2020 Sundance Docs in Focus: REBUILDING PARADISE

REBUILDING PARADISE | Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Noah Berger

REBUILDING PARADISE
Ron Howard chronicles the fate of a town caught in the November 2018 Camp Fire.

Festival Section:
Documentary Premieres

Sundance Program Description:

Early in the morning of November 8, 2018, a spark flies into the parched brush of the Sierra Nevada foothills. With little warning, flames are everywhere. Fierce diablo winds shower burning embers as house after house becomes a violent inferno. Propane tanks explode as desperate citizens grab their most precious possessions and jump into their vehicles hoping to escape.

With unfathomable, harrowing footage, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard pulls the viewer into the driver’s seat to experience the terror and the helplessness of devastated refugees from a town with the ironic name of Paradise. Eighty-five lives are lost in what ultimately becomes the most destructive wildfire in California’s history.

Over the course of a year, survivors from Paradise cope with shared trauma, displacement, and uncertainty about the future. Yet slowly, with sheer grit and determination, they begin to rebuild their lives and redefine the meaning of home. REBUILDING PARADISE is a testament to the power of the human spirit from one of our most gifted filmmakers.

Some Background:

Director/Producer:

  • Ron Howard
    Past Sundance docs:

    PROPHET’S PREY (2015, executive producer)
    INSIDE DEEP THROAT (2005, producer)

    Veteran Hollywood director/producer/actor Howard has been recognized with two Oscars, four Emmys, two Golden Globes, and a Grammy. He is a founder and chairman of Imagine Entertainment. This marks his fourth documentary feature as director.

Producers:

Co-Producer:

  • Lizz Morhaim
    Past Sundance docs:

    TIGERLAND

    Morhaim is a NYC-based producer who has previously line produced several Sundance fiction features.

Associate Producers:

  • Emily Harrold

    Harrold is a documentary filmmaker based in NYC. She served as archival producer for TIGERLAND.

  • Matthew Smith

    Smith previously has held production assistant positions on reality television and docuseries. This is his first producing credit for a Sundance project.

Supervising Producer:

  • Kelsey Field

    Field is head of production at Imagine Documentaries, and previously worked at RadicalMedia. This is her first Sundance credit.

Executive Producers:

  • Michael Rosenberg

    Rosenberg is co-chair of Imagine Entertainment.

  • Louisa Velis

    This is the first Sundance credit for Imagine Entertainment’s Velis.

  • Carolyn Bernstein
    Past Sundance docs:

    SEA OF SHADOWS (2019)

    Bernstein is EVP, global scripted content and documentary films at National Geographic.

  • Ryan Harrington
    Past Sundance docs:

    SEA OF SHADOWS
    A PLACE AT THE TABLE
    AMERICAN TEEN

    The Emmy-nominated Harrington is VP, documentary films at National Geographic.

Editor:

Co-Editor:

  • Gladys Murphy
    LENNY (2018, short)
    LARRY KRAMER IN LOVE & ANGER (2015)
    THE FENCE (2010, short)
    SHOUTING FIRE: STORIES FROM THE EDGE OF FREE SPEECH (2009)

Why You Should Watch:
Through up-close, almost otherworldly footage of the fire, shot by survivors, Howard immerses the audience in a reconstruction of the Camp Fire, creating empathy for the people of Paradise. Wisely focusing on just a few key subjects over the next year, and letting them guide the film’s trajectory rather than any outside presence, the film feels grounded and humanistic, and invests the viewer in their mission to rebuild their community and their lives.

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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