participation in the church community has on their lives.
Finally, 2011 Sundance filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson previously brought her hybrid doc, “Strange Culture” to the 2007 festival. This is the story of Steve Kurtz, an artist and college professor who was held as a suspected terrorist due to an exhibition he prepared on genetically modified food. Due to legal issues, Kurtz could not speak on camera about the case, so Leeson used dramatic reenactments with Peter Coyote, Josh Kornbluth and Tilda Swinton, among other techniques, to tell his story about post-9/11 politics and paranoia.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Basil Tsiokos is a Programming Associate, Documentary Features for Sundance, consults with documentary filmmakers and festivals, and recently co-produced Cameron Yates’ feature documentary “The Canal Street Madam.” Follow him on Twitter (@1basil1 and @CanalStMadamDoc) and visit his blog (what (not) to doc).