The final two documentary profiles from this year’s Sundance come from the festival’s form- and genre-busting New Frontier section, so neither are exactly straightforward documentaries. First up: Robert Berger and Karlyn Michelson’s CHARLIE VICTOR ROMEO, a mix of film, theatre, and documentary that brings airline emergencies to life.
Sundance Program Description:
When you board an airplane, who are those people in uniform to whom you entrust your life? What do they really do when things go horribly wrong? Derived entirely from the “black box” transcripts of six major airline emergencies, CHARLIE VICTOR ROMEO puts the audience inside the tension-filled cockpits of actual flights in distress, offering a fascinating portrait of the psychology of crisis and a person’s will to live to the last second.
Codirectors Robert Berger and Karlyn Michelson’s chilling and groundbreaking production stretches the boundaries of film, theatre, and the traditional documentary with this stereoscopic 3-D film of a stage play that recreates transcripts word for word. CHARLIE VICTOR ROMEO transports film audiences into the best seats of the theatre and delivers the intensity and gut-wrenching emotion of these emergencies via the unique approach of live performance. Berger and Michelson not only serve up raw cinematic tension but also set the stage for future collaborations with theatrical productions.
Berger has been involved with the project from its origins as a Collective:Unconscious stage play in 1999 which has won numerous awards, including the New York International Fringe Festival and the Drama Desk Awards. In addition to her work as a documentary filmmaker and journalist, Emmy-winning Michelson, who also edited this project in addition to co-directing, had an acting role in Sundance alum MARILYN HOTCHKISS’ BALLROOM DANCING & CHARM SCHOOL (2005). Among the producers are other members of C:U, including CVR co-creator Patrick Daniels, as well as Caterina Bartha. C:U as a whole serves as executive producer, together with Daniels and Kevin Cunnigham’s 3-Legged Dog Media and Theater Group. The project’s title uses aviation code to reference the “cockpit voice recorder,” more popularly known as the “black box,” actual recordings from which serving as the source of the project’s script.
Why You Should Watch:
New Frontier is consistently one of the edgiest and most exciting sections of the festival, and unique work like Berger and Michelson’s continues that tradition. The three productions at Sundance promise to offer a unique and unforgettable hybrid of non-fiction, visual media, and performance.