2007 Sundance Film Festival: Documentaries


The Sundance Film Festival has been in full swing for a week, and everyone seems to be having a grand old time out there in Park City, Utah. I've highlighted some of the comedies, dramas, and dramedies that look most promising at this year's festival. Now let's face reality and take a peek at some of the documentaries that have piqued my interest.

My Kid Could Paint That
This movie looks genius, and yet, it causes me to examine the very definition of "genius." It follows a middle-class family in Binghamton, New York, that was shot to international stardom when 4-year-old Marla was billed as a child prodigy for her "abstract expressionist" paintings. The family raked in $300,000 for the paintings, and Marla was heralded as a young Pollock or even Picasso. Then, "60 Minutes" aired a piece casting doubt on Marla's work, and the family's reputation changed instantly. The documentary examines what we consider art, and why our society is transfixed by (and hungry for) child prodigies.

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War/Dance
In the war zone of northern Uganda, the rebel force called the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) have made life terrifying, as children live in fear of being abducted by the LRA looking to fill their ranks. This documentary focuses on the journey of three children - Dominic, Rose, and Nancy - as their school in the Patonga refugee camp makes its way to the finals of Uganda's music and dance competition. Song and dance are used to capture the strength of the human spirit to rise above incredible brutality and grief.

Hear and Now
Apparently, this documentary received a standing ovation at Sundance, and I can easily see why. Paul and Sally Taylor are a 65-year-old married couple who have shared a satisfying life together, though they haven't heard a minute of it. The two are deaf and have raised a family and been active members of the deaf community. At 65, however, they both decide to undergo a controversial medical procedure to restore their hearing. The film explores how the Taylors' lives change from this procedure: what it means for their relationship, their place in the deaf community, and their sense of identity.

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