Sundance: 5 Hot-Button Docs Set to Make Waves at the Festival
Campus rape. Depressed comics. Kurt Cobain. A slew of other documentaries (some sold, some still up for grabs) are likely to grab attention at this year's edition.
This story first appeared in the Jan. 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
MISERY LOVES COMEDY (UTA selling)
Director: Kevin Pollak
Buzz: Pollak interviewed more than 60 comedians — including Whoopi Goldberg, Jimmy Fallon, Amy Schumer, Lewis Black and Judd Apatow — over four weeks to make his film about the surprisingly gloomy business of making people laugh.
DENNIS RODMAN'S BIG BANG IN PYONGYANG (CAA selling)
Director: Colin Offland
Buzz: It might be worth visiting Park City's other festival, the alternative, "by filmmakers, for filmmakers" Slamdance, to catch this incredibly timely doc following the eccentric former NBA player as he tries to forge a better relationship between North Korea and the U.S. — by setting up a basketball game.
Dennis Rodman's Big Bang in Pyongyang, a documentary about the NBA star, is playing Slamdance.
KURT COBAIN: MONTAGE OF HECK (HBO, Universal International)
Director: Brett Morgen
Buzz: The first fully authorized film about the late Nirvana frontman (his daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, executive produced) shares never-before-seen music, art, photos and home movies from the private archives of the musician, who killed himself in 1994.
Montage of Heck, a documentary about Kurt Cobain, premieres at Sundance.
THE HUNTING GROUND (Radius, CNN Films)
Director: Kirby Dick
Buzz: The team that exposed the prevalence of rape in the military in 2012's The Invisible War turns the camera on sexual assault on college campuses. The controversy over Rolling Stone's investigation on the same topic will stir even more interest in the film.
PROPHET'S PREY (Showtime)
Director: Amy Berg
Buzz: Berg, who examined Catholic Church sex abuse in 2006's Deliver Us From Evil and Hollywood abuse in last year's An Open Secret, takes a look at the polygamous goings-on at the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints. Her documentary alleges that the Mormon leader Warren Jeffs seized control of the church and its assets and dug in his heels on the practices of child marriages and sister wives.