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2019 Sundance Film Festival: Lane’s Hail Satan, Wang’s One Child Nation and Tyrnauer’s Where’s My Roy Cohn? in U.S. Docu Comp

2019 Sundance Film Festival: Lane’s Hail Satan, Wang’s One Child Nation and Tyrnauer’s Where’s My Roy Cohn? in U.S. Docu Comp

Last year’s U.S. Documentary Competition gave us offerings such as mind blowing films such as Bisbee ’17, Minding the Gap, Three Identical Strangers and Hale County This Morning, This Evening. This year we have Penny Lane’s Hail Satan, Nanfu Wang & Jialing Zhang’s One Child Nation andMatt Tyrnauer’s Where’s My Roy Cohn? Here are the sixteen competing titles.

Always in Season / U.S.A. (Director: Jacqueline Olive) — When 17-year-old Lennon Lacy is found hanging from a swing set in rural North Carolina in 2014, his mother’s search for justice and reconciliation begins as the trauma of more than a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present. World Premiere

American Factory / U.S.A. (Directors: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, Producers: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, Jeff Reichert, Julie Parker Benello) — In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring two thousand blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America. World Premiere

APOLLO 11 / U.S.A. (Director: Todd Douglas Miller, Producers: Todd Douglas Miller, Thomas Petersen, Evan Krauss) — A purely archival reconstruction of humanity’s first trip to another world, featuring never-before-seen 70mm footage and never-before-heard audio from the mission. World Premiere

Bedlam / U.S.A. (Director: Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, Producers: Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, Peter Miller) — A psychiatrist makes rounds in ERs, jails, and homeless camps to tell the intimate stories behind one of the greatest social crises of our time. A personal and intense journey into the world of the seriously mentally ill. World Premiere

David Crosby: Remember My Name / U.S.A. (Director: A.J. Eaton, Producers: Cameron Crowe, Michele Farinola, Greg Mariotti) — You thought you knew him. Meet David Crosby now in this portrait of a man with everything but an easy retirement on his mind. With unflinching honesty, self-examination, regret, fear, exuberance and an unshakable belief in family and the transformative nature of music, Crosby shares his often challenging journey. World Premiere

Hail Satan / U.S.A. (Director: Penny Lane, Producer: Gabriel Sedgwick) — A look at the intersection of religion and activism, tracing the rise of The Satanic Temple: only six years old and already one of the most controversial religious movements in American history. The Temple is calling for a Satanic revolution to save the nation’s soul. But are they for real? World Premiere

Jawline / U.S.A. (Director: Liza Mandelup, Producers: Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche, Hannah Reyer) — The film follows 16-year-old Austyn Tester, a rising star in the live-broadcast ecosystem who built his following on wide-eyed optimism and teen girl lust, as he tries to escape a dead-end life in rural Tennessee. World Premiere

Knock Down the House / U.S.A. (Director: Rachel Lears, Producers: Sarah Olson, Robin Blotnick, Rachel Lears) — A young bartender in the Bronx, a coal miner’s daughter in West Virginia, a grieving mother in Nevada and a registered nurse in Missouri build a movement of insurgent candidates challenging powerful incumbents in Congress. One of their races will become the most shocking political upset in recent American history. Cast: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. World Premiere

Midnight Family / Mexico, U.S.A. (Director: Luke Lorentzen, Producers: Kellen Quinn, Daniela Alatorre, Elena Fortes) — In Mexico City’s wealthiest neighborhoods, the Ochoa family runs a private ambulance, competing with other for-profit EMTs for patients in need of urgent help. As they try to make a living in this cutthroat industry, they struggle to keep their financial needs from compromising the people in their care. World Premiere

Mike Wallace Is Here / U.S.A. (Director: Avi Belkin, Producers: Rafael Marmor, John Battsek, Peggy Drexler, Avi Belkin, Christopher Leggett) — For over half a century, 60 Minutes’ fearsome newsman Mike Wallace went head-to-head with the world’s most influential figures. Relying exclusively on archival footage, the film interrogates the interrogator, tracking Mike’s storied career and troubled personal life while unpacking how broadcast journalism evolved to today’s precarious tipping point. World Premiere

Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements / U.S.A. (Director: Irene Taylor Brodsky, Producers: Irene Taylor Brodsky, Tahria Sheather) — A deeply personal portrait of three lives, and the discoveries that lie beyond loss: a deaf boy growing up, his deaf grandfather growing old, and Beethoven the year he was blindsided by deafness and wrote his iconic sonata. World Premiere

One Child Nation / China, U.S.A. (Directors: Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, Producers: Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, Julie Goldman, Christoph Jörg, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn) — After becoming a mother, a filmmaker uncovers the untold history of China’s one-child policy and the generations of parents and children forever shaped by this social experiment. World Premiere

Pahokee / U.S.A. (Directors: Ivete Lucas, Patrick Bresnan, Producers: Ivete Lucas, Patrick Bresnan, Maida Lynn) — In a small agricultural town in the Florida Everglades, hopes for the future are concentrated on the youth. Four teens face heartbreak and celebrate in the rituals of an extraordinary senior year. World Premiere

TIGERLAND / U.S.A. (Director: Ross Kauffman, Producers: Fisher Stevens, Xan Parker, Zara Duffy) — 50 years ago, a young forest officer in India rallied the world to save tigers from extinction. Today, the creed is carried on in Far East Russia by the guardians of the last Siberian tigers, who risk everything to save the species. World Premiere

Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ben Berman, Producers: Miranda Bailey, Ben Berman, Russell Groves, Amanda Marshall, Jacob Perlin) — What begins as a documentary following the final tour of a dying magician — “The Amazing Johnathan” — becomes an unexpected and increasingly bizarre journey as the filmmaker struggles to separate truth from illusion. Cast: Johnathan Szeles. World Premiere

Where’s My Roy Cohn? / U.S.A. (Director: Matt Tyrnauer, Producers: Matt Tyrnauer , Corey Reeser, Marie Brenner, Andrea Lewis) — Roy Cohn personified the dark arts of American politics, turning empty vessels into dangerous demagogues – from Joseph McCarthy to his final project, Donald J. Trump. This thriller-like exposé connects the dots, revealing how a deeply troubled master manipulator shaped our current American nightmare. World Premiere

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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