2019 Sundance Docs in Focus: AQUARELA

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | Photo by Victor Kossakovsky

AQUARELA
Victor Kossakovsky travels around the world to immerse audiences in an exploration of water in its many forms.

Festival Section:
New Frontier
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2019 Sundance Docs in Focus: THE ELEPHANT QUEEN

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Janna Deeble

THE ELEPHANT QUEEN
Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble track a pachyderm matriarch as she leads her family through the African savannah.

Festival Section:
Kids
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On DVD/VOD: UNTOUCHABLE (2016)

New to DVD and VOD this week:
UNTOUCHABLE (2016)

Director:
David Feige

Premiere:
Tribeca 2016

Select Festivals:
New Orleans, Cleveland, Tallinn Black Nights, Miami, Cork, Berkshire, Antenna Doc, Big Sky Doc, Maryland, Stockholm, Milwaukee,

About:
An exploration of the impact of sex offender legislation.

In the wake of high-profile cases of kidnapping, rape, and murder of children, such as the Jacob Wetterling case, tough laws were passed against sex offenders, including the development of a sex offender registry for use by law enforcement. Over time, that registry was opened up to the public, and punishments increased, such that now, many individuals convicted as sex offenders are basically punished for life, restricted in their movements and places of residence, and ostracized by communities and employers due to their placement on the registry. The problem, as pointed out in Feige’s even-handed, disturbing film, is that the laws are often so broadly defined that the same registry is used for serial predators as for teenagers sexting. Further, despite popular and legal opinion that tough punishments are necessary because of high rates of recidivism, these are not based on scientific fact; studies instead demonstrate that recidivism rates are remarkably low, and that existing restrictive laws do not make any noticeable difference. Feige profiles several individuals caught up in the system, including habitual pedophiles and individuals who made a mistake or were convicted on technicalities, as well as victims and families of victims who have been part of lobbying efforts to punish those who would hurt those who prey on children. While in no way condoning the abuse of children, the film asks tough questions about a one-size-fits-all system of punishment and society’s blinders when it comes to fact-checking common-sense conclusions not borne out by science.

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2019 Sundance Docs in Focus: MEMORY: THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Dan O’Bannon

MEMORY: THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN
Alexandre O Philippe presents an expansive film essay on the origins of ALIEN.

Festival Section:
Midnight
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2019 Sundance Docs in Focus: THE INFILTRATORS

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Lisa Rinzler

THE INFILTRATORS
Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra construct a hybrid docufiction project detailing the mission of undocumented youth to be detained by Border Patrol.

Festival Section:
NEXT
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In Theatres: WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY

Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, January 18:
WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY

Director:
Roberta Grossman

Premiere:
San Francisco Jewish 2018

Select Festivals:
Rome, Heartland, Jewish fests in New York, Jerusalem, Miami, San Diego, Atlanta, Rutgers, and Wilmington

About:
The hidden history of a secret archive created by Jews within the Warsaw Ghetto.

Recognizing the dangerous times in which they lived, a clandestine group of scholars, journalists, and community leaders set out to document Jewish lives in the Warsaw Ghetto and to collect their history so that it was not written for them by the Nazi propaganda machine. Adhering to strict protocols of secrecy, only three members of the group, known as Oyneg Shabes, knew the underground location of the archive. Remarkably, one of these survived the war, allowing two of the three caches to be uncovered. Grossman’s film reveals the story behind what has become known as the Ringelblum Archive, named after Emanuel Ringelblum, the historian who spearheaded the dangerous mission. In addition to using rare archival footage, the film incorporates re-enactments and narration culled from historical documents. While the narrations are largely successful, the dramatized scenes are unnecessary and lend an old-fashioned air to what is otherwise a compelling work of nonfiction history.

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2019 Sundance Docs in Focus: WORDS FROM A BEAR

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Jeffrey Palmer

WORDS FROM A BEAR
Jeffrey Palmer explores the work and influence of Pulitzer Prize-winning author, N Scott Momaday.

Festival Section:
Documentary Premieres
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