Sundance Crop Brings More Non-Fiction Oscar Authors Than Fiction

The Sundance winners gained traction with respect to the landing distribution, eyeball or trajectory type leading up to the Oscars.

Every January, Sundance The film festival showcases a host of documentary Oscar nominees, and 2022 was right. While there are exceptions (the Oscar winners “Citizenfour,” “Free Solo” and “My Octopus Teacher”), most Oscar-nominated documentaries ultimately premiere at Sundance. This is the festival of choice for non-fiction films to be seen and discovered.

You can see why: shortlisted for the 2022 Oscars is the debut of Sundance 2021 from Nanfu Wang (HBO’s China Covid reveals “In the Same Breath”), Danish filmmaker Jonas Poher Rasmussen ( Neon’s immigration cartoon “Flee”), self-taught Jessica Beshir (Janus’ dives into Ethiopia’s khat industry “Faya Dayi”), Camilla Nielsson (Greenwich Entertainment’s Zimbabwe reveals “The President”); and rookie filmmaker Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (1969 Searchlight/Hulu concert film “Summer of Soul”).

This year’s new Sundance crop is equally impressive.

Documentary Award Winners Get a Raise

The jury awards aren’t for the films that resonate the most: those films have won the audience awards. But the Sundance winners did get a chance to be seen and, if needed, obtained.

The jury prize was Shaunak Sen’s World Documentary “All That Breathes,” about two brothers who rescue birds of prey flying through the polluted air of New Delhi, and the submission. American Documentary competition “The Exiles” by Ben Klein and Violet Columbus, combines 30- Aged archival footage shot by NYU professor/filmmaker Christine Choy while capturing contemporary interviews with her and three activists in exile from China, who left the country after their 1989 protest in Tiananmen Square and never returned.

In contrast, both the Audience Award for Documentary and the Festival’s Favorite Award went to Daniel Roher’s thrilling documentary “Navalny” (CNN / HBO Max) about the prestigious opposition leader of the United States. Russia, who dared to survive being poisoned by Vladimir Putin’s thugs and after recovering in Germany, returns brazenly to Russia amid crowds of supporters – and is clapped in jail.

The flame of love

“The flame of love

Courtesy Sundance Film Festival

The NEXT Audience Award winner is the documentary “Framing Agnes” by Chase Joynt, which examines how transgender people are portrayed in the media; The film also took home the NEXT Innovator award. The Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary went to “The Territory” about the impact of deforestation on indigenous peoples in Brazil, which also won the Special Film Jury Prize World documentary for documentaries and awarded by NatGeo.

NatGeo also captures Sara Dosa’s vibrant opening track “Flame of Love,” brilliantly narrated by Miranda July. It received the Jonathan Oppenheim Editorial Award for American Documentary Feature.

Also won the Special Jury Prize: The Impact of American Documentary Films on Change for “Aftershock,” a shocking look at black maternal mortality played by Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee directed and produced as well as the Creative Vision of the American Documentary for “Descendants”. Margaret Brown examines racial segregation in America through the eyes of residents of Africatown, near her home in Mobile, Alabama, who are descendants of the last slaves brought to shore by the Clotilda helmsman. United States, just before the Civil War. Netflix and Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground bought the film at the festival and will be chasing the awards.

Bill Nighy appears in Oliver Hermanus' Living, an official selection of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival Premiere. Courtesy of the Sundance Institute | Photo by Number 9 Films / Ross Ferguson.



Fictional Oscar Invaders

Last year, Sundance 2021 delivered more Oscar contenders than usual, during a pandemic year, including eventual Oscar winners “Minari,” “The Father” and “Promising Young Woman.” But that feat is unlikely to be repeated this year, as many of the festival’s most popular films, from Searchlight/Hulu hit “Fresh” to Grand Jury winner “Nanny” are in the genre. this kind.

The movie most likely to succeed in Oscar Unawarded: “Living” by South African filmmaker Oliver Hermanus, adapted by screenwriter and screenwriter Kazuo Ishiguro from Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 classic “Ikiru,” the master stars about the universe Bill Nighy like a proper Englishman waking up and seeing the people around him in a new way knowing he has a few months left. Nighy’s exquisite performance could land him his first Oscar nomination, and Sony Pictures Classics will do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Emma Thompson might be a candidate for “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande,” about an English widow who hires a sex worker (Daryl McCormack) to learn more about sex, but Searchlight is building rebranded it as Hulu Original.

Also likely to make headlines in the Oscar race is World Drama Award winner “Utama,” Brazilian filmmaker Alejandro Loayza Grisi’s portrait of elderly shepherds trying to survive a hurricane. drought “Utama,” could be submitted for Best International Feature Film next year. And Finland can submit Alli Haapasalo’s coming-of-age story “The Picture of a Girl”, which won the World Cinema Drama Audience Award.

Screenwriter-director-actor Cooper Raiff who won Audience Award “Cha Cha Real Smooth,” starring Dakota Johnson, grossed $15 million by AppleTV+, $10 million less than it bought. Last year’s Sundance’s “CODA,” which was a major Oscar contender, received significant nominations from the Critics’ Choice Awards, SAG, PGA, and WGA. Don’t expect this messy and lovable family story to go the hard-to-reproduce “CODA” route. But Raiff and Johnson (with great reviews for “Am I okay?”) are already ahead of this festival. The world is their oyster.

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Olly Dawes

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