2019 Sundance Docs in Focus: RAISE HELL: THE LIFE & TIMES OF MOLLY IVINS

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Robert Bedell

RAISE HELL: THE LIFE & TIMES OF MOLLY IVINS
Janice Engel constructs an appreciation of the late liberal Texas journalist and personality, Molly Ivins.

Festival Section:
Documentary Premieres

Sundance Program Description:

With razor-sharp wit, outspoken journalist and firecracker Molly Ivins took on the good-ole-boy corruption in the political establishment. This six-foot, red-haired Texan found joy in reporting as one of the lone liberals in her deep-red state. She feared that the partisan plague would be the death of American democracy. Ivins became the first woman to co-edit the Texas Observer, and among her claims to fame were her searing, comical books on George W Bush’s temperament and political record – having grown up in the same town with him, she became an accidental expert. Her blistering way with words was feared by the political elite, but her refreshing critique and big heart garnered a die-hard following from around the country.

Though Ivins died from cancer in 2007, filmmaker Janice Engel crafts a highly entertaining watch that radiantly brings Ivins’ repartee and political wisdom back to life. Her messaging and brand of commentary strikes a particular chord in today’s hostile political climate. This film asks us to shake up the system like Molly Ivins would.

Some Background:
Director/Screenwriter/Producer:

  • Janice Engel

    This is Engel’s first project at Sundance. She has an extensive background as a director/producer/showrunner for television docuseries, and teaches documentary film at the Academy of Art University, San Francisco.

Producers:

  • James Egan
    Past Sundance docs:

    KIMJONGILIA (2009)

    Wild at Heart Films’ Egan is also the executive director of immersive technology at the Academy of Art University.

  • Carlisle Vandervoort

    This is also the Houston-based Vandervoort’s first Sundance project. She has a background in film and public relations, as well as LGBT activism.

Co-Producer:

  • Amber Howell

    Howell also makes her Sundance debut with this film. She has a background creating content for television, and has produced the multimedia Holocaust survivor docuseries WHAT WE CARRY, co-created by Janice Engel, since 2010.

Executive Producers:

  • Katy Drake Bettner
    Past Sundance docs:

    AKICITA: THE BATTLE OF STANDING ROCK (2018)
    DARK MONEY (2018)

    Bettner is a philanthropist, co-founder of gaming studio Playful, and co-founder with Amy Redford of media company BetRed Stories. She is also an executive producer of 2019 US Documentary Competition title ALWAYS IN SEASON and THE INFILTRATORS, a hybrid in the NEXT section. Bettner also is a member of the Women at Sundance leadership council.

  • Mark Kaufman

    This is Kaufman’s first Sundance credit.

  • Nion McEvoy and Leslie Berriman
    Past Sundance docs:

    WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
    INVENTING TOMORROW
    CHASING CORAL (2017)
    UNREST

    McEvoy is the chairman and CEO of publishing giant the McEvoy Group, while his partner Berriman is executive editor at textbook publisher Pearson Education. Their philanthropic work encompasses the world of art, film, photography, and music, including the Smithsonian, SFMoMA, and SFJAZZ. They also executive produced ALWAYS IN SEASON.

Editor/Screenwriter:

  • Monique Zavistovski

    Zavistovski previously cut Sundance fiction shorts ROAM and THE WRAITH OF COBBLE HILL – the latter a jury prize winner at the festival which went on to be shortlisted for the Academy Award.

Consulting Editor:

  • Kate Amend
    Past Sundance docs:

    KUSAMA – INFINITY (2018)
    THE CASE AGAINST 8 (2014)
    THE BETRAYAL (NERAKHOON) (2009)
    TIBET IN SONG (2009)
    THIN (2006)
    THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SESAME STREET (2006)
    SOME NUDITY REQUIRED (1998)
    ASYLUM (1992)
    LEGENDS (1991)
    METAMORPHOSIS: MAN INTO WOMAN (1990)

Why You Should Watch:
Ivins’ larger-than-life personality makes her an ideal doc subject, and her political views prove well worth revisiting today. Engel assembles ample footage of the sharp-tongued liberal firebrand’s public appearances and examples of her writing to introduce her to new audiences and to remind those who knew her just what we’ve been missing over the past decade.

More Info:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Sundance’s Meet the Artist Profile

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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