Sundance ’08 – Day 6, Tues., 1/22/08

Sundance: Day 6, Tuesday, 1/22/08

Dispatch direct from Sundance
By Cathleen Rountree, critic and film journalist

Yesterday I happened to be working in the Festival pressroom when the news of Heath Ledger’s death broke. Industry insiders felt shock and deep sadness at the loss of this talented and much-too-young-to-die 28-year-old. A tragic waste of life.

Yesterday I interviewed two doc directors: Irena Salina, “Flow: For Love of Water,” and Stephen Walker, “Young @ Heart.”

The most compelling and politically/socially/environmentally important documentaries I’ve seen thus far include the following:(For fuller descriptions of the first 5 titles, see earlier post: “Sundance: Opening Day, Thursday, 1/17/08):

“Flow: For Love of Water” (U.S.), director, Irena Salina.

“Fields of Fuel” (U.S.), director, Josh Tickell.

“I.O.U.S.A.” (U.S.), director, Patrick Creadon.

“The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo” (U.S.), director Lisa F. Jackson.

“An American Soldier” (U.S.), directed and written by Edet Belzberg.

“Secrecy” (U.S.), co-directors, Peter Galison and Robb Moss. Looks at the staggering production of government classified secret documents that involves millions of people and billions of dollars.

“Up The Yangtze” (Canada), director Yung Chang. In this riveting and gorgeous doc, Chang spent 5 years chronicling the life transitions of families who live near the Three Gorges Dam and must find a way to adjust to the rising waters in a dramatically changing China.

“Singshot Hip Hop” (U.S.), director, Jackie Reem Salloum. Palestinian rappers present alternative voices of resistance within the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. Very hot.“Trouble the Water” (U.S.), co-directors, Tia Lessin and Carl Deal. Lessin, an aspiring rap artist, and her streetwise husband who, filmed their experience of being trapped in New Orleans by deadly floodwaters, and seize their chance for a new beginning.

“The Women Of Brukman” (Les Femmes De La Brukman) (Canada), co-directors Isaac Isitan and Carole Poliquin. After the Argentinean economic meltdown between 2001 and 2003, with 60 percent of the population living in poverty and unemployment, after factory owners walked away from their businesses, workers took over a Buenos Aires men’s clothing factory and managed to keep it in operation, providing employment.

“Alone In Four Walls” (“Allein In Vier Wanden”) (Germany),
director, Alexandra Westmeier. A heartbreaking account of teenage boys struggling to grow up in a home for delinquents in rural Russia where their home lives present even greater hardships.

“Be Like Others” (Canada, UK, USA, Iran), director, Tanaz Eshaghian. Forget what Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at Columbia last year. This doc explores the unexpected subculture of young Iranian men who choose to undergo sex change surgery. “Dinner With The President” (Pakistan), co-directors, Sabiha Sumar and Sachithanandam Sathananthan. Examines the current cultural climate in Pakistan by interviewing people-on-the-street, religious leaders “In Prison My Whole Life” (UK), director, Marc Evans. Interviews with Noam Chomsky, Alice Walker, Mos Def, Angela Davis, Snoop Dogg and others uncover the story behind award-winning journalist Mumia Abu Jamal’s death row sentence, and comes to startling realizations about American history and America’s justice system. “Triage: Dr. James Orbinski’s Humanitarian Dilemma” (Canada), director Patrick Reed. James Orbinski, former head of Doctors Without Borders, returns to Africa where he is forced to examine the meaning of humanitarianism.

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