Sundance Film Fest 2017: World Cinema Documentary Competition

World Cinema Documentary Competition

The 12 films are world premieres unless otherwise specified.

“The Good Postman”

Finland-Bulgaria / Director: Tonislav Hristov

In a small Bulgarian village troubled by the ongoing refugee crisis, a local postman runs for mayor — and learns that even minor deeds can outweigh good intentions. North American Premiere

“In Loco Parentis”

Ireland-Spain / Directors: Neasa Ní Chianáin, David Rane

John and Amanda teach Latin, English, and guitar at a fantastical, stately home-turned-school. Nearly 50-year careers are drawing to a close for the pair, who have become legends with the mantra: “Reading! ’Rithmetic! Rock ’n’ roll!” But for pupil and teacher alike, leaving is the hardest lesson. North American Premiere

“It’s Not Yet Dark” (Ireland / Director: Frankie Fenton

This is the incredible story of Simon Fitzmaurice, a young filmmaker who becomes completely paralyzed from motor neurone disease but goes on to direct an award-winning feature film through the use of his eyes. International Premiere

“Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower”

U.S. / Director: Joe Piscatella

When the Chinese Communist Party backtracks on its promise of autonomy to Hong Kong, teenager Joshua Wong decides to save his city. Rallying thousands of kids to skip school and occupy the streets, Joshua becomes an unlikely leader in Hong Kong and one of China’s most notorious dissidents.

“Last Men in Aleppo”

Denmark / Directors: Feras Fayyad, Steen Johannessen)

After five years of war in Syria, Aleppo’s remaining residents prepare themselves for a siege. Khalid, Subhi, and Mahmoud, founding members of The White Helmets, have remained in the city to help their fellow citizens — and experience daily life, death, struggle, and triumph in a city under fire.

“Machines”

India-Germany-Finland / Director: Rahul Jain

This intimate, observant portrayal of the rhythm of life and work in a gigantic textile factory in Gujarat, India, moves through the corridors and bowels of the enormously disorienting structure — taking the viewer on a journey of dehumanizing physical labor and intense hardship. North American Premiere. (New Climate)

“Motherland”

U.S.-Philippines / Director: Ramona Diaz

The planet’s busiest maternity hospital is located in one of its poorest and most populous countries: the Philippines. There, poor women face devastating consequences as their country struggles with reproductive health policy and the politics of conservative Catholic ideologies.

“Plastic China” (China / Director: Jiu-liang Wang)

Yi-Jie, an 11-year-old girl, works alongside her parents in a recycling facility while dreaming of attending school. Kun, the facility’s ambitious foreman, dreams of a better life. Through the eyes and hands of those who handle its refuse comes an examination of global consumption and culture. International Premiere. (New Climate)

“Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World”

Canada / Director: Catherine Bainbridge

This powerful documentary about the role of Native Americans in contemporary music history — featuring some of the greatest music stars of our time — exposes a critical missing chapter, revealing how indigenous musicians helped shape the soundtracks of our lives and, through their contributions, influenced popular culture.

“Tokyo Idols”

U.K.-Canada / Director: Kyoko Miyake

This exploration of Japan’s fascination with girl bands and their music follows an aspiring pop singer and her fans, delving into the cultural obsession with young female sexuality and the growing disconnect between men and women in hypermodern societies.

“Winnie”

France / Director: Pascale Lamche

While her husband served a life sentence, paradoxically kept safe and morally uncontaminated, Winnie Mandela rode the raw violence of apartheid, fighting on the front line and underground. This is the untold story of the mysterious forces that combined to take her down, labeling him a saint, her a sinner.

“The Workers Cup”

U.K. / Director: Adam Sobel

Inside Qatar’s labor camps, African and Asian migrant workers building the facilities of the 2022 World Cup compete in a soccer tournament of their own.

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The 10 films in this section are world premieres and from the U.S.

“Columbus” (Director and screenwriter: Kogonada) Casey lives with her mother in a little-known Midwestern town haunted by the promise of modernism. Jin, a visitor from the other side of the world, attends to his dying father. Burdened by the future, they find respite in one another and the architecture that surrounds them. Cast: John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson, Parker Posey, Rory Culkin, Michelle Forbes.

“Dayveon” (Director: Amman Abbasi, Screenwriters: Amman Abbasi, Steven Reneau) — In the wake of his older brother’s death, 13-year-old Dayveon spends the sweltering summer days roaming his rural Arkansas town. When he falls in with a local gang, he becomes drawn to the camaraderie and violence of their world. Cast: Devin Blackmon, Kordell “KD” Johnson, Dontrell Bright, Chasity Moore, Lachion Buckingham, Marquell Manning. World Premiere.

“Deidra & Laney Rob a Train” (Director: Sydney Freeland, Screenwriter: Shelby Farrell) — Two teenage sisters start robbing trains to make ends meet after their single mother’s emotional meltdown in an electronics store lands her in jail. Cast: Ashleigh Murray, Rachel Crow, Tim Blake Nelson, David Sullivan, Danielle Nicolet, Sasheer Zamata.

“A Ghost Story” (Director and screenwriter: David Lowery) — This is the tale of a ghost and the house he haunts. Cast: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, Will Oldham, Sonia Acevedo, Rob Zabrecky, Liz Franke.

“Gook” (Director and screenwriter: Justin Chon) — Eli and Daniel, two Korean American brothers who own a struggling women’s shoe store, have an unlikely friendship with 11-year-old Kamilla. On the first day of the 1992 L.A. riots, the trio must defend their store — and contemplate the meaning of family, their personal dreams, and the future. Cast: Justin Chon, Simone Baker, David So, Curtiss Cook Jr., Sang Chon, Ben Munoz.

“L.A. Times” (Director and screenwriter: Michelle Morgan) — In this classically styled comedy of manners set in Los Angeles, sophisticated thirtysomethings try to determine whether ideal happiness exists in coupledom or if the perfectly suited couple is actually just an urban myth. Cast: Michelle Morgan, Dree Hemingway, Jorma Taccone, Kentucker Audley, Margarita Levieva, Adam Shapiro.

“Lemon” (Director: Janicza Bravo, Screenwriters: Bravo, Brett Gelman) — A man watches his life unravel after he is left by his blind girlfriend. Cast: Brett Gelman, Judy Greer, Michael Cera, Nia Long, Shiri Appleby, Fred Melamed.

“Menashe” (Director: Joshua Z Weinstein, Screenwriters: Weinstein, Alex Lipschultz, Musa Syeed) — Within Brooklyn’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community, a widower battles for custody of his son. A tender drama performed entirely in Yiddish, the film intimately explores the nature of faith and the price of parenthood. Cast: Menashe Lustig.

“Person to Person” (Director and screenwriter: Dustin Guy Defa) — A record collector hustles for a big score while his heartbroken roommate tries to erase a terrible mistake, a teenager bears witness to her best friend’s new relationship, and a rookie reporter, alongside her demanding supervisor, chases the clues of a murder case involving a life-weary clock shop owner. Cast: Abbi Jacobson, Michael Cera, Tavi Gevinson, Philip Baker Hall, Bene Coopersmith, George Sample III.

“Thoroughbred” (Director and screenwriter: Cory Finley) — Two teenage girls in suburban Connecticut rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. In the process, they learn that neither is what she seems to be — and that a murder might solve both of their problems. Cast: Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks, Francie Swift, Kaili Vernoff.