In the US Documentary Competition, three of the sixteen selected features have SocDoc Alumni and Faculty on crew:
Director/producer BAO NGUYEN (Class of 2011) will premiere his latest feature, BE WATER (pictured). Set in 1971, after being rejected by Hollywood and before his superstardom, Bruce Lee returned to his parents’ homeland of Hong Kong to complete four iconic films. Charting his struggles between two worlds, this portrait explores questions of identity and representation through the use of rare archival interviews with loved ones and Bruce’s own writings. Also collaborating on this film is cinematographer CALEB HELLER and sound recordist BEN NIMKIN (both from the Class of 2011).
Acclaimed director Kim A. Snyder’s US KIDS will have its world premiere; working on this team was cinematographer JENNI MORELLO (Class of 2011) and assistant editor CAROLINE BERLER (Class of 2017), as well as producer LORI CHEATLE (Faculty). After a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School claims 17 lives, a number of students rallied and determined to turn unfathomable tragedy into action. The teenage survivors of Parkland, Florida catalyze a powerful, unprecedented youth movement that spreads with lightning speed across the country, as a generation of mobilized youth takes back democracy in this powerful coming-of-age story.
And, VICTOR ILYUKHIN (Class of 2014) is associate editor for WELCOME TO CHECHNYA (director David France). This searing investigative work shadows a group of activists risking unimaginable peril to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ pogrom raging in the repressive and closed Russian republic. Unfettered access (while at the same time protecting anonymity) exposes this under-reported atrocity–and an extraordinary group of people confronting evil.
Sundance will also premier the following films in which our Alumni played an essential role:
- VIVOS by director Ai Weiwei and with DANIELE ALATORRE (Class of 2015) as associate producer. On a late-September day in 2014, students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College were brutally attacked by police forces and other masked assailants as they were travelling through the town of Iguala, Guerrero. Six people were killed and 43 students were abducted and never heard from again. VIVOS is a lyrical and unique approach to the tragedy that beautifully humanizes each and every victim as an individual and affirms they are forever vivos (alive) in the continuing present.
- THE TRADE directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Matthew Heineman and with associate editor ANDRES ARIAS (Class of 2013). The focus here is on human trafficking and migrant communities seeking a safer existence. We follow migrants from Central America on their journey to the United States (and back home after deportation), the people who get paid outrageous amounts of money to attempt to smuggle them across the border, and those who try to obstruct these illicit and often deadly activities-- exposing some very bleak aspects of the American Dream and the fate of people who have no choice but to chase it.
- Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard will premiere his REBUILDING PARADISE, which includes the work of cinematographer JENNI MORELLO (Class of 2011). With unfathomable, harrowing footage, the film puts the viewer into the driver’s seat to experience the terror and the helplessness of devastated refugees from a town with the ironic name of Paradise. Eighty-five lives are lost in what ultimately becomes the most destructive wildfire in California’s history.
- AGGIE also includes the work of cinematographer JENNI MORELLO (Class of 2011). The film, directed by Catherine Gund, is an exploration of the nexus of art, race and justice through the story of art collector Agnes Gund who sold Roy Lichtenstein's painting "Masterpiece" in 2017 for $165 million to start the Art for Justice Fund to end mass incarceration.