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Sundance 2011 U.S. Documentary Competition: Marshall Curry and Morgan Neville Among the 16 Selected

Among the more intriguing titles we have another eco man vs. corporation battle in Bill Haney’s The Last Mountain, we have docu filmmaker Andrew Rossi gaining access into the NYTimes newsroom with Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times and Morgan Neville’s Troubadours will musically bring us down memory lane.

If you roam through all the docu competition titles that have played at Sundance over the years you’d pretty much recognize how important this festival has become for the documentary film. While I know of none of the 16 film titles announced below (hence the reason why I suck at predicting the doc film selections) and I barely know some of the documentarians attached, what I do know is we’ll be speaking about five to seven of these films by the end of the 2011 year. Among the more intriguing titles we have another eco man vs. corporation battle in Bill Haney’s The Last Mountain, we have docu filmmaker Andrew Rossi gaining access into the NYTimes newsroom with Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times and Morgan Neville’s Troubadours will musically bring us down memory lane. Here are the selections — 16 films were selected from 841 submissions. Each is a world premiere.

Beats, Rhymes and Life (Director: Michael Rapaport)
The story of the rise and influence of one of the most innovative and influential hip hop bands of all time, the collective known as A Tribe Called Quest.

BEING ELMO: A Puppeteer’s Journey (Director: Constance Marks)
The Muppet Elmo is one of the most beloved characters among children across the globe. Meet the unlikely man behind the puppet – the heart and soul of Elmo – Kevin Clash.

Buck (Director: Cindy Meehl)
In a story about the power of non-violence, master horse trainer Buck Brannaman uses principles of respect and trust to tame horses and inspire their human counterparts.

Connected: A Declaration of Interdependence (Director: Tiffany Shlain; Screenwriters: Tiffany Shlain, Ken Goldberg, Carlton Evans and Sawyer Steele)
Connected is an exhilarating stream-of-consciousness ride through the interconnectedness of humankind, nature, progress and morality at the dawn of the 21st century.

Crime After Crime (Director: Yoav Potash)
Debbie Peagler is a survivor of brutal domestic violence incarcerated for her connection to the murder of her abuser. Two decades later a pair of rookie land-use attorneys cut their teeth on her case, attracting global attention to the troubled intersection of domestic violence and criminal justice.

Hot Coffee (Director: Susan Saladoff)
Following subjects whose lives have been devastated by an inability to access the courts, this film shows that many long-held beliefs about our civil justice system have been paid for by corporate America.

How to Die in Oregon (Director: Peter D. Richardson)
In 1994 Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. How to Die in Oregon gently enters the lives of terminally ill Oregonians to illuminate the power of death with dignity.

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (Director: Marshall Curry)
The Earth Liberation Front is a radical environmental group that the FBI calls America’s ‘number one domestic terrorist threat.’ Daniel McGowan, an ELF member, faces life in prison for two multi-million dollar arsons against Oregon timber companies. But who is really to blame?

The Last Mountain (Director: Bill Haney; Screenwriters: Bill Haney and Peter Rhodes)
A coal mining corporation and a tiny community vie for the last great mountain in Appalachia in a battle for the future of energy that affects us all.

Miss Representation (Director: Jennifer Siebel Newsom; Screenwriters: Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Jessica Congdon)
Miss Representation uncovers how American mainstream media’s limited and disparaging portrayals of women contribute to the under-representation of women in power positions – creating another generation of women defined by youth, beauty and sexuality, and not by their capacity as leaders.

Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times (Director: Andrew Rossi; Screenwriters: Kate Novack and Andrew Rossi)
Unprecedented access to the New York Times newsroom yields a complex view of the transformation of a media landscape fraught with both peril and opportunity.

The Redemption of General Butt Naked (Directors: Eric Strauss and Daniele Anastasion)
A brutal warlord who murdered thousands during Liberia’s horrific 14-year civil war renounces his violent past and reinvents himself as an Evangelist, facing those he once terrorized.

Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles (Director: Jon Foy)
An urban mystery unfurls as one man pieces together the surreal meaning of hundreds of cryptic tiled messages that have been appearing in city streets across the U.S. and South America.

Sing Your Song (A film by Susanne Rostock)
Most people know the lasting legacy of Harry Belafonte, the entertainer; this film unearths his significant contribution to and his leadership in the civil rights movement in America and to social justice globally.

Troubadours (Director: Morgan Neville)
A musical journey tracing the lives and careers of James Taylor and Carole King, pillars of the Calfornia singer/songwriter scene, which converged in and around LA’s Troubadour Club in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

We Were Here (Director: David Weissman)
A deep and reflective look at the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco and how individuals rose to the occasion during the first years of this unimaginable crisis.

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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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