Sundance: Evan Rachel Wood Doc ‘Phoenix Rising’ and Abigail Disney’s ‘American Dream’ Added to Lineup

Amy Berg "intimately charts" Evan Rachel Wood's journey as she accuses former boyfriend Marilyn Manson of abuse, while Abigail Disney and Kathleen Hughes' film tackles inequality as it pertains to the American dream.

With eight days to go before opening night, the Sundance Film Festival has added two world premiere documentaries to this year’s schedule as special screenings.

Sundance, which pivoted to a wholly virtual lineup amid the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases, will debut The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales from the directing team of Abigail E. Disney and Kathleen Hughes, and Phoenix Rising from director Amy Berg.

The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales Courtesy of Obscured Pictures/Sundance Film Festival

The former, produced by Disney, Hughes and Aideen Kane, is said to be an examination of “why the American dream has worked for the wealthy yet is a nightmare for people born with less.” The festival description says that Disney uses her family’s story as a way to explore the issue, something that is sure to generate a lot of attention. Disney, the granddaughter of Walt Disney Co. co-founder Roy O. Disney, is a filmmaker and outspoken activist who has regularly used her platform to criticize Disney as a corporation. She also faced a wave of criticism from former employees who alleged discrimination and unfair treatment at one of her companies, Level Forward, as detailed in a THR investigation last year.

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Berg’s Phoenix Rising, produced by Kirsten Sheridan, Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller, focuses its lens on actress and activist Evan Rachel Wood. It is a two-part documentary that “intimately charts her journey as she moves toward naming her infamous abuser for the first time.” Wood, a multihyphenate who segued from child star to leading roles in both features and on television, accused former boyfriend Marilyn Manson last year of abusing her during a three-year relationship. Per Sundance, part one of the film will screen during the fest.

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In making the announcement, Kim Yutani, the fest’s director of programming, called the selections “dynamic films,” adding, “These bold, compelling, provocative documentaries tell indelible stories each from a searing first person perspective that we know will spark critical dialogue.”

It is understood that both films were planned additions to the festival and not meant to replace Michel Hazanavicius zombie film Final Cut. The Oscar-winning director and his team confirmed Monday that the film, which had been selected for this year’s festival, would no longer be included, as they preferred to have it screen in a theater with a live audience.

Sundance is scheduled for Jan. 20-30.