sundance

Sundance 2012 U.S. Documentary slate targets AIDS, Lithuanian basketball and the War on Drugs

Eugene Jarecki, Kirby Dick, Lauren Greenfield lead returning doc favorites

<p>&quot;The Queen of Versailles,&quot; one of the Day One films at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival</p>
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"The Queen of Versailles," one of the Day One films at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival

Credit: Sundance
The Sundance Film Festival announced its 2012 slate of Dramatic and Documentary competition features, with the non-fiction fields including 16 American documentary films and 12 World Cinema docs.
 
In the U.S. Documentary Competition, Festival attendees will be able to check out the latest features from Sundance favorites like Eugene Jarecki ("Why We Fight"), who returns with the War on Drugs-centered "The House I Live In," and Kirby Dick ("Sick"), whose "The Invisible War" tackles the epidemic of rape in the military.
 
Other U.S. doc subjects include artist Marina Abramovic, Chinese activist Ai Weiwei, the American health care system, the American hunger crisis, the state of nuclear energy, the collapse of Detroit and climate change.
 
That sounds very serious, right?
 
For those needing a break from Big Issues, The Festival will also include "The Other Dream Team," focusing on the 1992 Lithuanian basketball team and directed by "Like Crazy" co-producer Marius Markevicius, as well as "Me at the Zoo," focusing on "Leave Britney Alone" guy Chris Crocker.
 
The Day One film on the US Documentary Competition side will be "The Queen of Versailles" from Lauren Greenfield, whose "Thin" played at Sundance in 2006. Greenfield also brought the documentary short "kids + money" to Sundance in 2008.
 
The Sundance Film Festival will take place January 19 through 29 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. 
 
As always, HitFix will be providing exhaustive coverage.
 
 
U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
 
The world premieres of 16 American documentary films.
 
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry / U.S.A., China 
Director: Alison Klayman
Renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has garnered international attention as much for his ambitious artwork as his political provocations and increasingly public clashes with the Chinese government.
 
The Atomic States of America / U.S.A.
Directors: Don Argott, Sheena M. Joyce
In 2010, the United States announced construction of the first new nuclear power plant in more than 32 years. A year later, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck the Fukushima Power Plant in Japan sparking a fierce debate in the U.S. over the safety and viability of nuclear power.
 
Chasing Ice / U.S.A.
Director: Jeff Orlowski
Science, spectacle and human passion mix in this stunningly cinematic portrait as National Geographic photographer James Balog captures time-lapse photography of glaciers over several years providing tangible visual evidence of climate change.
 
DETROPIA / U.S.A. 
Directors: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady
The woes of Detroit are emblematic of the collapse of the U.S. manufacturing base. This is the dramatic story of a city and its people who refuse to leave the building, even as the flames are rising.
 
ESCAPE FIRE: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare / U.S.A. 
Directors: Matthew Heineman, Susan Froemke
What can be done to save our broken medical system? Powerful forces are trying to maintain the status quo in a profit-driven medical industry, but a movement to bring innovative methods of prevention and healing is finally gaining ground – potentially saving the health of a nation.
 
Finding North / U.S.A.
Directors: Lori Silverbush, Kristi Jacobson
A crisis of hunger looms in America and is not limited to the poverty stricken and uneducated. Can a return to policies of the 1970s save our future?
 
The House I Live In / U.S.A.
Director: Eugene Jarecki
For over 40 years, the War on Drugs has accounted for 45 million arrests, made America the world's largest jailer and damaged poor communities at home and abroad. Yet, drugs are cheaper, purer and more available today than ever. Where did we go wrong and what is the path toward healing?
 
How to Survive a Plague / U.S.A.
Director: David France
The untold story of the intensive efforts that turned AIDS into a manageable condition – and the improbable group of (mostly HIV-positive) young men and women whose amazing resilience broke through a time of rampant death and political indifference.
 
The Invisible War / U.S.A.
Director: Kirby Dick
An investigative and powerfully emotional examination of the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the U.S. military, the institutions that cover up its existence and the profound personal and social consequences that arise from it.
 
Marina Abramovic The Artist is Present / U.S.A.
Director: Matthew Akers
Marina Abramovic prepares for a major retrospective of her work at The Museum of Modern Art in New York hoping to finally silence four decades of skeptics who proclaim: 'But why is this art?'
 
ME at the ZOO / U.S.A.
Directors: Chris Moukarbel, Valerie Veatch
 With 270 million hits to date, Chris Crocker, an uncanny young video blogger from small town Tennessee, is considered the Internet's first rebel folk hero and at the same time one of its most controversial personalities.
 
The Other Dream Team / Lithuania, U.S.A.
Director: Marius Markevicius
The 1992 Lithuanian National Basketball Team went from the clutches of Communism to the Summer Olympics in Barcelona – a testament to the powerful role of sports as a catalyst for cultural identity.
 
The Queen of Versailles / U.S.A. 
Director: Lauren Greenfield
Jackie and David were triumphantly constructing the biggest house in America – a sprawling, 90,000-square-foot palace inspired by Versailles – when their timeshare empire falters due to the economic crisis. Their rags-to-riches-to-rags story reveals the innate virtues and flaws of the American Dream. DAY ONE FILM
 
Slavery By Another Name / U.S.A. 
Director: Sam Pollard 
As slavery came to an end with Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, a new system of involuntary servitude took its place with shocking force, brutalizing, terrorizing and ultimately circumscribing the lives of hundreds of thousands of African Americans well into the 20th century.
 
Love Free or Die: How the Bishop of New Hampshire is Changing the World / U.S.A. 
Director: Macky Alston
One man whose two defining passions are in conflict: An openly gay bishop refuses to leave the Church or the man he loves.
 
We're Not Broke / U.S.A.
Directors: Karin Hayes, Victoria Bruce 
As American lawmakers slash budgets and lay off employees, leaving many people scrambling to survive, multibillion-dollar corporations are concealing colossal profits overseas to avoid paying U.S. income tax. Fed-up Americans are taking their frustration to the streets.
 
 

 

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Daniel Fienberg
Executive Editor
A long-time member of the TCA Board and a longer-time blogger of "American Idol," Dan Fienberg writes about TV, except for when he writes about movies or sometimes writes about the Red Sox. But never music. He would sound stupid talking about music.
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