Sundance ’17 | Documentary Premieres

The 10 films in this section are all world premieres and from the U.S., unless otherwise specified.

500 Years
(Director: Pamela Yates) — From a historic genocide trial to the overthrow of a president, the sweeping story of mounting resistance played out in Guatemala’s recent history is told through the actions and perspectives of the majority indigenous Mayan population, who now stand poised to reimagine their society.

Cries From Syria
(U.S.-Syria-Czech Republic / Director: Evgeny Afineevsky) — This documentary attempts to recontextualize the European migrant crisis and ongoing hostilities in Syria, through eyewitness and participant testimony. Children and parents recount the revolution, civil war, air strikes, atrocities, and ongoing humanitarian aid crises, in a portrait of recent history and the consequences of violence.

Give Me Future: Major Lazer in Cuba
(U.S.-Cuba / Director: Austin Peters) — In the spring of 2016, global music sensation Major Lazer performed a free concert in Havana, Cuba — an unprecedented show that drew an audience of almost half a million. This concert documentary evolves into an exploration of youth culture in a country on the precipice of change.

Legion of Brothers
(Director: Greg Barker) — Afghanistan, immediately post-9/11: Small teams of Green Berets arrive on a series of secret missions to overthrow the Taliban. What happens next is equal parts war origin story and cautionary tale, illuminating the nature and impact of 15 years of constant combat, with unprecedented access to U.S. Special Forces.

Oklahoma City
(Director: Barak Goodman) — The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995 is the worst act of domestic terrorism in American history; this documentary explores how a series of deadly encounters between American citizens and federal law enforcement — including the standoffs at Ruby Ridge and Waco — led to it.

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Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman
(Directors: Susan Froemke, John Hoffman, Beth Aala) — From the Montana Rockies to the wheat fields of Kansas and the Gulf of Mexico, families who work the land and sea are crossing political divides to find unexpected ways to protect the natural resources vital to their livelihoods. These are the new heroes of conservation, deep in America’s heartland. (The New Climate)

Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton
(Director: Rory Kennedy) — This is the remarkable story of an American icon who changed the sport of big wave surfing forever. Transcending the surf genre, this in-depth portrait of a hard-charging athlete explores the fear, courage, and ambition that push a man to greatness — and the cost that comes with it.

Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities
(Director: Stanley Nelson) — A haven for Black intellectuals, artists, and revolutionaries — and path of promise toward the American dream — Black colleges and universities have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field. They have been unapologetically Black for 150 years. For the first time ever, their story is told.

This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous
(Director: Barbara Kopple) — Are there limits to your love for your family? One family’s acceptance is tested when a champion diver, destined for the Olympics, announces he’s transitioning into a woman — and invites his YouTube followers along for every moment. It’s a story about unconditional love and finding the courage to be yourself.

Untitled Lucy Walker/Buena Vista Social Club Documentary
(U.S.-U.K.-Cuba / Director: Lucy Walker) — The musicians of the Buena Vista Social Club exposed the world to Cuba’s vibrant culture with their landmark 1997 album. Now, against the backdrop of Cuba’s captivating musical history, hear the band’s story as they reflect on their remarkable careers and the extraordinary circumstances that brought them together.

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