Sundance Film Festival

Sundance documentaries get no love


An image from Andrew Rossi’s Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times

One thing that has been nagging us as we consider this year’s Sundance, now that we have time to gather a bit of perspective, is this: for all the talk of movie deals; and all the hooplah made over more commercial-minded films like My Idiot Brother, which, though a very good film, and a very fun film, is not by no measure a great film; why was there so little discussion about the documentary entries at the festival? A category, which in our humble estimation, was exceedingly superior to the feature film category.

The L.A. Times’ Kenneth Turan seems to agree, and in his latest column points out the perversity of how “hardly any (documentaries) were acquired for theatrical release,” despite the fact that “the quality was sky high.”

Saturday night’s awards ceremony shone the spotlight on a handful of those sky-high quality docs: How To Die In Oregon, and Hell and Back Again, which took home Grand Jury prizes; and Senna and Buck, the two audience award winners.

But what about the many other wonderful documentaries we had the pleasure of seeing: James Marsh’s strangely affecting Project Nim? Liz Garbus’ superb Bobby Fischer Against the World? Andrew Rossi’s Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times? Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato’s Becoming Chaz? Eugene Jarecki’s Reagan? And who didn’t enjoy Morgan Spurlock’s The Greatest Movie Ever Sold?

There are even more. Here’s hoping they get the attention they deserve on their post-Sundance journeys.

For more of Nicole’s dispatches at the Sundance Film Festival see her blog on The Daily Beast.