2018 Sundance Docs in Focus: KAILASH

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Derek Doneen profiles one man’s tireless mission to end child slavery.

Festival Section:
US Documentary Competition

Sundance Program Description:

Hidden inside overcrowded factories around the world, countless children are forced into slave labor due to rising global demands for cheap goods. With the help of a covert network of informants, Nobel Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi and his dedicated team carry out daring raids to rescue and rehabilitate imprisoned children. Using hidden cameras and playing the role of buyers at the factory to gain access, we watch Kailash take on one of his most challenging missions to date: finding Sonu, a young boy trafficked to Delhi for work who has been missing for eight months. Now his father dreams of Sonu coming home.

Kailash’s warmth and passion have gained international support for his philosophy that each child should be allowed to embrace their childhood. He gives them support, clothes, medical care, and an education. Equal parts harrowing and motivating, first-time filmmaker Derek Doneen pulls us into Kailash’s gripping pursuits and relentless energy to create the change he wants to see.

Some Background:

  • Derek Doneen

    This is Doneen’s directorial debut. He began working with Davis Guggenheim as Participant Media’s first in-house filmmaker, creating supporting content for WAITING FOR “SUPERMAN”, and later produced several projects for Guggenheim.


  • Davis Guggenheim
    Past Sundance docs:

    AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER (2017, executive producer)
    WAITING FOR “SUPERMAN” (2010, director, Sundance US Documentary Audience Award winner)
    IT MIGHT GET LOUD (2009, director)
    AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH (2006, director/executive producer)

    Guggenheim won the Best Documentary Feature Academy Award for TRUTH, and was Oscar-shortlisted for his most recent doc feature, HE NAMED ME MALALA, about Kailash Satyarthi’s joint 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai.

  • Sarah Anthony
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE WORLD ACCORDING TO DICK CHENEY (2013, line producer)

    Anthony has a background producing for PBS’s Frontline and for HBO, and is collaborating with Davis Guggenheim on projects dealing with other pressing social justice issues.


  • Purnima Raghunath

    Raghunath works with Anthony in Abbott Documentary Partners and has a background in factual programming for Indian and US television. This is her first Sundance credit.

Executive Producers:

  • Participant Media’s Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann
    Combined past Sundance docs:

    MELTING ICE (VR) (2017)
    3 1/2 MINUTES, TEN BULLETS (2015)
    CANE TOADS (2010)
    CHICAGO 10 (2007)

    Philanthropist and social entrepreneur Skoll is the founder and chairman of Participant Media. His Skoll Foundation has been a major partner of the Sundance Institute for several years. He is also an executive producer of 2018 Sundance Indie Episodic series AMERICA TO ME.

    Weyermann, Participant Media’s president of documentary films and television, was previously the director of the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program for several years and the director of the Open Society Institute’s arts and culture program before that. She also executive produced this year’s AMERICA TO ME docuseries.

  • Elise Pearlstein
    Past Sundance docs:

    PROTAGONIST (2007, producer)

    Participant’s senior vice president, documentary films, is an Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning producer for FOOD, INC.

  • Laurene Powell Jobs
    Past Sundance docs:

    BENDING THE ARC (2017)

    Powell Jobs is the president and founder of the Emerson Collective, which supports social entrepreneurs who work to remove barriers to opportunities through social justice initiatives, including education and immigration reform.

  • Shannon Dill

    Dill previously served as both executive producer and line producer on Guggenheim’s HE NAMED ME MALALA. This is her first Sundance credit.

  • Jonathan Silberberg

    This project marks the first Sundance credit for Silberberg, an Emmy-nominated producer for PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY.


Why You Should Watch:
Doneen viscerally draws the viewer into Satyarthi’s vital – and often dangerous – work in unforgettable raids on sweatshops, while also humanizing those he rescues through portraits of individual children he has brought to his Bachpan Bachao Andolan group home, where he serves as a warm benefactor and surrogate father. The film premieres as one of this year’s Day One screenings.

More Info:
Sundance’s Meet the Artist

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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

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