2015 Sundance Docs in Focus: THE MASK YOU LIVE IN

mask you live inWelcoming back another alumna to the festival, Documentary Premieres sees Jennifer Siebel Newsom debut THE MASK YOU LIVE IN, which explores the impact of narrow definitions of masculinity on boys and the men they grow up to be.

Sundance Program Description:

Modern masculinity, repressed emotions, and gender stereotypes perpetuated across our culture are well examined in Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s powerful new work. THE MASK YOU LIVE IN In deftly explores the strong messages and societal expectations that are both overt as well as embedded and reinforced through popular culture, sports, and our media.

Men from various backgrounds share the impact of their upbringing, relationships with their fathers, their struggles, and the deliberate choices they’ve made in raising their own children. Experts in the field, including authors, doctors, and educators, provide research as well as observations on the challenges men and boys face in our society’s unrealistic expectations of hyper-masculinity. Seamless testimony woven between compelling statistics and montages lend to the impact of this timely, provocative piece. Being expected to “man up” from a very young age exacts a heavy price on boys, and this project reveals how our current course of male identity needs to be altered.

Some Background:
Director/producer Jennifer Siebel Newsom has had two previous projects at Sundance: her directorial debut, MISS REPRESENTATION (2011), and, as executive producer, THE INVISIBLE WAR (2012). Joining her as producers are writer/editor Jessica Congdon, whose prior Sundance credits also include MISS REPRESENTATION as editor/writer and the dramatic feature DOPAMINE (2003) as editor; and Jessica Anthony. Serving as executive producers are Geralyn White Dreyfous, also represented at this year’s festival by PROPHET’S PREY, HOT GIRLS WANTED, DREAMCATCHER, and IN FOOTBALL WE TRUST, and an alum with recent titles like THE CRASH REEL (2013), THE SQUARE (2013), ANITA (2013), THE INVISIBLE WAR, and MISS REPRESENTATION; Abigail Disney, also an executive producer on HOT GIRLS WANTED and whose most recent Sundance credits include CITIZEN KOCH (2013), THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES (2012), and THE INVISIBLE WAR; Sarah E Johnson, whose other 2015 Sundance film, STRANGERLAND, is in this year’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition; and whose recent alumna credits include the narratives SONG ONE (2014) and WISH I WAS HERE (2014), as well as docs THE SQUARE, THE INVISIBLE WAR, THE LAST MOUNTAIN (2011), CONNECTED (2011), and MISS REPRESENTATION; philanthropist Wendy Schmidt, who previously co-produced the Showtime series YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY; Regina Kulik Scully, also an executive producer on this year’s DREAMCATCHER, THE HUNTING GROUND, and PROPHET’S PREY, and a Sundance alum with last year’s PRIVATE VIOLENCE and FED UP, as well as ANITA, THE INVISIBLE WAR, and MISS REPRESENTATION; and the NoVo Foundation.

Why You Should Watch:
Like her film MISS REPRESENTATION, Siebel Newsom’s men- and boy-centered follow-up effectively – and affectively – gets at the heart of the damage wrought by stereotypes and rigid conceptions of gender. In providing a forum for subjects to express themselves who previously have been taught to clamp down on their emotions and never show vulnerability, the film proves at the same time enlightening and empowering.

More Info:
For more information, check out the film’s website and Facebook page, and watch the doc’s trailer. Check out Siebel Newsom’s Indiewire filmmaker interview. For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2015 Twitter list.


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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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