Sundance Adds Short Docs, New Hillary Clinton Film

Now Is the Time
Courtesy of the NFB


By Pat Mullen

More docs are heading to Park City with the latest addition to the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. The indie fest dropped more titles in its latest programming announcement today. The list includes short films, special events, and episodic programming. Canadian short docs tapped for the announcement include Christopher Auchter’s NFB film Now Is the Time, Lisa Jackson’s Lichen, and Charlie Tyrell’s Broken Orchestra.

Other notable additions to the line-up include Nanette Burstein’s Hillary about the Presidential hopeful and her 2016 campaign. The Special Events series also includes new docs from Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, Alexandre O. Phillippe, and Matthew Heineman.

The list of new additions to Sundance are as follows:

SPECIAL EVENTS

Hillary / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Nanette Burstein) — A portrait of a public woman, interweaving moments from never-before-seen 2016 campaign footage with biographical chapters of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s life. Featuring exclusive interviews with Hillary herself, Bill Clinton, friends, and journalists, an examination of how she became simultaneously one of the most admired and vilified women in the world. World Premiere

LANCE / U.S.A. (Director: Marina Zenovich, Producers: Marina Zenovich, P.G. Morgan) — This deeply personal examination of one of the world’s most controversial figures examines a man who’s both winner and loser, saint and sinner. With unprecedented access to Lance’s world, this psychological portrait is a powerful study of that 21st century phenomenon: the celebrity who falls spectacularly and publicly from grace. World Premiere

Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on the Exorcist / U.S.A., Spain (Director: Alexandre O. Philippe, Producer: Kerry Deignan Roy) — A lyrical and spiritual cinematic essay on The Exorcist, and an exploration of the uncharted depths of William Friedkin’s mind’s eye, the nuances of his filmmaking process, and the mysteries of faith and fate that have shaped his life and filmography. Cast: William Friedkin. North American Premiere

Love Fraud / U.S.A. (Directors: Rachel Grady, Heidi Ewing, Executive Producer: Vinnie Malhotra, Amy Goodman Kass, Rachel Grady, Heidi Ewing) — Bigamy. Identity theft. Fraud. For the last 20 years Richard Scott Smith has used the internet and his dubious charms to prey upon unsuspecting women in search of love–conning them out of their money and dignity. But now his victims ban together and seek sweet revenge. World Premiere

Max Richter’s Sleep / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Natalie Johns) — Following the composer as he navigates an ambitious performance of his acclaimed 8-hour opus. Centring around an open air concert in Los Angeles, alongside footage from Berlin, Sydney and Paris, we are plunged deep into the life and process of both the artist and his creative partner Yulia Mahr. North American Premiere

McMillions / U.S.A. (Directors: James Lee Hernandez, Brian Lazarte, Executive Producers: Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, Archie Gips) — McMillions is the definitive, real-life account of the McDonald’s Monopoly game scam, which defrauded the American public throughout the 1990s, as told by the “prize winners,” criminals, government officials, and FBI agents, whom eventually took the crime ring down. World Premiere

Siempre, Luis / U.S.A. (Director: John James, Executive Producer: Michael Stolper) — Follow one single-minded immigrant’s improbable journey from Puerto Rico to the halls of power. Witness Luis Miranda’s unflappable idealism as he battles his health, mobilizes the mainland Latinx community, matches wits with his youngest child applying to college and brings Hamilton to his island home, all in twelve months. Cast: Luis Miranda, Lin-Manuel Miranda. World Premiere

The Trade / U.S.A. (Director: Matthew Heineman, Executive Producers: Pagan Harleman, Matthew Heineman, Vinnie Malhotra, Joedan Okun) — A deeply personal and intimate portrait of human smuggling, sex trafficking, and the struggle to survive the migrant cycle between Central America and the United States. World Premiere

We Are Freestyle Love Supreme / U.S.A. (Director: Andrew Fried, Producers: Sarina Roma, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Jill Furman, Jon Steingart, Jenny Steingart) — Follow the 15-year journey of the founding members of the improv hip-hop group Freestyle Love Supreme, as they reflect upon why this show remains such an important piece of their personal, creative, and professional history–from the basement of the Drama Bookshop in NYC to the Broadway stage. Cast: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Anthony Veneziale, Christopher Jackson, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Chris Sullivan. World Premiere

DOCUMENTARY SHORTS

Abortion Helpline, This Is Lisa / U.S.A. (Directors: Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, Mike Attie) — At a Philadelphia abortion helpline, counselors answer nonstop calls from women who seek to end a pregnancy but can’t afford to. In this documentary we learn how economic stigma and cruel legislation determine who has access to abortion.

All That Perishes at the Edge of Land / Pakistan (Director: Hira Nabi, Screenwriters: Hira Nabi, Qurratulain Hyder) — A ship berthed at Gadani and the shipbreakers coming from all over Pakistan to break it discover that they might have more in common than otherwise imagined when they enter into a conversation.

Bereka / U.S.A., Ethiopia (Director and screenwriter: Nesanet Teshager Abegaze) — A family history archive as told by matriarch Azalu Mekonnen and her granddaughter Samira Hooks. Shot on Super 8 film in Los Angeles and Gondar, Ethiopia, capturing the Ethiopian coffee ceremony and explores migration, memory and rebirth.

Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business / U.S.A. (Director: Christine Turner) — At age 93, there’s no stopping the legendary artist Betye Saar. World Premiere

Broken Orchestra / Canada, U.S.A. (Director: Charlie Tyrell) — The Symphony for a Broken Orchestra project collected hundreds of broken instruments from the Philadelphia public school system, fixed them and then returned them into the hands of students.

Character / U.S.A. (Director: Vera Brunner-Sung) — Actor Mark Metcalf made his reputation in Hollywood playing aggrieved authority figures. Now in his 70s, he takes a look back on his career in this meditation on power, privilege, and the perils of being a “type.” World Premiere

Church and the Fourth Estate / U.S.A. (Director: Brian Knappenberger) — A reporter uncovers a file that reveals a shocking series of child abuse allegations in Idaho’s Boy Scouts, which rattle the community and implicate the Mormon church. The story reveals long-running crimes that threaten to bankrupt the Boy Scouts. World Premiere

The Deepest Hole / U.S.A. (Director: Matt McCormick) — While the space and arms races are Cold War common knowledge, few know about the United States and Soviet Union’s race to dig the deepest hole. This is particularly surprising since Hell may have been inadvertently discovered in the process. World Premiere

Día de la Madre / U.S.A. (Directors: Ashley Brandon, Dennis Höhne) — A band of juveniles embark on a 24-hour spree of breaking into houses and causing a ruckus. World Premiere

Do Not Split / U.S.A., Norway (Director: Anders Hammer) — The story of the 2019 Hong Kong protests, told through a series of demonstrations by local protestors that escalate into conflict when highly armed police appear on the scene. World Premiere

E-Ticket / Hong Kong, U.S.A. (Director: Simon Liu) — A frantic (re)cataloguing of a personal archive and 16,000 splices in the making. 35mm frames are obsessively rearranged in evolving-disorienting patterns, as a Dante’s Inferno for the streaming age emerges, illustrating freedom of movement for the modern cloud.

Guisado on Sunset / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Terence Nance) — Missed connection regret at that one late-night spot–the kind you keep playing back in your head but not quite ever remembering right, until it starts to look like something else. International Premiere

John Was Trying to Contact Aliens / U.S.A. (Director: Matthew Killip) — John Shepherd spent 30 years trying to contact extraterrestrials by broadcasting music millions of miles into space. After giving up the search he makes a different connection here on earth. World Premiere. DAY ONE

Junior Bangers / United Kingdom (Director: Danny Lee) — In England, banger racing isn’t just a sport, but a way of life. Join 11-year-olds Finn and Harley on a cold winter race day in Birmingham. North American Premiere

Lichen / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Lisa Jackson) — An otherworldly deep dive into the hidden beauty of lichens, asking what we might learn from them. Ancient and diverse, thriving in adversity, confounding scientists to this day, lichen is a model of emergence. International Premiere

A Love Song for Latasha / U.S.A. (Director: Sophia Nahli Allison) — A dreamlike archive in conversation with the past and the present to reimagine a more nuanced narrative of Latasha Harlins by excavating intimate and poetic memories shared by her cousin and best friend.

Narcissister Breast Work / U.S.A. (Director: Narcissister) — Focusing on the exercise by women of their right to bare their breasts in public, this film is an investigation into how prohibitions on female toplessness are grounded in fear of, and desire to control, the female body. World Premiere

Now Is the Time / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Christopher Auchter) — On the 50th anniversary of the first new totem pole raising on British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii in almost a century, we revisit the day that would signal the rebirth of the Haida spirit.

See You Next Time / U.S.A. (Director: Crystal Kayiza) — A window into the intimate moments shared across a nail salon table between a Chinese nail artist and her black client in Brooklyn, NY.

The Shawl / U.S.A. (Director: Sara Kiener) After years of long distance, a pair of big and beautiful boyfriends celebrate their reunion at a Stevie Nicks concert, where they share a brush with magic. World Premiere

The Starr Sisters / U.S.A. (Directors: Beth Einhorn, Bridey Elliott) — Patte and Randa Starr are fun specialists. After overcoming a dark past, these sisters are inseparable. Now in their 70s, they do exactly as they please and their candy drawer is always fully stocked.

While I’m Still Breathing (Tandis Que Je Respire Encore) / France (Directors: Laure Giappiconi, Elisa Monteil, La Fille Renne, Screenwriter: Laure Giappiconi) — The blurred portrayal of a young woman as she moves through three steps of her sexuality. North American Premiere

INDIE EPISODIC

Awkward Family Photos / U.S.A. (Director: William Kirkley, Executive Producers: Mike Bender, Doug Chernack, William Kirkley, Paris Kassidokostas-Latsis, Terry Dougas, Jean-Luc De Fanti) — A hilarious, odd, and heartfelt exploration of the imperfect family experience. The families behind some of the most viral photos from the archives of AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com tell their unique stories and reunite to recreate their original photos, forcing them to reconcile their past and celebrate their awkwardness. World Premiere

City So Real / U.S.A. (Director: Steve James) — An impressionistic mosaic portrait of current-day Chicago which delivers a deep, multifaceted look into the soul of America’s third-largest city, set against the backdrop of its history-making 2019 mayoral campaign. World Premiere

Untitled Pizza Movie / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: David Shapiro) — How do you remember somebody in a disposable world? Weaving an abandoned film about pizza (NYC in the early 90s), a stunning, physical archive (thousands of objects) with a remarkable triple portrait, this series traces three lives over thirty years, three continents, and the faultlines of class, dreams, and memory. World Premiere