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What’s Up Doc?: Latest from Psihoyos & Ross Bros. Lead Sundance Charge (December 2014)

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What’s Up Doc?: Latest from Psihoyos & Ross Bros. Lead Sundance Charge (December 2014)

The holidays are winding down and that means we at IONCINEMA.com are gearing up for our annual pilgrimage to Park City where an A-list of documentaries is now set to premiere. Earlier this month Tabitha Jackson and the Sundance doc programming team let the cats out of the bag, unsurprisingly announcing much anticipated US Doc Competition titles such as the Ross Brothers’ Western, Louie Psihoyos’ Racing Extinction, Marc Silver’s 3 1/2 Minutes and Lyric Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe’s (T)ERROR, along with some surprises like Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel’s bizarro Kickstarted doc Finders Keepers (see trailer below). Having been produced by the fine folks behind The King of Kong and Undefeated, the film bears all the markings of its well regarded pedigree, yet appears to be of even odder ilk, following the story that unfolded when a severed human foot was discovered in a grill bought at a North Carolina auction.

In the slew of Sundance announcements was the World Doc Competition lineup, which includes cinema-centric films Sembene! by Samba Gadjigo and Jason Silverman, profiling the beloved African director of its namesake, Listen to Me Marlon by Stevan Riley, which sketches a portrait of Marlon Brando using his own personal archive of photos and audio recordings, and Ilinca Calugareanu’s Chuck Norris vs Communism (see trailer below), a doc that sees the power of film change Nicolae Ceaușescu’s Romania through smuggled VHS American muscle. Having failed to raise the remainder of the funds needed to finish the film back in May of last year through an IndieGoGo campaign, it was unclear whether Calugareanu’s feature debut would come to fruition or not, but judging by the production shoot photos, the film looks to be a humanistic bit of B-movie goodness that revels in recreation and first person accounts (see filmmaker Adrian Sitaru among the talking heads).

Strikingly absent from the Sundance lineup altogether is Steve Hoover’s Crocodile Gennadiy, which by all accounts seemed primed for a Park City premiere. Trying to fill its shoes with a Russian veil of secrecy as its narrative tapestry, Chad Gracia’s The Russian Woodpecker (see still below) seems to be its locale based replacement. Following eccentric Ukrainian artist Fedor Alexandrovich as he outlines the Russian/Ukrainian conflict while becoming obsessively paranoid about a secret Cold War weapon hidden near the Chernobyl site, the film is constructed as a wild delusional thriller that bears truth in its paranoia via on the ground documentation of the protests and riots in Kyiv and beyond.

Chad Gracia's The Russian Woodpecker

Along with appetite piquing competition titles are a hefty grouping of heavy hitters, including Alex Gibney’s Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Kirby Dick’s The Hunting Ground, Brett Morgen’s Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, as well as surprises like Liz Garbus’s Netflix property What Happened, Miss Simone? (see still at top), Rodney Ascher’s follow-up to Room 237, a sleep paralysis doc titled The Nightmare and Andrew Jarecki’s long-awaited return to non-fiction with The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, which sees the filmmaker also revisiting the subject he fictionalized in 2010’s All Good Things. Oddly, after the real life Durst saw Ryan Gosling portray him in Jarecki’s film, he contacted the director wanting to expose the mysterious truth behind the three murders he was accused of. Jarecki’s first documentary since his much lauded Capturing the Friedmans will run as a 6 part HBO series in 2015, but it will have its first chapter premiere initially as part of the Sundance Special Events sidebar.

As mentioned previously, for those attached to any of the docs mentioned below — please feel free to share any updates on the status of your projects. I can be reached at jordan [at] ioncinema dot com. Here is my most anticipated Top 50 docs in the pipeline.

#
Film Title 
Filmmaker(s)
Producer(s) 
Status
Last Month’s Ranking
1
Racing Extinction
Louie Psihoyos
Olivia Ahnemann & Fisher Stevens
Sundance Preem
⬆ #2
2
Western
Bill Ross and Turner Ross
Michael Gottwald, Bill Ross, Turner Ross
Sundance Preem
⬆ #3
3
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Liz Garbus
Amy Hobby, Liz Garbus, Justin Wilkes, Jayson Jackson
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
4
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst
Andrew Jarecki
Marc Smerling, Andrew Jarecki
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
5
The Hunting Ground
Kirby Dick
Amy Ziering
Sundance Preem
⬆ #6
6
Finders Keepers
Bryan Carberry & Clay Tweel
Ed Cunningham, Seth Gordon, Adam Gibbs, Bryan Carberry
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
7
(T)ERROR
Lyric Cabral & David Felix Sutcliffe
Christopher St. John
Sundance Preem
⬆ #8
8
Welcome To Leith
Michael Beach Nichols, Christopher K. Walker
Michael Beach Nichols, Christopher K. Walker, Jenner Furst, Joey Carey, Joshua Woltermann
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
9
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
Alex Gibney
Lawrence Wright, Kristen Vaurio, Alex Gibney
Sundance Preem
⬆ #32
10
Being Evel
Daniel Junge
Johnny Knoxville, Jeff Tremaine, Mat Hoffman, Brendan Kiernan, Justin Moore-Lewy, Daniel Junge
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
11
Crocodile Gennadiy
Steve Hoover
Danny Yourd
In Post
⬇#1
12
The Nightmare
Rodney Ascher
Ross Dinerstein, Glen Zipper
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
13
Larry Kramer in Love and Anger
Jean Carlomusto
Ellin Baumel, Jean Carlomusto, Shanti Avirgan
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
14
Listen To Me Brando
Stevan Riley
John Battsek, RJ Cutler, George Chignell
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
15
The Visit
Michael Madsen
Lise Lense-Møller
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
16
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck
Brett Morgen
Sara Bernstein, Sheila Nevins, Frances Bean Cobain, Danielle Renfrew Behrens, Larry Mestel and David Byrnes. David Morrison
Sundance Preem
⬆ #40
17
Untitled Jackson Heights, Queens Project
Frederick Wiseman
TBD
Editing
 ⬄ #17
18
The Amina Profile
Sophie Deraspe
Isabelle Couture, Nathalie Cloutier
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
19
Misery Loves Comedy
Kevin Pollak
Burton Ritchie
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
20
Unlocking The Cage
DA Pennebaker & Chris Hagedus
DA Pennebaker & Chris Hagedus
In Production
⬇#4
21
Prophet’s Prey
Amy Berg
Erica Huggins, Katherine Leblond, Sam Brower
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
22
Chuck Norris vs Communism
Ilinca Calugareanu
Mara Adina
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
23
Hitchcock/Truffaut
Kent Jones
TBD
In Production
⬇#5
24
The Wolfpack
Crystal Moselle
Izabella Tzenkova, Crystal Moselle, Hunter Gray, Alex Orlovsky
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
25
The Russian Woodpecker
Chad Gracia
Mike Lerner, Ram Devineni
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
26
Tig
Kristina Goolsby, Ashley York
Huy Truong
Sundance Preem
#36
27
 Dreamcatcher
Kim Longinotto
Teddy Leifer
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
28
I Am Belfast
Mark Cousins
TBD
In Post
⬇#7
29
Best of Enemies
Morgan Neville & Robert Gordon
Robert Gordon, Morgan Neville
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
30
3 1/2 Minutes
Marc Silver
Carolyn Hepburn, Minette Nelson
Sundance Preem
⬇ #24
31
The Reagan Years
Pacho Velez
TBD
Announced
⭑ New!
32
Sembene!
Samba Gadjigo & Jason Silverman
Samba Gadjigo, Jason Silverman
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
33
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon
Douglas Tirola
Susan Bedusa, Douglas Tirola
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
34
Censored Voices
Mor Loushy
Daniel Sivan, Hilla Medalia, Neta Zwebner
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
35
Beaver Trilogy Part IV
Brad Besser
Kelly Williams, Jonathan Duffy, Don Swaynos, Brad Besser
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
36
Untitled Bill Clinton Documentary
Martin Scorsese
Steve Bing
In Post
⬇#9
37
Most Likely To Succeed
Greg Whiteley
Greg Whiteley
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
38
Untitled Malala Yousafzai Project
Davis Guggenheim
Laurie MacDonald, Walter F. Parkes
Filming
⬇#10
39
Jia Zhang-ke by Walter Salles
Walter Salles
TBD
In Post
⭑ New!
40
Untitled Frank Sinatra Portrait
Alex Gibney
Nancy Sinatra, Jeff Pollack
Pre-Production
⬇#12
41
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
Stanley Nelson
Stanley Nelson, Laurens Grant
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
42
Diamond, Silver and Gold
Jason Kohn
Jared I. Goldman, Amanda Branson Gill
In Production
⬇#13
43
Sarah
Tracy Droz Tragos
Tracy Droz Tragos
Financing
⭑ New!
44
Untitled Ken Loach Bio-doc
Jim Loach
TBD
Announced
⭑ New!
45
The Mask You Live In
Jennifer Siebel Newsom
TBD
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
46
Cartel Land
Matthew Heineman
Matthew Heineman, Tom Yellin
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
47
Dear John Grierson: A Postscript to The Story of Film
Mark Cousins
TBD
Announced
⬇#15
48
Meru
Jimmy Chin & E. Chai Vasarhelyi
E. Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Shannon Ethridge
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
49
A Better Man
Attiya Khan & Lawrence Jackman
Sarah Polley – exec producer, Christine Kleckner
Filming
⬇#19
50
Untitled Grateful Dead Doc
Amir Bar-Lev
Martin Scorsese, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Andrew Heller, Sanford Heller, and Rick Yorn
Unknown
⬇#14

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