A pair of high profile cinematic biopics lead the World Documentary Competition slate for the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, which was announced on Wednesday (December 3) afternoon.
Actually, leading off for the World Documentary Competition is “How To Change The World,” one of four Day One films playing when Sundance opens on January 22, 2015. Directed by Jerry Rothwell, “How To Change The World” focuses on the original founders of Greenpeace and their 1971 protest in a nuclear test zone.
But at a festival for film-lovers, expect ample attention to be paid to Stevan Riley's “Listen to Me Marlon,” which uses Marlon Brando's previously unheard audio archives to tell the “Godfather” star's story both on-screen and off. And true cinephiles will be intrigued by “Sembene!,” Samba Gadjigo and Jason Silverman's look at Ousmane Sembene, often called The Father of African Cinema.
Sadly, “Chuck Norris vs Communism” isn't a Chuck Norris biopic, but Ilinca Calugareanu's film may be something more interesting, the portrait of a VHS pirate and female translator who smuggled Western films through the Iron Curtain in 1980s Romania.
There are other intriguing single-subject docs with an international focus, including Kim Longinotto's “Dreamcatcher,” focusing on teen prostitute turned survivor advocate Brenda Byers Powell, Chad Garcia's Chernobyl survivor doc “The Russian Woodpecker” and Hao Zhou's “The Chinese Mayor,” about Datong, China's mayor Geng Yanbo, a clean energy advocate.
Documentaries about the Middle East have owned Sundance in recent years, with this year's representatives including Mor Loushy's “Censored Voices,” exposing long-buried interviews with soldiers from 1967's Six-Day War recorded by Amos Oz and Avraham Shapira, and Sophie Deraspe's “The Amina Profile,” a love story-turned-thriller set against the backdrop of the Arab revolution.
And because there is no Interstellar Documentary Competition at Sundance, Michael Madsen's [No, not that Michael Madsen] “The Visit” features access to United Nations' Office for Outer Space Affairs.
Check out more World Doc competitors below…
The Sundance Film Festival runs from January 22 through February 1 in Park City Utah. HitFix will be there.
Here's a handy listing of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival World Documentary Competition Slate:
The Amina Profile / Canada (Director: Sophie Deraspe) – During the Arab revolution, a love story between two women – a Canadian and a Syrian American – turns into an international sociopolitical thriller spotlighting media excesses and the thin line between truth and falsehood on the Internet. World Premiere
Censored Voices / Israel, Germany (Director: Mor Loushy) – One week after the 1967 Six-Day War, renowned author Amos Oz and editor Avraham Shapira recorded intimate conversations with soldiers returning from the battlefield. The Israeli army censored the recordings, allowing only a fragment of the conversations to be published. Censored Voices reveals these recordings for the first time. World Premiere
The Chinese Mayor / China (Director: Hao Zhou) – Mayor Geng Yanbo is determined to transform the coal-mining center of Datong, in China”s Shanxi province, into a tourism haven showcasing clean energy. In order to achieve that, however, he has to relocate 500,000 residences to make way for the restoration of the ancient city. World Premiere
Chuck Norris vs Communism / United Kingdom, Romania, Germany (Director: Ilinca Calugareanu) – In 1980s Romania, thousands of Western films smashed through the Iron Curtain, opening a window to the free world for those who dared to look. A black market VHS racketeer and courageous female translator brought the magic of film to the masses and sowed the seeds of a revolution. World Premiere
Dark Horse / United Kingdom (Director: Louise Osmond) – Dark Horse is the inspirational true story of a group of friends from a workingman's club who decide to take on the elite “sport of kings” and breed themselves a racehorse. World Premiere
Dreamcatcher / United Kingdom (Director: Kim Longinotto) – Dreamcatcher takes us into a hidden world seen through the eyes of one of its survivors, Brenda Myers-Powell. A former teenage prostitute, Brenda defied the odds to become a powerful advocate for change in her community. With warmth and humor, Brenda gives hope to those who have none. World Premiere
How to Change the World / United Kingdom, Canada (Director: Jerry Rothwell) – In 1971, a group of friends sails into a nuclear test zone, and their protest captures the world”s imagination. Using rare, archival footage that brings their extraordinary world to life, How to Change the World is the story of the pioneers who founded Greenpeace and defined the modern green movement. World Premiere. DAY ONE FILM
Listen to Me Marlon / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Stevan Riley, Co-writer: Peter Ettedgui) – With exclusive access to previously unheard audio archives, this is the definitive Marlon Brando cinema documentary. Charting his exceptional career and extraordinary life away from the stage and screen, the film fully explores the complexities of the man by telling the story uniquely in Marlon”s own voice. World Premiere
Pervert Park / Sweden, Denmark (Directors: Frida Barkfors, Lasse Barkfors) – Pervert Park follows the everyday lives of sex offenders in a Florida trailer park as they struggle to reintegrate into society, and try to understand who they are and how to break the cycle of sex crimes being committed. International Premiere
The Russian Woodpecker / United Kingdom (Director: Chad Gracia) – A Ukrainian victim of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster discovers a dark secret and must decide whether to risk his life by revealing it, amid growing clouds of revolution and war. World Premiere
Sembene! / U.S.A., Senegal (Directors: Samba Gadjigo, Jason Silverman) – In 1952, Ousmane Sembene, a Senegalese dockworker and fifth-grade dropout, began dreaming an impossible dream: to become the storyteller for a new Africa. This true story celebrates how the “father of African cinema,” against enormous odds, fought a monumental, 50-year-long battle to give Africans a voice. World Premiere
The Visit / Denmark, Austria, Ireland, Finland, Norway (Director: Michael Madsen) – “This film documents an event that has never taken place…” With unprecedented access to the United Nations' Office for Outer Space Affairs, leading space scientists and space agencies, The Visit explores humans' first encounter with alien intelligent life and thereby humanity itself. “Our scenario begins with the arrival. Your arrival.” World Premiere