2018 Sundance Docs in Focus: GENERATION WEALTH

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Lauren Greenfield

Lauren Greenfield explores society’s preoccupation with materialism through a review of her photographic and film oeuvre.

Festival Section:
Documentary Premieres

Sundance Program Description:

Over the past 25 years, Lauren Greenfield’s documentary photography and film projects have explored youth culture, gender, body image, and affluence. In this fascinating meld of career retrospective and film essay, Greenfield offers a meditation on her extensive body of work, structuring it through the lens of materialism and its increasing sway on culture and society in America and throughout the world. Underscoring the ever-increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots, her portraits reveal a focus on cultivating image over substance, where subjects unable to attain actual wealth instead settle for its trappings, no matter their ability to pay for it.

From her earliest photo studies on the seemingly privileged lives of Los Angeles high school students, through her look at the pitfalls of extreme wealth in THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES (US Documentary Directing Award, 2012 Sundance Film Festival), to more recent images of conspicuous consumption in Russia and China, Greenfield’s work becomes a cautionary morality tale about our unquenchable desire for more.

Some Background:

  • Lauren Greenfield
    Past Sundance docs:

    KIDS + MONEY (short) (2008)
    THIN (2006)

    As demonstrated in her latest film, the Emmy-winning Greenfield established herself as an acclaimed documentary photographer before also pursuing documentary film projects. Her photographs have become part of the collections of notable institutions like LACMA, SFMOMA, the Smithsonian, the ICA, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the J Paul Getty Museum.


  • Frank Evers
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES (executive producer)
    KIDS + MONEY (executive producer)

    Evers, Greenfield’s husband, is the founder and owner of INSTITUTE for Artist Management and of Evergreen Pictures.

  • Wallis Annenberg

    Philanthropist Annenberg is the president and chair of the Annenberg Foundation. She is also on the board of trustees for both LACMA and MOCA. This marks her first producing credit.

Consulting Producers:

  • Danielle Renfrew Behrens
    Past Sundance docs:


    Superlative Films’ Renfrew Behrens also produced 2018 Sundance Next narrative NIGHT COMES ON, previously produced Sundance fiction alums COLUMBUS (2017), AMERICAN SON (2008), NOVEMBER (2004), and GROOVE (2000), and executive produced GRANDMA (2015) and WAITRESS (2007).

  • Keven McAlester
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE FENCE (2010)

    McAlester received Oscar and Emmy nominations for LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM, and most recently was a producer on SundanceTV’s COLD BLOODED: THE CLUTTER FAMILY MURDERS.

Associate Producer:

  • Keri Oberly

    Oberly is a documentary journalist who worked as a researcher, photo assistant, and producer for Greenfield, contributing to her feature and short doc projects. In addition, she was part of the camera crew for fellow 2018 Doc Premieres title ROBIN WILLIAMS: COME INSIDE MY MIND.

Executive Producers:


Why You Should Watch:
As noted in my Sundance capsule above, Greenfield presents a compelling – and disturbing – look at the rise of global materialism at the expense of all else. The film premieres as one of this year’s Day One screenings.

More Info:

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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