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Added by EmmaBell

on 23 Jan 2013 11:14

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Sundance Film Festival 2013

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U.S. Dramatic

Presenting the world premieres of 16 narrative feature films, the Dramatic Competition offers a first look at groundbreaking new voices in American independent film.
People who added this item 63  Average listal rating (22 ratings) 5.3  IMDB Rating 5.8 
1. Afternoon Delight (2013)
*WINNER* Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic
U.S.A., U.S. Dramatic

Rachel is a quick-witted and lovable, yet tightly coiled, thirtysomething steeped in the creative class of Los Angeles’s bohemian, affluent Silver Lake neighborhood. Everything looks just right—chic modernist home, successful husband, adorable child, and a hipster wardrobe. So why is she going out of her gourd with ennui? Plagued by purposelessness, Rachel visits a strip club to spice up her marriage and ends up meeting McKenna, a stripper whom she becomes obsessed with saving. She decides to adopt McKenna as her live-in nanny, and this bold move unleashes unimagined and colorful waves of change into her life and community. It becomes clear that Rachel is feverishly, desperately trying to save her own sense of who she is.

In a perfect storm of hilarious writing, performance, and direction, first-timer Jill Soloway pinpoints the ambivalence of privileged, educated women seduced by an idealized vision of marriage and motherhood, yet deadened by the stultifying realities of preschool auctions, lackluster sex lives, and careers that have gone kaput. Afternoon Delight compassionately revels in the existential trials of a Peter Pan generation battling too many choices, resisting adulthood, and distractedly tapping their iPhones instead of tuning in to what matters.

People who added this item 104  Average listal rating (58 ratings) 6.4  IMDB Rating 6.5 
2. Ain't Them Bodies Saints (2013)
*WINNER* Cinematography Award: U.S. Dramatic
U.S.A., U.S. Dramatic

Bob Muldoon and Ruth Guthrie, an impassioned young outlaw couple on an extended crime spree, are finally apprehended by lawmen after a shootout in the Texas hills. Although Ruth wounds a local officer, Bob takes the blame. But four years later, Bob escapes from prison and sets out to find Ruth and their daughter, born during his incarceration.

The barren landscapes of David Lowery’s poetic feature evoke the mythology of westerns and saturate the dramatic space with fatalism and an aching sense of loss. Aided by powerfully restrained performances by Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, and Ben Foster, Lowery incorporates an unnerving tension into the film, teetering it at the edge of violence.

The beautiful, irreconcilable dilemma of the story is that Ruth—compelled by the responsibilities of motherhood and her evolving relationship with the deputy she shot—remains haunted by her intense feelings for Bob. Each of them longs for some form of peace. Ironically, it’s Bob, the unrepentant criminal trapped in the romantic image of a bygone past, who is driven by an almost righteous sense of clarity. Following in the footsteps of Badlands and Bonnie and Clyde, Lowery’s humanism transcends the genre.

People who added this item 84  Average listal rating (43 ratings) 6.1  IMDB Rating 6.3 
3. Austenland (2013)
U.S.A./United Kingdom, U.S. Dramatic

Jane’s life-size paper doll of Mr. Darcy and her “I Love Darcy” tote may be tattered, but even in her thirties, she hasn’t grown out of her obsession with all things Jane Austen. Careworn by love, she saves enough to fulfill her dream of stepping into Austen’s world and heads to Austenland for an “immersive” vacation to eschew all things modern. And it couldn’t be more perfect. There’s an imposing manor with verdant grounds for afternoon promenades, rosy-faced servants, trusty steeds for hunting expeditions, gilded drawing rooms for evenings spent in polite conversation, and, yes, gallant young suitors. Unfortunately, due to limited funds, she’s relegated to lesser quarters and drearier costumes than fellow bachelorette guests, but her cares melt away as she catches the eye of a young footman, and she’s swept into a romantic adventure she could never have imagined.

Will fantasy and reality merge for Jane? A wickedly funny, irreverent comedy, featuring a malapropism-peppered performance by Jennifer Coolidge and an impeccable cast of archetypal characters, Austenland hits all the right notes of the Regency era and our curious infatuation with it.

People who added this item 35  Average listal rating (13 ratings) 5.8  IMDB Rating 5.6 
4. C.O.G. (2013)
U.S.A., U.S. Dramatic

David has it all figured out. His plan—more a Steinbeckian dream—is to spend his summer working on an apple farm in Oregon with his best friend, Jennifer. When she bails out on him, David is left to dirty his hands alone, watched over by Hobbs, the old farm owner and the first in a series of questionable mentors he encounters. First there’s Curly, the friendly forklift operator with a unique hobby, and then Jon, the born-again rock hound who helps David in a time of need. This first film adaptation of David Sedaris’s work tells the story of a prideful young man and what’s left of him after all he believes is chipped away piece by piece.

With such beloved source material come great advantages and immense pressure. Writer/director Kyle Patrick Alvarez proves more than up to the challenge as he delivers a finely wrought story that remains true to both the author’s voice and his own. Jonathan Groff perfectly embodies David and imbues him with abundant wit that masks the uncertainty that he hides. C.O.G. is a funny and poignant portrait of a lost soul searching for himself among the amusing characters in life’s rich pageant.

People who added this item 40  Average listal rating (14 ratings) 5.4  IMDB Rating 5.8 
5. Concussion (2013)
U.S.A., U.S. Dramatic

Abby is a fortysomething, wealthy, married, lesbian housewife who—after getting smacked in the head by her son’s baseball—walks around every corner of her suburban life to confront a mounting desire for something else. She takes on a new project and purchases a pied-à-terre in Manhattan. Walking around the city streets reminds Abby what it feels like to be sexy, and her pent-up libido shakes off its inhibitions. Her desire is not a take-home item for the minivan ride back home, so Abby inaugurates a double life that draws her deeply into a world of prostitution for women.

In an auspicious debut effort, director Stacie Passon draws out a pitch-perfect performance from her lead actor, Robin Weigert, as a sexy, shut-down family woman stretching to bloom again. Palpably sensual and deliciously contained, Concussion is a keen observation of the complicated contours of midlife crisis.

People who added this item 68  Average listal rating (27 ratings) 6.8  IMDB Rating
6. The Truth About Emanuel (2013)
U.S.A., U.S. Dramatic

Emanuel, an acerbic but sensitive teen, lives with her father and stepmother. She’s on the verge of another birthday—a day she has never cared for since her mother died giving birth to her—when the mysterious Linda, a young and hip mother, moves in next door. Intrigued by Linda’s striking resemblance to her late mother, Emanuel begins to babysit for Linda’s newborn daughter. As Emanuel and Linda spend more time together, they develop a bond that becomes deeply entwined in a surprising secret Linda harbors.

Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes is a hyperstylized and often darkly humorous film that vacillates between surrealism and realism while it incorporates suspenseful drama. Writer/director Francesca Gregorini’s tightly constructed script fuses pain with poetry and explores the complexity of being complicit in the lives of our loved ones. In a breakout performance, Kaya Scodelario is the heart of the film as Emanuel, who must take a courageous journey to enter her dream and help extract Linda from hers.

People who added this item 190  Average listal rating (99 ratings) 7.5  IMDB Rating 7.5 
7. Fruitvale Station (2013)
*WINNER* U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic
*WINNER* Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic

U.S.A., U.S. Dramatic

Oscar Grant was a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who loved his friends, was generous to strangers, and had a hard time telling the truth to the mother of his beautiful daughter. He was scared and courageous and charming and raw, and as human as the community he was part of. That community paid attention to him, shouted on his behalf, and filmed him with their cell phones when BART officers, who were strong, intimidated, and acting in the way they thought they were supposed to behave around people like Oscar, shot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year’s Day in 2009.

Director Ryan Coogler makes an extraordinary directorial debut with this soulful account of the real-life event that horrified the nation. Featuring radiant performances by Melonie Diaz and Michael B. Jordan as Grant, a young man whose eyes were an open window into his soul, Fruitvale offers a barometer reading on the state of humanity in American society today.

People who added this item 100  Average listal rating (60 ratings) 6.6  IMDB Rating 6.7 
8. In a World... (2013)
*WINNER* Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic
U.S.A., U.S. Dramatic

Carol Solomon is a struggling vocal coach. Propelled by the hubris of her father, Sam Sotto, the reigning king of movie-trailer voice-over artists, Carol musters the courage to pursue her secret aspiration to be a voice-over star. Her fiery sister, Dani, becomes a trusted confidante, and Carol engages the skills of a charming sound techie named Louis. Armed with renewed confidence, Carol lands her first voice-over gig—a primo spot—nabbing the job from industry bad boy Gustav Warner. And then the real trouble begins. Carol becomes entangled in a web of dysfunction, sexism, unmitigated ego, and pride.

Lake Bell returns (her short film Worst Enemy played at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival) with her enchanting feature directorial debut. The multitalented Bell also wrote and stars in this hilarious comedy. With the help of a captivating ensemble cast that includes Fred Melamed, Demetri Martin, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, and Rob Corddry, In A World… brings its viewer into an idiosyncratic world where one woman fights the odds and finally finds her voice.
EmmaBell's rating:

People who added this item 226  Average listal rating (78 ratings) 6.7  IMDB Rating 6.5 
9. Kill Your Darlings (2013)
U.S.A., U.S. Dramatic

While he is attending Columbia University in 1944, the young Allen Ginsberg’s life is turned upside down when he sets eyes on Lucien Carr, an impossibly cool and boyishly handsome classmate. Carr opens Ginsberg up to a bohemian world and introduces him to William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. Repelled by rules and conformity in both life and literature, the four agree to tear down tradition and make something new, ultimately formulating the tenets of and giving birth to what became the Beat movement. On the outside, looking in, is David Kammerer, a man in his thirties desperately in love with Carr. When Kammerer is found dead, and Kerouac, Burroughs, and Carr are arrested in conjunction with the murder, the nascent artists’ lives change forever.

Daniel Radcliffe fearlessly takes on the role of the young Ginsberg on a journey of discovery—to find his sexuality and his voice as a writer. Cowriter/director John Krokidas takes on this less-explored early chapter of the Beats and captures the period with visual flair, kinetic energy, and imagination. Kill Your Darlings is the riveting true story of a crime, a friendship, and the nexus that spawned a cultural movement.

People who added this item 57  Average listal rating (31 ratings) 5.7  IMDB Rating 5.7 
10. The Lifeguard (2013)
U.S.A., U.S. Dramatic

Leigh, a whip-smart former valedictorian on the verge of 30, is living a seemingly perfect life in New York. When her work aspirations and love life suddenly come crashing down, she hightails it back to the cocoon of the Connecticut suburb where she grew up. Picking up right where her teen halcyon days left off, she moves into her old room with her parents, reunites with her bosom buddies who never left town, and steps back into her high school job as a condo-complex lifeguard. As she takes a transgressive journey back to adolescence, including entering into a forbidden affair, Leigh’s bold flirtation with disaster triggers a ripple effect all around her.

Wry, sexy, entertaining, and bittersweet, The Lifeguard revels in the fantasy of reverting to a responsibility-free time and cleverly coaxes its characters into the realization that safety can sometimes be a trap. With her witty, emotionally persuasive script, first-time director Liz Garcia invents a delectable coming-of-age story for our times.

People who added this item 3  Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0  IMDB Rating 6.9 
11. May in the Summer (2013)
English and Arabic with English subtitles, U.S.A./Qatar/Jordan, U.S. Dramatic

May has it all—a celebrated book, a sophisticated New York life, and a terrific fiancé to match. But when she heads to Amman, Jordan, to arrange her wedding, she lands in a bedlam of family chaos she thought she’d transcended long before. Her headstrong, born-again Christian mother so disapproves of her marrying a Muslim that she threatens to boycott the wedding. Her younger sisters lean on her like children, and her estranged father suddenly comes out of the woodwork. Meanwhile, doubts about her marriage surface, and May’s carefully structured life spins out of control.

As with her debut feature, Amreeka, Cherien Dabis lovingly breathes life into a world rarely depicted on screen. She takes us to contemporary Jordan, where ancient traditions, burgeoning modernity, and Western imitation deliciously collide, and nothing is quite what it seems. Taking a star turn in the title role, Dabis expertly captures the knotty dynamics of a household of women, mining the inherent humor and pathos as her irresistible characters stumble through rocky familial and romantic terrain.

People who added this item 6  Average listal rating (2 ratings) 7.5  IMDB Rating 6.3 
12. Mother of George (2013)
*WINNER* Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic
U.S.A., U.S. Dramatic

At long last, handsome Ayodele Balogun, owner of a small Nigerian restaurant in Brooklyn, will wed his beautiful fiancée, Adenike, and they will start a new life together in the United States. Their traditional Yoruba wedding culminates in a ceremony where Adenike is named for her yet-to-be-conceived son, George. But as the months pass without pregnancy, Ma George is torn between her Yoruba culture and her new life in America as she faces uncomfortable and unfamiliar choices in her struggle to save her marriage.

Director Andrew Dosunmu returns to the Sundance Film Festival (his film, Restless City, screened in 2011) with this astonishingly radiant portrait of Nigerian immigrant family life. Featuring soulful performances by Isaach De Bankolé and Danai Gurira, and opulent cinematography by the award-winning Bradford Young, Mother of George is a singular cinematic accomplishment that elevates this illustration of the complicated challenges of African immigrant life to a place of beauty and reverence.

People who added this item 275  Average listal rating (177 ratings) 7.2  IMDB Rating 7.3 
13. The Spectacular Now (2013)
*WINNER* U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting - Miles Teller & Shailene Woodley
U.S.A., U.S. Dramatic

Sutter Keely lives in the now. It’s a good place for him. A high school senior, charming and self-possessed, he’s the life of the party, loves his job at a men’s clothing store, and has no plans for the future. A budding alcoholic, he’s never far from his supersized, whisky-fortified 7UP cup. But after being dumped by his girlfriend, Sutter gets drunk and wakes up on a lawn with Aimee Finicky hovering over him. Not a member of the cool crowd, she’s different: the “nice girl” who reads science fiction and doesn’t have a boyfriend. She does have dreams, while Sutter lives in a world of impressive self-delusion. And yet they’re drawn to each other.

Adapted from Tim Tharp’s novel, The Spectacular Now captures the insecurity and confusion of adolescence without looking for tidy truths. Young actors rarely portray teens with the maturity that Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley display, and they are phenomenal together. Funny, compassionate, and poignant, James Ponsoldt’s third feature again demonstrates his ability to lay bare the souls of his characters.
EmmaBell's rating:

People who added this item 53  Average listal rating (20 ratings) 5.7  IMDB Rating 5.3 
14. Touchy Feely (2013)
U.S.A., U.S. Dramatic

What happens when a family’s delicate psychic balance suddenly unravels? Abby is a free-spirited massage therapist. Her brother, Paul, an emotional zombie, owns a flagging dental practice, where he enlists the assistance of his equally emotionally stunted daughter, Jenny. Suddenly, transformation touches everyone. Abby develops an uncontrollable aversion to bodily contact, which seriously hinders her chosen profession and the passionate love life she once shared with her boyfriend. Meanwhile, rumors of Paul’s “healing touch” begin to miraculously invigorate his practice. As Abby navigates through an identity crisis, her brother discovers a whole new side of himself.

Boasting superb performances from an ensemble cast that includes Rosemarie DeWitt, Josh Pais, Ellen Page, Scoot McNairy, Allison Janney, Ron Livingston, and newcomer Tomo Nakayama, Touchy Feely is about learning to live in your own skin—literally and figuratively. Written and directed by talented Sundance alumnus Lynn Shelton (Humpday, Your Sister’s Sister), Touchy Feely bristles with originality, coupled with Shelton’s trademark sensitivity to the foibles of human nature.

People who added this item 185  Average listal rating (101 ratings) 7  IMDB Rating 7.2 
15. The Kings of Summer (2013)
U.S.A., U.S. Dramatic

Joe Toy, on the verge of adolescence, finds himself increasingly frustrated by his single father, Frank’s, attempts to manage his life. Declaring his freedom once and for all, he escapes to a clearing in the woods with his best friend, Patrick, and a strange kid named Biaggio and announces that they are going to build a house there—free from responsibility and parents. Once their makeshift abode is finished, the three young men find themselves masters of their own destiny, alone in the woods.

Jordan Vogt-Roberts, director of the short Successful Alcoholics, which screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, returns with a feature film debut fueled by teenage angst and childlike imagination. Anchored by the comedic performances of newcomers Nick Robinson, Moises Arias, and Gabriel Basso, Vogt-Roberts and screenwriter Chris Galletta create a humorous coming-of-age tale that deftly combines moments of heartfelt rebellion and complete lunacy.
EmmaBell's rating:

People who added this item 186  Average listal rating (105 ratings) 7.3  IMDB Rating 6.8 
16. Upstream Color (2013)
*WINNER* U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Sound Design - Shane Carruth & Johnny Marshall
U.S.A., U.S. Dramatic

Kris is derailed from her life when she is drugged by a small-time thief. But something bigger is going on. She is unknowingly drawn into the life cycle of a presence that permeates the microscopic world, moving to nematodes, plant life, livestock, and back again. Along the way, she finds another being—a familiar, who is equally consumed by the larger force. The two search urgently for a place of safety within each other as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of their wrecked lives.

Shane Carruth’s sensuously directed and much anticipated sophomore effort (his feature debut, Primer, won the Sundance Film Festival 2004 Grand Jury Prize) is a truly remarkable film that lies beyond the power of language to communicate while it delivers a cohesive sensory experience. With its muscular cinematic language rooted in the powerful yearnings felt before words can be formed, Upstream Color is an entirely original, mythic, romantic thriller that goes in search of truths that lie just beyond our reach.


World Dramatic

Fourteen films from emerging filmmaking talents offer fresh perspectives and inventive styles.
People who added this item 28  Average listal rating (17 ratings) 7.8  IMDB Rating
17. Circles (2013)
*WINNER* World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award
Serbian with English subtitles, Serbia/Germany/France/Croatia/Slovenia, World Dramatic

Circles unfolds as a triptych, exploring the moral convolutions and complex story strands that emerge from one fateful moment.

Marco, a Serbian soldier on leave during the war, returns to his Bosnian hometown. When three fellow soldiers accost Haris, a Muslim shopkeeper, Marco intervenes, but it costs him his life. Twelve years later the war is over, but the wounds remain open. Marco’s father is rebuilding a church when Bogdan, the son of one of Marco’s killers, appears looking for work. Meanwhile in Belgrade, Marco's friend Nabobs, a renowned surgeon, debates whether or not to operate on another of Marco’s killers. And in Germany, Haris—now married with a family—strives to repay his debt when Marco’s widow arrives seeking refuge.

With its gorgeous cinematography and simmering tension, Srdan Golubovic’s third feature (The Trap, 2007, garnered great acclaim) employs a multifaceted, yet simple, structure that contemplates revenge, redemption, and reconciliation. Aware of how easily hatred and violence can create life-shattering ripples, Golubovic looks at the consequences of moral courage, asking whether a heroic act can generate ripples of another kind.

People who added this item 45  Average listal rating (20 ratings) 6.6  IMDB Rating 5.8 
18. Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus (2013)
*WINNER* Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic
Chile, World Dramatic

Jamie is a boorish, insensitive American twentysomething traveling in Chile, who somehow manages to create chaos at every turn. He and his friends are planning on taking a road trip north to experience a legendary shamanistic hallucinogen called the San Pedro cactus. In a fit of drunkenness at a wild party, Jamie invites an eccentric woman—a radical spirit named Crystal Fairy—to come along. What is meant to be a devil-may-care journey becomes a battle of wills as Jamie finds himself locking horns with his new traveling companion. But on a remote, pristine beach at the edge of the desert, the magic brew is finally imbibed, and the true adventure begins. Preconceived notions and judgments fall away, and the ragtag group breaks through to an authentic moment of truth.

With his signature flair, maverick writer/director Sebastián Silva returns (The Maid won the dramatic Jury Prize in 2009) to unearth the deadpan comedy that results from the archrivalry between his ego-clashing characters. Culminating in a profound audience experience, Crystal Fairy is about the gifts we can receive when we stop reaching for them.

People who added this item 10  Average listal rating (6 ratings) 6.3  IMDB Rating 5.8 
19. The Future (2013)
English and Italian with English subtitles, Chile/Germany/Italy/Spain, World Dramatic

When her parents die in a car accident, adolescent Bianca’s universe is upended. Staying alone in the family’s Rome apartment and entrusted with the care of her younger brother, Tomas, she struggles to hold things together as her place in her surreal new world becomes blurry. Life is further complicated when Tomas’s gym-rat friends invite themselves to stay indefinitely. Using Bianca as a lure for a heist they’ve concocted, they convince her to initiate a sexual relationship with enigmatic blind hermit Maciste, played by Rutger Hauer. But as the two spend time together, Bianca unexpectedly finds normalcy and acceptance in the aging B-movie star and former Mr. Universe’s rococo mansion.

Alicia Scherson’s striking third feature uses the streets of Rome to create a world both richly beautiful and unapologetically provocative—the very aesthetic reflecting Bianca’s disorientation as the future becomes her present. Even the unsettling score morphs with her, growing bigger and bolder as she does. IL FUTURO’s lead actor, Manuela Martelli, fearlessly embodies Bianca’s confusion and vulnerability, capturing her slow climb to maturity through a series of subtle shifts and revelations.

People who added this item 1  Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0  IMDB Rating 5.4 
20. Houston (2013)
English and German with English subtitles, Germany, World Dramatic

Clemens Trunschka is not doing so well. With spotty employment and a shaky marriage, he’s pretty much lost any claim to being a “functional alcoholic.” The more accurate term for him would probably be “lousy drunk.” So when an opportunity arises to help a German company recruit an American candidate as its CEO, Trunschka seizes the chance to get back in the black—with both his finances and his family.

Showing a deftness for handling such emotional material, writer/director Bastian Günther expands Trunschka’s headhunting expedition into a captivating and subtle examination of failure. He’s aided by lead actor Ulrich Tukur, who delivers a fearless portrayal of a man searching for new ways to hit bottom as he flings himself down the slopes of self-loathing with all the gusto of a certain cartoon coyote. Houston dives unflinchingly deep into the heart of Texas and comes up with something as surprising as it is precious: hope.

People who added this item 2  Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0  IMDB Rating 6.9 
21. Jiseul (2012)
*WINNER* World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic
Korean with English subtitles, b/w, South Korea, World Dramatic

Set during the 1948 Jeju Massacre in Korea, Jiseul tells the story of some 120 villagers who hid in a cave for 60 days from soldiers who were under shoot-to-kill orders. They suffer from severe cold and hunger but retain their sanity by making jokes and holding on to the hope that their wait is almost over. Eventually their endurance wanes, and fear begins to test the group’s mettle.

The absurdity-of-war theme has been explored in many films, but rarely in such exquisite detail as in this offering from writer/director Muel O. Striking black-and-white cinematography captures the texture of the region as well as the humanity of its inhabitants. The film doesn’t condemn anyone but rather focuses on the heart of the story—real people living in fear. Powerful and tender, Jiseul is at certain times hard to watch because of the content and at others extremely engaging because of the authentic human emotion. O has crafted a potent and poetic requiem for a people and a place close to his heart.

People who added this item 3  Average listal rating (1 ratings) 4  IMDB Rating 5.4 
22. Lasting (2013)
*WINNER* Cinematography Award: World Cinema Dramatic
Spanish/Polish with English subtitles, Poland/Spain, World Dramatic

Michał and Karina fall head over heels in love during their summer holiday in Spain. Under the warm sun-soaked vineyards in the ecstasy of their thrilling new romance, everything feels carefree and innocent. But when Michał has a threatening encounter with an unsavory property owner while scuba diving, an impulsive act leads to a devastating turn.

Michał covers up what happened and suddenly returns to Poland without telling Karina the truth. Soon Karina also has something she keeps from Michał. With their secrets looming over them, their once-unbridled affection begins slipping through their hands, and their bright, innocent faces turn dark with worry.

With an immersive touch, Jacek Borcuch effortlessly captures the couple’s youthful spirit and rapture, amplifying the weight of the emotionally sobering drama that ensues. Marking a welcome return to the Sundance Film Festival (All That I Love screened in 2010), Lasting is an exploration of that rare species of love that can endure life’s pitfalls, and a terrifying reminder that one fateful minute can upend everything.

People who added this item 14  Average listal rating (6 ratings) 7.2  IMDB Rating 7.5 
23. Metro Manila (2013)
*WINNER*Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic
Tagalog with English subtitles, United Kingdom/Philippines, World Dramatic

Seeking a brighter future in megacity Manila, Oscar Ramirez and his family flee their impoverished life in the rice fields of the northern Philippines. But the sweltering capital’s bustling intensity quickly overwhelms them, and they fall prey to the rampant manipulations of its hardened locals. Oscar catches a lucky break when he’s offered steady work for an armored truck company and gregarious senior officer Ong takes him under his wing. Soon, though, the reality of his work’s mortality rate and the murky motives of his new partner force Oscar to confront the perils he faces in his new job and life.

Director Sean Ellis’s return (The Broken premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival) vividly captures the desperation of life amongst the squalid Manila slums, then ratchets up the tension, creating an intense thriller with a poignant humanity and palpable dramatic stakes. In the role of Oscar, Jake Macapagal brings emotional depth to the wrenching choices he must make to sustain his family.

People who added this item 1  Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0  IMDB Rating 6.9 
24. Shopping (2013)
New Zealand, World Dramatic

Living in New Zealand in 1981 amid high racial tension, Willie, a half-Samoan teenager, is coming into his own. With an unpredictable father, Willie spends most of his time working at a department store or taking care of his little brother, Solomon. A chance encounter at work with an eccentric and charming “shopper” named Bennie lures Willie into a world without rules. As Willie begins to find a place in Bennie’s reckless nest of criminals, Solomon grows increasingly vulnerable to their father’s violent tendencies.

Filmmakers Louis Sutherland and Mark Albiston have masterfully conjured brilliant performances from Kevin Paulo and Julian Dennison to portray an authentic and powerful story of brotherly love in a harsh world. After awarding them the Jury Prize for International Short Filmmaking in 2010 for The Six Dollar Fifty Man, the Sundance Film Festival is happy to welcome back Sutherland and Albiston for their feature film debut.

People who added this item 3  Average listal rating (2 ratings) 5.5  IMDB Rating
25. Soldier Jane (2013)
German/French with English subtitles, Austria, World Dramatic

Even though the walls are crumbling around Fanni’s opulent lifestyle, one could never tell due to her poker face and unflappable etiquette. No longer moved by the beautiful objects money can buy, and on the verge of being discovered for her conniving ways, Fanni sheds her bourgeois identity and decides to trek her way through the alpine mountains. She reaches a remote farm and meets Anna, a young woman shackled by circumstances of her own. Anna has had enough of pigs, and Fanni has had enough of money. Their mutual, yet opposing, quests toward a redefined freedom spark a newfound transformation.

Whether in crocodile heels and pearls or manure-covered overalls, Fanni’s nerves-of-steel character is superbly inhabited by Johanna Orsini-Rosenberg. In his striking debut, director Daniel Hoesl’s exacting compositions and visual style places man-made wealth in stark contrast to nature’s bounty, while leaving intact the fierce core of transgression and powerful engine of rebellion beneath his main character’s surface. With a subversive tone, this punk parable revels in the notions of relinquishing materialism and reclaiming unfettered liberty while savoring the sweet taste of revolt and reconstruction.

People who added this item 12  Average listal rating (6 ratings) 5.5  IMDB Rating 6.4 
26. There Will Come a Day (2013)
Portuguese/Italian with English subtitles, Italy/France, World Dramatic

A personal crisis sends Augusta, a young Italian woman, far from home on a search for faith and meaning in her life. True to her devout Catholic background, she decides to accompany a nun as she ministers to Indigenous Brazilian villages along the Amazon River. Gradually disillusioned with the hierarchical nature of the work, Augusta opts to stay in the port city of Manaus, where she joins a favela community and works alongside the family she adopts there. Tragedy strikes, and she embarks on a bold journey of self-realization—in utter isolation, where she can finally face herself completely.

A feast for the eyes, There Will Come a Day captures the grandeur of the Amazon with gorgeous aerial shots and contrasts them with intimate, textured moments among characters in close quarters, inspiring us to reflect on scale and perspective. Toggling between hushed moments with Augusta’s religious mother in Italy and the more colorful, energized world of Brazil, this layered, meditative film subtly explores how spiritual questions materialize at different stages of life, how destabilizing experiences yield new insight, and how our postcolonial era reframes the very notion of altruism.

People who added this item 7  Average listal rating (2 ratings) 5  IMDB Rating 6.9 
27. Wajma, an Afghan Love Story (2013)
*WINNER* Screenwriting Award: World Cinema Dramatic
Persian with English subtitles, Afghanistan, World Dramatic

It’s snowing in Kabul, and gregarious waiter Mustafa charms a pretty student named Wajma. The pair begin a clandestine relationship—they’re playful and passionate but ever mindful of the societal rules they are breaking. After Wajma discovers she is pregnant, her certainty that Mustafa will marry her falters, and word of their dalliance gets out. Her father must decide between his culturally held right to uphold family honor and his devotion to his daughter.

Wajma (An Afghan Love Story) offers us a more complex and nuanced portrait of contemporary dating and the role of women in middle-class Afghanistan than we’ve been permitted to see before onscreen. Wajma Bahar’s dynamic intensity in the title role is matched by the powerful work of Hadji Gul as her foreboding but conflicted father. Beginning his story as an intimate romance, filmmaker Barmak Akram shifts the focus to the volatility in Wajma’s home after her secret is divulged, ultimately revealing an Afghan family just as capable of cruelty—and forgiveness—as any in the world.

Indonesian with English subtitles, Indonesia, World Dramatic

At a high school for the visually impaired in Jakarta, Indonesia, the students are like any other teenagers: they attend classes, pursue artistic endeavors, and fall in love. The most privileged of the bunch, Diana, patiently awaits signs of womanhood and humors her mother’s attempts to mold her into the perfect girl. The beautiful Fitri has no shortage of male attention and enters into a passionate affair with, unbeknownst to her, a hearing-impaired punk rocker who is masquerading as a doctor. Meanwhile, Maya, blind since birth, aspires to be an actress and performer. Regardless of physical barriers, the students find ways to communicate and collaborate, enabling them to connect—with each other and to the outside world.

Writer/director Mouly Surya elegantly employs the language of cinema to evoke the sensory experience of her protagonists through deliberate silences, languid tracking shots down corridors, and highly choreographed movement. With gentle humor, playfulness, and heightened realism, What They Don’t Talk About… draws out the poetry in its characters, highlighting the magic in their lives and respecting who they are.


U.S. Documentary

16 world-premiere documentaries that illuminate the ideas, people, and events that shape the present day.
U.S.A., U.S. Documentary

In 2011, seemingly overnight, Occupy captured the imagination of our nation—and the world. The sweeping story of the birth of a movement, 99%—The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film follows a disparate group of activists who converge on lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park to build a society organized by nonhierarchical decision-making structures. Inspired by the idea that wealth and political power are dangerously concentrated, grassroots groups from Minneapolis to Mississippi to Oakland soon follow suit, converging to focus on issues crucial to their own communities. After confrontations, expulsions, and mass arrests, the movement finds itself at a crossroad. What’s next?

Designed in part as an experiment modeled on Occupy’s process, the film employs multiple cameras around the country to capture the kinetic, immediate experience on the ground, peppered with a comprehensive range of viewpoints from activists, experts, and detractors. In an era of hopelessness and resignation, this film is a reminder that another world order is still possible.

People who added this item 5  Average listal rating (2 ratings) 8  IMDB Rating 7.3 
30. After Tiller (2013)
U.S.A., U.S. Documentary

Since the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas in 2009, only four doctors in the United States continue to perform third-trimester abortions. These physicians, all colleagues of Dr. Tiller, sacrifice their safety and personal lives in the name of their fierce, unwavering conviction to help women. But for some in the pro-life movement, these doctors are “murderers” who must be stopped.

Offering audiences an unprecedented perspective, After Tiller is an intimate look into each of the four physicians’ private and professional struggles. Wrenching moments in the clinics, when they gently counsel distraught patients facing grievous losses, force us to step into the shoes of both practitioner and patient and confront the full complexity of each decision. Decades after Roe v. Wade legalized abortion, the issue remains one of the most volatile in our public sphere. After Tiller sensitively and artfully extricates the controversy from the ideological realm and humanizes those who have been demonized.

People who added this item 2  Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0  IMDB Rating 7.2 
31. American Promise (2013)
*WINNER* U. S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Achievement in Filmmaking
U.S.A., U.S. Documentary

In 1999, filmmakers Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson turned the camera on themselves and began filming their five-year-old son, Idris, and his best friend, Seun, as they started kindergarten at the prestigious Dalton School just as the private institution was committing to diversify its student body. Their cameras continued to follow both families for another 12 years as the paths of the two boys diverged—one continued private school while the other pursued a very different route through the public education system.

American Promise is an epic and groundbreaking documentary charged with the hope that every child can reach his or her full potential and contribute to a better future for our country. It calls into question commonly held assumptions about educational access and what factors really influence academic performance. Stephenson and Brewster deliver a rare, intimate, and emotional portrait of black middle-class family life, humanizing the unique journey of African-American boys as they face the real-life hurdles society poses for young men of color, inside and outside the classroom.

People who added this item 136  Average listal rating (97 ratings) 7.8  IMDB Rating 8.1 
32. Blackfish (2013)
U.S.A., U.S. Documentary

Many of us have experienced the excitement and awe of watching 8,000-pound orcas, or “killer whales,” soar out of the water and fly through the air at sea parks, as if in perfect harmony with their trainers. Yet, in our contemporary lore this mighty black-and-white mammal is like a two-faced Janus—beloved as a majestic, friendly giant yet infamous for its capacity to kill viciously. Blackfish unravels the complexities of this dichotomy, employing the story of notorious performing whale Tilikum, who—unlike any orca in the wild—has taken the lives of several people while in captivity. So what exactly went wrong?

Shocking, never-before-seen footage and riveting interviews with trainers and experts manifest the orca’s extraordinary nature, the species’ cruel treatment in captivity over the last four decades, and the growing disillusionment of workers who were misled and endangered by the highly profitable sea-park industry. This emotionally wrenching, tautly structured story challenges us to consider our relationship to nature and reveals how little we humans have learned from these highly intelligent and enormously sentient fellow mammals.

People who added this item 7  Average listal rating (2 ratings) 8  IMDB Rating 8.1 
33. Blood Brother (2013)
*WINNER* U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary
*WINNER* Audience Award: U.S. Documentary
U.S.A., U.S. Documentary

The unmistakable power of love is celebrated in this story of one man’s decision to move to India and restart his life among the dispossessed. “Rocky Anna,” as the children living at an orphanage for those infected with HIV know him, was dissatisfied with his life in America. Having grown up without a close-knit family of his own, he found his calling living and working with kids in need. Unlike others who simply passed through their lives, Rocky stayed, dedicating himself to their health and well-being. Despite formidable challenges, his playful spirit and determination in the face of despair proves to be an invaluable resource.

Director Steve Hoover—who is best friends with his subject—ventured to India to chronicle Rocky’s newfound life in this beautifully crafted and personal film. The bond Rocky forges with his friend and the deep connection he makes with the children he serves is Blood Brother’s testament to one person’s ability to create a meaningful life.

People who added this item 3  Average listal rating (1 ratings) 5  IMDB Rating
34. Citizen Koch (2013)
U.S.A., U.S. Documentary

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010 lifted a century-long ban on restricted corporate election spending, unleashing a new era of unbridled special-interest campaign finance. Citizen Koch examines the mushrooming struggle between money and democracy through the dramatic lens of the 2011 standoff in Wisconsin when Governor Scott Walker, bankrolled by out-of-state billionaires, stripped state employees of their union rights.

Among a million outraged Wisconsinites, we meet individuals struggling with their Republican political loyalties as they decide whether to join the grassroots-fueled recall of Walker, a GOP rising star and Tea Party favorite. Meanwhile, on a national level, former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer watches his Republican presidential campaign fizzle as he refuses, on principle, donations of more than a hundred dollars and gets outspent and drowned out by Super PAC–funded opponents. Combining intimate vérité scenes and a big-picture–style investigative exposé, Citizen Koch probes behind the headlines to penetrate one of the core issues of our time: Who really has the power in America—private donors or the voting public?

People who added this item 36  Average listal rating (13 ratings) 7.1  IMDB Rating 7.2 
35. Cutie and the Boxer (2013)
*WINNER* Directing Award: U. S. Documentary
U.S.A., U.S. Documentary

Zachary Heinzerling’s remarkable debut is an indelible portrait of art, companionship, and the 40-year love story between Ushio and Noriko Shinohara, two Japanese artists who meet and marry in New York in the early 1970s. Surviving decades of hardship, resentment, financial anxiety, thwarted aspirations, and Ushio’s chronic alcoholism, they are a study in artistic symbiosis.

Now 80 years old and finally sober, Ushio is preparing a joint exhibit with Noriko, yet he still treats her as a de facto assistant. Ushio’s mixed-media sculptures and “boxing” paintings, infused with chaotic energy, have brought notoriety—but rarely income. Meanwhile, Noriko, emerging from her husband’s shadow, creates intimate comic-styled watercolor and ink drawings that tell the story—a muted empowerment fantasy—of their alter egos, Cutie and Bullie.

Skillfully photographed and crafted, Cutie and the Boxer moves fluidly between past and present, employing a vérité aesthetic, archival footage, and beautifully animated sequences of Noriko’s drawings. Heinzerling seamlessly inhabits their space, observing its rhythms and textures, their complex dynamic, and the creative vitality that fuels their lives.

People who added this item 19  Average listal rating (7 ratings) 7.1  IMDB Rating 7.4 
36. Dirty Wars (2013)
*WINNER* Cinematography Award: U. S. Documentary
U.S.A., U.S. Documentary

It’s the dirty little secret of the War on Terror: all bets are off, and almost anything goes. We have fundamentally changed the rules of the game and the rules of engagement. Prior to 9/11, it was customary for America to sound a formal declaration of war on a given country before attacking. Today drone strikes, night raids, and U.S. government–condoned torture occur in hidden corners across the globe, generating unprecedented civilian casualties. Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill traces the rise of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the most secret and elite fighting force in U.S. history, exposing covert operations carried out by men who do not exist on paper and will never appear before Congress. No target is off-limits for the JSOC “kill list,” even if the person is a U.S. citizen.

Director Richard Rowley takes us on a chilling ride with fearless whistle-blower Scahill. Dirty Wars is a battle cry for the soul and conscience of an America few of us know exists.

People who added this item 1  Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0  IMDB Rating 7.7 
37. Gideon's Army (2013)
*WINNER* Editing Award: U. S. Documentary
U.S.A., U.S. Documentary

Our lives no longer belong to us alone; they belong to all those who need us desperately —Elie Wiesel

In 1963, the landmark Supreme Court decision Gideon v. Wainwright guaranteed all defendants facing imprisonment the right to a lawyer. Now, every year millions of Americans facing trial rely on fewer than 15,000 public defenders, and the country’s justice system hangs in the balance. Gideon’s Army confronts this crisis head-on, tracking a group of young southern public defenders hell-bent on protecting the sanctity of human liberty.

Taut, visceral filmmaking plunges us into the unbelievably demanding lives of three fledgling public defenders in Georgia and Mississippi. Not only are they juggling hundreds of cases independently, but their offices don’t have adequate resources, and their salaries barely cover personal expenses—including six-figure law-school debts.

As all three lawyers harness ingenuity, perseverance, and adrenaline to fight for their indigent clients, we wonder: How long can they keep working in a constant state of emergency? Will they find the moral support to sustain this higher calling? And if not, what happens to our democracy?

People who added this item 4  Average listal rating (1 ratings) 8  IMDB Rating 7.7 
38. God Loves Uganda (2013)
English and Swahili with English subtitles, U.S.A., U.S. Documentary

A battle rages in East Africa, where crosses replace guns and shouts of prayer roar louder than missiles. American evangelical Christians have chosen Uganda, with Africa’s youngest and most vulnerable population, as their ground zero in a battle for the soul of a continent. American missionaries and religious leaders are working with African pastors in a radical campaign to eradicate sin through the most extreme measures. The stakes are nothing less than life and death.

Filmmaker Roger Ross Williams exposes the missionary movement in Uganda as an outgrowth of Africa’s colonialist past and a twenty-first century crusade to recreate a continent of people in the image and likeness of America’s most extreme fundamentalists. Williams captures vérité footage so shocking that viewers may be squirming in their seats. Masterfully crafted and astonishingly provocative, God Loves Uganda may be the most terrifying film of the year.

People who added this item 11  Average listal rating (8 ratings) 7.5  IMDB Rating
39. Inequality for All (2013)
*WINNER* U. S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Achievement in Filmmaking
U.S.A., U.S. Documentary

In lectures, books, and years of commentary, former labor secretary and current UC Berkeley Professor Robert Reich has argued passionately that widening income inequality poses one of the most severe threats to our economy and democracy.

Filmmaker Jacob Kornbluth, inspired by Reich’s book Aftershock, tackles this massive topic by effectively adapting Reich himself into documentary form. Asking how we got here and what happens if we don’t act, Kornbluth and Reich dissect countless issues—among them wage stagnation, consolidated wealth, manufacturing, financial instruments, capital markets, globalization, and election politics—with an uncanny ability to render complex principles digestible. In addition to interviews with other economists, politicians, and experts, Kornbluth documents the struggles of regular working people for whom the American dream is increasingly untenable.

In this An Inconvenient Truth for the economy, Reich presents a compelling, intellectually rigorous narrative bolstered by abundant research and graphics. In upholding rational inquiry over ideological prisms, he encourages us (as he does his students) not to share his opinion but to challenge our own assumptions.

People who added this item 4  Average listal rating (1 ratings) 6  IMDB Rating
40. Life According to Sam (2013)
U.S.A., U.S. Documentary

Progeria is an extremely rare and fatal disease, exemplified by accelerated aging in the children who are afflicted by it. There is no treatment. There is no cure. Enter Doctors Leslie Gordon and Scott Berns. When their son, Sam, was diagnosed with progeria at age two, the prognosis was grim—the couple were simply told to enjoy the few years they had left with their only son—but they weren’t willing to give up that easily. They spearheaded a campaign to save Sam and the other children in the world who share this devastating illness. In a little more than a decade, their extraordinary advances have led not only to identifying the gene that causes progeria and testing the first experimental drug to treat it but also to the amazing discovery that it is linked to the aging process in all of us.

With Life According to Sam, directors Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine return to the Sundance Film Festival (War Dance won the Documentary Directing Award in 2007) with a deeply touching account of one family’s courageous fight, reminding us to make the most of our lives in the time we are given.

People who added this item 5  Average listal rating (2 ratings) 7  IMDB Rating
41. Manhunt
U.S.A./United Kingdom, U.S. Documentary

On May 2, 2011, Osama bin Laden, America’s public enemy number one, was killed by Navy SEALs in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The raid, a watershed moment that gripped most of the world, lasted a mere 40 minutes. But the hunt for bin Laden took two decades.

The search began with a team of mostly female CIA analysts, known in intelligence circles as the Sisterhood. These women were trying to take down bin Laden before most of us even knew his name. Piecing together scraps of intelligence, they uncovered a secret terrorist organization, Al Qaeda, and warned Washington of this new impending threat. Their warnings were repeatedly ignored…until the 9/11 attacks, when all the rules changed.

MANHUNT unfolds like a thriller. Renowned filmmaker Greg Barker garners unfettered access to the inner circle of a clandestine war on terror and creates a riveting tale of espionage and the moral choices of war.

People who added this item 6  Average listal rating (4 ratings) 7.5  IMDB Rating 7.4 
42. Narco Cultura (2013)
U.S.A., U.S. Documentary

To a growing number of Mexicans and Latinos in the Americas, narco-traffickers have become iconic outlaws and the new models of fame and success. They represent a pathway out of the ghetto, nurturing a new American dream fueled by the war on drugs. Narco Cultura looks at this explosive phenomenon from within, exposing cycles of addiction to money, drugs, and violence that are rapidly gaining strength on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Artfully lensed, Narco Cultura exquisitely manages to capture the horrific devastation wreaked by the drug cartels. Focusing on certain disparate individuals impacted by them, including a narco-corridos singer in the U.S. and a crime scene investigator in Juarez, the film vividly portrays both the allure and the human cost of it all. Photographer/filmmaker Shaul Schwarz has crafted a dazzling, yet harrowing, examination of the viral effect of the violence that has reshaped the face of a country and created an entire subculture that celebrates corruption.

People who added this item 33  Average listal rating (16 ratings) 7.4  IMDB Rating 7.4 
43. Twenty Feet from Stardom (2013)
U.S.A., U.S. Documentary

What would a pop song be without the riffs, refrains, and harmonies of its backup vocalists? Although these singers are usually relegated to the margins, and few, if any, become household names, their work has defined countless songs that remain in our hearts and collective consciousness. Twenty Feet from Stardom juxtaposes interviews with industry legends (Bruce Springsteen, Bette Midler, and others) and the relative unknowns who support them like Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, and Judith Hill as they illuminate the art of melding their own distinct voices with lead vocals and reveal their desires for careers as solo artists.

Twenty Feet from Stardom traces the backup singers’ history—from those Phil Spector–produced pop tunes and soul-inspired British Explosion acts (Joe Cocker, the Rolling Stones) of the 1960s, to their reversal of fortune when the recording industry changed in the 1990s, and into today. Filmmaker Morgan Neville’s unprecedented look at the moving personal journeys of these normally uncelebrated artists pays tribute to their indelible role in popular music.

People who added this item 3  Average listal rating (2 ratings) 8  IMDB Rating 7.3 
44. Valentine Road (2013)
U.S.A., U.S. Documentary

On February 12, 2008, in Oxnard, California, eighth-grade student Brandon McInerney shot his classmate Larry King twice in the back of the head during first period. When Larry died two days later, his murder shocked the nation. Was this a hate crime, one perpetrated by a budding neo-Nazi whose masculinity was threatened by an effeminate gay kid who may have had a crush on him? Or was there even more to it?

Looking beyond all the copious news coverage of this tragic event, Valentine Road tells the story of two victims: the deceased and the murderer. With keen insight, the film connects the human wreckage of Larry’s and Brandon’s troubled lives—both physically abused, both from broken homes, and both searching for a sense of belonging. Filmmaker Marta Cunningham puts a human face on a critical issue challenging communities everywhere. Namely, how do we help kids like Brandon and Larry before tragedy happens? Haunting, infuriating, and powerful, Valentine Road shakes us to our core as it calls to question our very notion of justice.


World Documentary

Twelve documentaries by some of the most courageous and extraordinary filmmakers working today.
People who added this item 0  Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0  IMDB Rating 6.2 
45. Fallen City (2011)
Chinese with English subtitles, China, World Documentary

The 2008 earthquake in China utterly destroyed not only physical structures but also human lives in mountain cities like Beichuan. Through the gracefully interwoven stories of three survivors from the town, Fallen City documents the struggle to rebuild amidst ruin. Meanwhile, down the road, a new Beichuan is rising. The Chinese government’s solution to the devastation of the earthquake is a completely new town where the survivors can live a better, more prosperous life in spacious flats among manicured landscapes.

As the physical structures appear at a breakneck pace, we see that people’s hearts cannot be repaired as easily. First-time director Zhao Qi gives us an intimate look at Chinese life by focusing on the people’s unshakable familial love and commitment—values not seen as often in the West. Through surprising turns, haunting visuals, and the personal and political drive to forget, Fallen City becomes a testimony to the universal human will to persevere and remember.

People who added this item 4  Average listal rating (1 ratings) 8  IMDB Rating 7.4 
46. Fire in the Blood (2013)
English and Hindi/Manipuri/Xhosa with English subtitles, India, World Documentary

In 1996, the development of antiretroviral drug therapies may not have cured AIDS, but the breakthrough made the disease treatable—if patients could afford the hefty price tag. For millions in the developing world, the cost kept essential medicines out of reach and meant they would continue to die. Hope came in the form of low-cost generic drugs manufactured in India and elsewhere, but pharmaceutical companies—favoring patents over patients and profits over the prevention of unnecessary deaths—threatened legal action against any company that dared circumvent their control of the market. The struggle to overcome this inconceivably greedy blockade—with literally life or death stakes—is at the heart of Dylan Mohan Gray’s absorbing documentary.

Gray uses the response to the AIDS crisis in Africa to reveal the power of the drug companies and the impact of their lobby on the federal government. The implications of their ability to effectively deny critical treatment based on economic inequities are more far reaching than any single disease.

People who added this item 5  Average listal rating (3 ratings) 6  IMDB Rating 6.9 
47. Google and the World Brain (2013)
Spain/United Kingdom, World Documentary

The goal of accumulating all human knowledge in one repository has been a dream since ancient times. Only recently, however, has that dream become a reality. Quietly and behind closed doors, Google has been executing a project to scan and digitize every printed word on the planet. Working with the world’s most prestigious libraries, the webmasters are reinventing the limits of copyright in the name of free access to anyone, anywhere. What can possibly be wrong with this picture?

As Google and the World Brain reveals, a whole lot. Some argue that Google’s actions represent aggressive theft on an enormous scale, others see them as an attempt to monopolize our shared cultural heritage, and still others view the project as an attempt to flatten our minds by consolidating complex ideas into searchable “extra-long tweets.” At first slowly, and then with intensifying conviction, a diverse coalition mobilizes to stop the fulfillment of this ambitious dream. Incisive and riveting as it uncovers a high-stakes multinational heist, Ben Lewis’s film voices an important alternative to the technological utopianism of our time.

People who added this item 7  Average listal rating (4 ratings) 7.5  IMDB Rating
48. The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear (2012)
*WINNER* Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary
Georgian with English subtitles, Georgia/Germany, World Documentary

The story begins with an experiment. A filmmaker in the country of Georgia posts an ad inviting youth to audition for her film. Facing the camera, the hopefuls confess their struggles and dreams. These raw interviews unfold seamlessly into cinematic slivers of Georgian life. A teenager awaits news of his father’s surgery. A girl anticipates her wedding. The governor of a tiny village faces a monumental decision. A soldier attempts to link his imprisoned brother to the world outside, and a young woman confronts the mother who abandoned her. These threads form a fluid Altman-esque collage of characters—and a nation—teetering on the brink of change. It’s a world where tradition and modernity subtly intermingle: singing traditional ballads is as common a self-expression as listening to hip-hop or playing online poker.

Mixing metanarrative with heightened visual aesthetics, The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear intuitively penetrates individual lives to conjure a richly layered, indelible portrait of a society, brilliantly becoming more than the sum of its parts.

People who added this item 1  Average listal rating (1 ratings) 8  IMDB Rating 7.7 
49. The Moo Man (2013)
United Kingdom, World Documentary

In the bucolic English countryside, Stephen Hook runs the family dairy farm, Hook and Son, a lo-fi anomaly resisting a hi-fi world. Farming is a hard life and an even harder business, but Stephen and his family make it work by staying small and offering services like home delivery. And it’s not just a profession for Stephen: each cow has a name and is lovingly cared for, especially the farm’s resident “cover girl,” Ida. It becomes quite clear that Stephen’s unconventional and heartwarming friendship with his herd is what really enables the farm to survive.

Director Andy Heathcote and codirector Heike Bachelier offer a glimpse of an endangered way of life. Their quiet and subdued approach allows their subjects—both human and bovine—to captivate and charm the audience. In this age when life seemingly rushes by at breakneck speed, it’s nice to see that some people can still sustain a simpler existence.

People who added this item 15  Average listal rating (9 ratings) 6.9  IMDB Rating
50. Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer (2013)
*WINNER* World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Punk Spirit
Russian with English subtitles, Russian Federation/United Kingdom, World Documentary

In the winter of 2011, after a controversial election, Vladimir Putin was reinstalled as president of Russia. In response, hundreds of thousands of citizens rose up all over the country to challenge the legitimacy of Putin’s rule. Among them were a group of young, radical-feminist punk rockers, better known as Pussy Riot. Wearing colored balaclavas, tights, and summer dresses, they entered Moscow’s most venerated cathedral and dared to sing “Mother Mary, Banish Putin!” Now they have become victims of a “show” trial.

British filmmaker Mike Lerner and Russian Maxim Pozdorovkin collaborate to chronicle the way one small act of protest captured a nation’s attention and grew to become an international story of human-rights abuse. Putting a personal face on a rebellion, they track three bewildered women who are imprisoned by jail bars and cameras but prepared to defend their actions no matter what it may cost them. This film tells their epic story.


 


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