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Sundance ’18: Pozdorovkin, Mor Loushy, Sandi Tan & M.I.A. Pack the World Cinema Docu Comp

Last year’s dozen selections included Rahul Jain’s Machines (World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award), Adam Sobel’s The Workers Cup and Feras Fayyad’s searing World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary winning Last Men in Aleppo. This year, we welcome the return to Park City of filmmakers Maxim Pozdorovkin (The Notorious Mr. Bout – 2014 – check out our interview) and Mor Loushy (Censored Voices – 2015), our accurately predicted and highly anticipated Shirkers by Sandi Tan (actress Maya Rudolph is a producer), and the infamous M.I.A. documentary film that was in montage hell and which officially goes by the title: MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. Here are the twelve items.

A Polar Year / France (Director: Samuel Collardey, Screenwriters: Samuel Collardey, Catherine Paillé, Producer: Grégoire Debailly) — Anders leaves his native Denmark for a teaching position in rural Greenland. As soon as he arrives, he finds himself at odds with tightly-knit locals. Only through a clumsy and playful trial of errors can Anders shake his Euro-centric assumptions and embrace their snow-covered way of life. Cast: Anders Hvidegaard, Asser Boassen, Julius B. Nielsen, Tobias Ignatiussen, Thomasine Jonathansen, Gert Jonathansen. World Premiere

Anote’s Ark / Canada (Director: Matthieu Rytz, Producers: Bob Moore, Mila Aung-Thwin, Daniel Cross, Shari Plummer, Shannon Joy) — How does a nation survive being swallowed by the sea? Kiribati, on a low-lying Pacific atoll, will disappear within decades due to rising sea levels, population growth, and climate change. This exploration of how to migrate an entire nation with dignity interweaves personal stories of survival and resilience. World Premiere. THE NEW CLIMATE

The Cleaners / Germany, Brazil (Directors: Moritz Riesewieck, Hans Block, Screenwriters: Moritz Riesewieck, Hans Block, Georg Tschurtschenthaler, Producers: Christian Beetz, Georg Tschurtschenthaler, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Fernando Dias, Mauricio Dias) — When you post something on the web, can you be sure it stays there? Enter a hidden shadow industry of digital cleaning, where the Internet rids itself of what it doesn’t like: violence, pornography and political content. Who is controlling what we see…and what we think? World Premiere

Genesis 2.0 / Switzerland (Directors: Christian Frei, Maxim Arbugaev, Producer: Christian Frei) — On the remote New Siberian Islands in the Arctic Ocean, hunters search for tusks of extinct mammoths. When they discover a surprisingly well-preserved mammoth carcass, its resurrection will be the first manifestation of the next great technological revolution: genetics. It may well turn our world upside down. World Premiere

MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. / Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, U.S.A. (Director: Stephen Loveridge, Producers: Lori Cheatle, Andrew Goldman, Paul Mezey) — Drawn from a never before seen cache of personal footage spanning decades, this is an intimate portrait of the Sri Lankan artist and musician who continues to shatter conventions. World Premiere

Of Fathers and Sons / Germany, Syria, Lebanon (Director: Talal Derki, Producers: Ansgar Frerich, Eva Kemme, Tobias N. Siebert, Hans Robert Eisenhauer) — Talal Derki returns to his homeland where he gains the trust of a radical Islamist family, sharing their daily life for over two years. His camera focuses on Osama and his younger brother Ayman, providing an extremely rare insight into what it means to grow up in an Islamic Caliphate. North American Premiere

The Oslo Diaries / Israel, Canada (Directors and screenwriters: Mor Loushy, Daniel Sivan, Producers: Hilla Medalia, Ina Fichman) — In 1992, Israeli-Palestinian relations reached an all time low. In an attempt to stop the bloodshed, a group of Israelis and Palestinians met illegally in Oslo. These meetings were never officially sanctioned and held in complete secrecy. They changed the Middle East forever. World Premiere

Our New President / Russia, U.S.A. (Director: Maxim Pozdorovkin, Producers: Maxim Pozdorovkin, Joe Bender) — The story of Donald Trump’s election told entirely through Russian propaganda. By turns horrifying and hilarious, the film is a satirical portrait of Russian media that reveals an empire of fake news and the tactics of modern-day information warfare. World Premiere. DAY ONE

Shirkers / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Sandi Tan, Producers: Sandi Tan, Jessica Levin, Maya Rudolph) — In 1992, teenager Sandi Tan shot Singapore’s first indie road movie with her enigmatic American mentor Georges – who then vanished with all the footage. Twenty years later, the 16mm film is recovered, sending Tan, now a novelist in Los Angeles, on a personal odyssey in search of Georges’ vanishing footprints. World Premiere

This is Home / U.S.A., Jordan (Director: Alexandra Shiva, Producer: Lindsey Megrue) This is an intimate portrait of four Syrian families arriving in Baltimore, Maryland and struggling to find their footing. With eight months to become self-sufficient, they must forge ahead to rebuild their lives. When the travel ban adds further complications, their strength and resilience are put to the test. World Premiere

Westwood / United Kingdom (Director: Lorna Tucker, Producers: Eleanor Emptage, Shirine Best, Nicole Stott, John Battsek) — Dame Vivienne Westwood: punk, icon, provocateur and one of the most influential originators in recent history. This is the first film to encompass the remarkable story of one of the true icons of our time, as she fights to maintain her brand’s integrity, her principles – and her legacy. World Premiere

A Woman Captured / Hungary (Director and screenwriter: Bernadett Tuza-Ritter, Producers: Julianna Ugrin, Viki Réka Kiss, Erik Winker, Martin Roelly) — A European woman has been kept by a family as a domestic slave for 10 years – one of over 45 million victims of modern-day slavery. Drawing courage from the filmmaker’s presence, she decides to escape the unbearable oppression and become a free person. North American Premiere

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist and critic at IONCINEMA.com (founded in 2000). Eric splits his time between his home base in Montreal, NYC, and is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member at the SXSW Film Festival. Top 3 from 2016: Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt), Things to Come (Mia Hansen-Løve), Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)

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