Sundance 2013: 10 Films to Watch Before The Fest - Documentaries

Ryland Aldrich, Festivals Editor


T-Minus ten days until the Sundance Film Festival ramps up in snowy Park City and time is short to get your prep work done. We've already brought you 10 Films to Watch from the Dramatic Competitions. Now we'll fill your queue back up with 10 docus from filmmakers with movies in this year's fest.

As we mentioned previously, we're including links to each of the films CanIStream.It profiles. This seems to be a good way to quickly find out exactly how you can watch a film, but shouldn't be taken as an endorsement for any of these services. Let us know what you think of the inclusion.


RESTREPO
Hands down, one of the best films of 2010 was this Afghan war docu by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger. After winning the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance that year, the film went on to nab an Oscar nom. Hetherington died only a few months after the Oscars and Junger has directed this year's Docu Premiere film Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington about his former directing partner.



TROUBLE THE WATER
Before they made this year's exposé on Wisconsin GOP politics, Citizen Koch, Carl Deal and Tia Lessin directed this fantastic look at a couple that were deeply affected by Hurricane Katrina. The film won the Grand Jury Docu prize at Sundance 2008 and went on to be nominated for the Best Docu Oscar.
Available to stream on Netflix


CONTROL ROOM
Jehane Noujaim directed three docus before this year's Egypt-themed World Docu Competition film The Square. Her best known is probably this look at the US war in Iraq through the eyes of Al Jazeera and Arab media which premiered at Sundance in 2004.


WASTE LAND
Lucy Walker is one of the biggest names in recent documentary filmmaking. Her latest, The Crash Reel (playing in Docu Premieres), is the story of brain damaged snowboarder Kevin Pearce. Last year she was nominated for an Oscar for her short The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom . The year previous she found her first Oscar nom for this feature doc that follows an artist to the garbage dumps of Brazil. This film premiered at Sundance in 2010.


MAGIC TRIP
Alison Ellwood has made quite a career for herself editing and producing documentaries for Oscar-winner Alex Gibney. Her new rock-doc, History of the Eagles, is her first solo directing effort. But just two years ago, Ellwood shared directing credit with Gibney on this wonderful documentary assembling footage from Ken Kesey, Neal Cassady, and all the Merry Pranksters as they tripped across the country on a bus called "Furthur." The film premiered at Sundance in 2011 and is well worth a watch for anyone with even a passing interest in 1960s counter culture.


ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM
Alex Gibney has won piles of awards including an Oscar for 2007's Taxi to the Darkside. Before that film, Gibney directed this corporate exposé, one of his most entertaining docus (produced and edited by Alison Ellwood). The film was nominated for the Best Docu Oscar but failed to win. His latest Sundance entry is the high-profile We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks.


HARLAN COUNTY USA
Mariel Hemingway docu Running From Crazy director Barbara Kopple has won two Oscars for Best Documentary. The first was back in 1977 (at only 21-years-old) for this trail-blazing film about a Kentucky coal miners' strike.


LAST TRAIN HOME
Zhao Qi may be making his directorial debut with his World Docu Sichuan earthquake film Fallen City, but he's worked closely with other Sundance documentary filmmakers including Fan Lixin who directed this wonderful 2010 look at migration in modern day China (Zhao Qi executive produced the film).


THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE
The World According to Dick Cheney co-director R.J. Cutler (with Greg Finton) has a very impressive resumé. One of his most notable titles as director is this entertaining look inside the offices of fashion magazine Vogue that premiered in competition at Sundance 2009 and won a prize for cinematography at the fest.


MAYA LIN - A STRONG CLEAR VISION
Anita Hill docu Anita director Freida Mock is another Oscar-winning filmmaker on this year's Sundance slate. She won the award for this 1994 feature debut about the Vietnam Memorial artist.

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