You’re looking at that number above and thinking we are not good at narrowing down our anticipation. You’re right, because Sundance is a festival filled with a lot of big names and even more surprises. What’s the use in compiling a short list of the films we’re most looking forward to when we’re just looking forward to anything and everything that has the potential of being the year’s best in documentary?
As far as I can compute, 59 is the number of total docs at the 2014 fest, which begins this Thursday with the nonfiction openers The Green Prince and Dinosaur 13. That includes 16 in the U.S. competition and 12 in the world competition (see our early guide to these here), 12 premieres, 1 midnight movie (concert film Under the Electric Sky), 1 classic movie from the collection (Hoop Dreams), 3 in the New Frontier section (including Sam Green’s latest live doc, The Measure of All Things, which I wrote about here) and 14 shorts.
Just to show how hard it would be to get a nice preview figure out of all these programs and selections, the premieres group alone features exciting new work from documentary notables like Joe Berlinger (Whitey: United States v. James J. Bulger), Alex Gibney (Finding Fela), Steve James (Life Itself — the Roger Ebert doc), Stanley Nelson (Freedom Summer), Rory Kennedy (Last Days in Vietnam), Amir Bar-Lev (Happy Valley — the Joe Paterno doc, pictured above) and producer John Battsek (Happy Valley and We Are the Giant).
Then in the competition slots are such prominent figures as Ross Kauffman (E-TEAM, with Katy Chevigny), Brian Knappenberger (The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz), Andrew Rossi (Ivory Tower), Goran Hugo Olsson (Concerning Violence), Hubert Sauper (We Come as Friends), Edet Belzberg (Watchers In the Sky) and producers John Battsek (The Green Prince and Captivated) and Simon Chinn (The Green Prince)
Plus very intriguing works from lesser known filmmakers, anticipated docs on subjects as appealing as Internet addiction (Web Junkie and Love Child), childhood obesity (Fed Up), Nick Cave (2,000 Days on Earth) and Dock Ellis (No No: A Dockumentary) and films that just plain look amazing based on their stills and trailers, such as The Overnighters and Rich Hill (see our poster debut here and a previous piece I wrote on it here). Probably one that I haven’t mentioned will end up my favorite.
Let’s not forget all the new shorts from some of the most important filmmakers out there, namely Lucy Walker (The Lion’s Mouth Opens) and David Redmon and Ashley Sabin (Choreography). There’s also a doc from Community star Danny Pudi (Untucked), so that’ll be interesting to check out.
Our plan for Sundance coverage is to see as many of the obvious picks (particularly the James and the Berlinger) but also to just see whatever we can and wander into with the usual hope of seeing something phenomenal. A lot of the films we’re looking forward to will eventually be seen rather easily courtesy of CNN Films (Ivory Tower, Life Itself, Whitey), Netflix (Mitt), Oscilloscope (which already picked up the two-minute short film Tim and Susan Have Matching Handguns, pictured above) and other distribution outlets. We should probably try to see some stuff that we’ll love that won’t be as easily marketable outside the fest.
Starting Friday morning we’ll be posting reviews by myself, Daniel Schindel and Daniel Walber. We’ll probably cross-post some stuff from Kate Erbland and Rob Hunter at our sister site, Film School Rejects, too. I will also be covering all the Slamdance docs this year. If there’s anything you think should be on our radar or that you want to see written about on this site, please let us know now.
We hope you enjoy our first year of reporting from Park City.