Guide to All the Sundance 2014 Documentary Competition Titles, With Trailers Where Available


The 28 titles in the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Documentary Competitions were announced yesterday — 16 in the U.S. program and 12 in the World section. It looks like this is going to be a great year, with a crop filled with a few veterans and a number of interesting subjects. There are two films dealing with Internet addiction, two dealing with colonial issues, docs about filmmakers, singers and a few involving children.

And new works from the directors of Children Underground,  Babies, Born Into BrothelsWe Are Legion, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, Page One, The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, Full Battle Rattle and Darwin’s Nightmare, and from the producers of Searching for Sugar Man, Man On Wire and The House I Live In. Morgan Spurlock produced one of them, too.

I’ve found as much as I can about each of these documentaries and offer below brief introductions in the form of simple filmmaker and plot information plus images or trailers where available. This page will be updated as more comes to my attention.


U.S. Documentary Competition

Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory

Directed by Michael Rossato-Bennett
About: The power of music to unlock memories of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
Kickstarter: successfully funded Jul. 2012
Official Website
Find more clips on Rossato-Bennett’s Vimeo page and the Music & Memory YouTube channel.

All the Beautiful Things

Directed by John Harkrider
About: a friendship broken by the lies of a girlfriend

Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart

Directed by Jeremiah Zagar (Heart Stop Beating, Sundance ’12)
Executive produced by John Battsek (My Kid Could Paint That, Sundance ’07; In the Shadow of the Moon, Sundance ’07, Audience Award winner; In Prison My Whole Life, Sundance ’08; Sergio, Sundance ’09, Editing Award winner; We Live in Public, Sundance ’09, Grand Jury Prize winner; Restrepo, Sundance ’10, Grand Jury Prize winner, Oscar nominee; The Tillman Story, Sundance ’10; Project Nim, Sundance ’10, Directing Award winner; Searching for Sugar Man, Sundance ’12, Special Jury Prize and Audience Award winner, Oscar winner; The Imposter, Sundance ’12; The Summit, Sundance ’13, Editing Award winner; Manhunt, Sundance ’13)
About: Pamela Smart, who conspired with her teenage boyfriend to murder her husband, and the media’s impact on her case
Official Website


The Case Against the 8

Directed by Ben Cotner and Ryan White (Good Ol’ Freda)
Produced by HBO Documentary Films
About: behind the scenes of the battle to overturn Proposition 8

Cesar’s Last Fast

Directed by Richard Ray Perez (Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election) and Lorena Parlee, who died in 2006
About: Cesar Chavez’s 36-day “Fast for Life” to bring attention to the effects of pesticides on farm workers and their families
Kickstarter: successfully funded Nov. 2011
Official Website
Find more videos on Perez’s Vimeo page and the film’s YouTube channel

Dinosaur 13

Directed by Todd Douglas Miller
About: the 1990 discovery of the largest, most complete T. rex and subsequent 10-year battle for ownership of this find


Directed by Katy Chevigny (Deadline, Sundance ’04) and Ross Kauffman (Born Into Brothels, Sundance ’04, Oscar winner)
About: three members of Human Rights Watch’s Emergency Team


Fed Up

Directed by Stephanie Soechtig (Tapped)
Written by Mark Monroe (The Cove, Sundance ’09; The Tillman Story, Sundance ’10; Chasing Ice, Sundance ’12; The Summit, Sundance ’13, Editing Award winner; Who is Dayani Cristal?, Sundance ’13; Sound City, Sundance ’13)
Executive produced by Katie Couric and Laurie David
Narrated by Katie Couric
About: Childhood obesity and how the food industry and the U.S. government caused a health epidemic by misleading the public
Official Website

fed up clinton

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

Directed by Brian Knappenberger (We Are Legion: The Story of the Hactivists)
About: Internet pioneer and activist Aaron Schwartz, who committed suicide this year following his arrest for downloading articles from JSTOR
Kickstarter: successfully funded May 2013
See our previous coverage of the film on Film School Rejects
Official Website

Ivory Tower 

Directed by Andrew Rossi (Page One: Inside the New York Times, Sundance ’11)
Produced by CNN Films
About: the rising costs of higher education


Directed by Mark Grieco
Executive produced by Mark Achbar (director of The Corporation, Sundance ’04, Audience Award winner)
About: a gold mining town in Colombia, where a Canadian company is out to displace a community to take over operations there
Kickstarter: successfully funded Nov. 2013
Find more videos on Grieco’s Vimeo page

No No: A Dockumentary

Directed by Jeffrey Radice
About: Dock Ellis, who pitched a no-hitter in 1970 while high on LSD and later became a counselor for other drug addicts
Kickstarter: successfully funded Jul. 2012
Official Website
Find more videos on the film’s Vimeo page

The Overnighters

Directed by Jesse Moss (Full Battle Rattle)
About: men who “chase their dreams and run from their demons” in the North Dakota oil fields and a pastor who tries to help them
Official Website


Private Violence

Directed by Cynthia Hill
About: the epidemic of violence against women in America with focus on one woman who goes from victim to survivor
Official Website
Teaser trailer also available

Rich Hill

Directed by Andrew Droz Palermo (director of photography for the drama A Teacher, Sundance ’13; and the short Black Metal, Sundance ’13) and Tracy Droz Tragos (Be Good, Smile Pretty)
About: three boys living in the impoverished Midwestern town of the title
Kickstarter: successfully funded Oct. 2013
See our previous coverage of the film here on Nonfics
Official Website

Watchers of the Sky

Directed by Edet Belzberg (Children Underground, Sundance ’01, Special Jury Prize winner, Oscar nominee; The Recruiter, Sundance ’08)
About: genocide and the man who coined the word, Raphael Lemkin, as well as four humanitarians working in Darfur
Official Website



World Documentary Competition

20,000 Days on Earth

Directed by Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard (Dig, Lazarus, Dig!Do You Love Me Like I Love You)
About: Nick Cave, during a fictionalized day in his life
Official Website
Find their other Nick Cave collaborations on their Vimeo page


Concerning Violence

Directed by Göran Hugo Olsson (The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, Sundance ’11, Editing Award winner)
Co-produced by Danny Glover (The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, Sundance ’11, Editing Award winner; The House I Live In, Sundance ’12, Grand Jury Prize winner)
Narrated by Lauryn Hill
About: the African struggle for liberation from colonial rule, told through newly discovered archival footage with excerpts read from Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth providing the audio


The Green Prince

Directed by Nadav Schirman (The Champagne Spy)
Produced by John Battsek (My Kid Could Paint That, Sundance ’07; In the Shadow of the Moon, Sundance ’07, Audience Award winner; In Prison My Whole Life, Sundance ’08; Sergio, Sundance ’09, Editing Award winner; We Live in Public, Sundance ’09, Grand Jury Prize winner; Restrepo, Sundance ’10, Grand Jury Prize winner, Oscar nominee; The Tillman Story, Sundance ’10; Project Nim, Sundance ’10, Directing Award winner; Searching for Sugar Man, Sundance ’12, Special Jury Prize and Audience Award winner, Oscar winner; The Imposter, Sundance ’12; The Summit, Sundance ’13, Editing Award winner; Manhunt, Sundance ’13) and Simon Chinn (Man On Wire, Sundance ’08, Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award winner, Oscar winner; Project Nim, Sundance ’10, Directing Award winner; The Imposter, Sundance ’12)
About: Mosab Hassan Yousef, a Palestinian who was a spy for Israel’s Shin Bet, based on his bestselling memoir, Son of Hamas



Directed by Thomas Balmes (Babies)
About: an 8-year-old monk living in a Himalayan village about to get electricity for the first time and his trip to buy a TV in anticipation of this
Director Website


Love Child

Directed by Valerie Veatch (Me at the Zoo, Sundance ’12)
About: the case of a South Korean couple whose infant daughter died due to neglect while they were obsessively playing online video games
Official Website

Mr leos caraX

Directed by Tessa Louise-Salome (Drive In Holy Motors)
Produced by Chantal Perrin (A Matter of Taste) and Tessa Louise-Salome
Featuring: Denis lavant, Richard Brody, Kylie Minogue, Gilles Jacob, Caroline Champetier, Harmony Korine, Serge Toubiana, Kiyoshi Kurosawa
About: filmmaker Leos Carax
Official Website


My Prairie Home

Director Chelsea McMullan
Produced by the National Film Board of Canada
About: Canadian transgender singer Rae Spoon

The Notorious Mr. Bout

Directed by Tony Gerber (Full Battle Rattle) and Maxim Pozdorovkin (Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, Sundance ’13, Special Jury Winner)
About: Viktor Bout, Russian arms smuggler

Return to Homs

Directed by Talal Derki
About: Homs, Syria, by way of portraits of two young men, one a football goalkeeper turned performer of protest songs and the other a media activist
Official Facebook Page

Sepideh – Reaching for the Stars 

Directed by Berit Madsen
About: a young Iranian woman who dreams of becoming an astronaut

We Come as Friends

Directed by Hubert Sauper (Darwin’s Nightmare, Oscar nominee)
About: colonization “as a human phenomenon” – the second part in a trilogy about slavery/colonization/globalization (Darwin’s Nightmare is the third part)

come as friends

Web Junkie

Directed by Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia
Executive produced by Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me, Sundance ’04, Directing Award winner, Oscar nominee; Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?, Sundance ’08; The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Sundance ’11) and Jeremy Chilnick (Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?, Sundance ’08; The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Sundance ’11)
About: Chinese teenagers being treated for Internet addiction

web junkie 1



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