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Canada and Denmark: Sundance’s Dominant Documentary Duo

Canada and Denmark: Sundance's Dominant Documentary Duo

There’s a shitload to chew on in the first of three announcements that share the 2012 Sundance Film Festival lineup. But here’s one in particular: The World Doc Competition, which has 12 films in all, is comprised of a whopping 7 films from two countries: Denmark and Canada. 

With reputations as countries with some of the best government film funding in the world, the two countries have a combined population of like 37 million people, or like 0.5% of the world’s population. Yet, according to the programmers at the Sundance Film Festival (who are generally pretty spot on) they made up for 58% of best documentary submissions from around the world. Pretty impressive (especially for Denmark, which had 4 of the 7 and has a population of only 5 million).

Taking on a wide range of topics (most of which have nothing to do with themselves specifically), Canmark’s big 7 (listed below) include docs on Egypt, Central Africa, Central China, Russia, US rock icons, personal debt and video game developers. We’ll find out in January if their any good (though most of Denmark’s films screened at IDFA to raves) but something tells me if Sundance was willing to give this program such a Denadian monopoly, there was good reason for it. So here’s to a big day for Denmark and Canada, which also just so happen to be my favourite countries in the world:

½ REVOLUTION / Denmark (Directors: Omar Shargawi, Karim El Hakim) — In January 2011, two filmmakers captured the reality of the Egyptian revolution as it occurred out of view from the world’s media in the alleyways and streets away from the square – and in the process were arrested by the secret police. North American Premiere

THE AMBASSADOR / Denmark (Director: Mads Brügger) — What happens when a very white European man buys his way into being a diplomat in one of Central Africa’s most failed nations? Welcome to the bizarre and hidden world of African diplomacy, where gin and tonics flow and diamond hustlers and corrupt politicians run free. North American Premiere

China Heavyweight / Canada, China (Director: Yung Chang) — In central China, where a coach recruits poor rural teenagers and turns them into Western-style boxing champions, the top students face dramatic choices as they graduate – should they fight for the collective good or for themselves? A metaphor for the choices everyone in the New China faces now. World Premiere

Indie Game: The Movie / Canada (Directors: Lisanne Pajot, James Swirsky) — Follow the dramatic journeys of indie game developers as they create games and release those works, and themselves, to the world. World Premiere

Payback / Canada (Director: Jennifer Baichwal) — Based on Margaret Atwood’s best-selling book, Payback explores how debt is a central organizing principle in our lives – influencing relationships, societies, governing structures and the very fate of this planet. World Premiere

Putin’s Kiss / Denmark (Director: Lise Birk Pedersen) — 19-year-old Marsha is a model spokesperson in a strongly nationalistic Russian youth movement that aims to protect the country from its enemies. When she starts recognizing the organization’s flaws, she must take a stand for or against it. North American Premiere

Searching for Sugar Man / Denmark, United Kingdom (Director: Malik Bendjelloul) — Rodriguez was the greatest ‘70s US rock icon who never was. Hailed as the greatest recording artist of his generation he disappeared into oblivion – rising again from the ashes in a completely different context many miles away. World Premiere

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