Sundance 2024: Frida is sumptuous tribute to Kahlo, highlighting her durable status as a major cultural icon

Seventy years after her death at the age of 47, Frida Kahlo remains as popular as ever in contemporary culture, with a durability that matches or even surpasses that of prominent artists of her time such as Georgia O’Keeffe.  The recipient of the Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award in the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2024 … Read more

Sundance 2024: Superlative and gripping, Sugarcane takes viewers to elucidating plane of empathy, truth, reconciliation

In North America, the horrific legacy of federal Indian residential and boarding schools has never been new to Indigenous communities. In the superlative and gripping documentary, Sugarcane, which premiered at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, we learn just how profoundly ingrained the trauma of that legacy continues to affect every Indigenous person in British Columbia. The … Read more

Sundance 2024: Union makes for well-paced documentary film, packing zip, punch and drama into story about independent labor organizing

In the 1930s, unions organized with tremendous success, eventually coming to represent more than one-third of the nation’s workforce by the mid-1950s. The same period saw unions able to shut down companies through strikes in order to force executives to the bargaining table. The General Motors strike in 1937, which autoworkers used to gain recognition … Read more

Sundance 2024: Porcelain War is extraordinary testament in new frame of documentary filmmaking about war combat, indispensable presence of art

A title card in the opening of Porcelain War reads: “Nearly all the footage you are about to watch was shot by the subjects in this film.” This film is extraordinary not only for its thematic structure and cinematography that offers a unique perspective on what the gravity of relentless combat entails but also for … Read more

Sundance 2024: Superb, spellbinding and unsettling, Eternal You documentary critiques technology’s quest to ‘keep the dead alive’

Up until 2007, Facebook deleted the profiles of any deceased persons but in the aftermath of the shootings in the 2007 Virginia Tech University massacre, many students at the school organized a grassroots campaign to persuade the social media giant to reverse its policy. Students talked about how they turned to Facebook to grieve those … Read more

Sundance 2024: Mesmerizing and riveting, Love Machina blends love story into earnest belief in benevolent possibilities of technology

After watching Love Machina (C41 Media), one of the films in the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, one can truly hope that the benevolent vision of singularity which Martine and Bina Rothblatt espouse will come to fruition. Directed by Peter Sillen, the documentary traverses a lot of advanced technological territory — … Read more

Sundance 2024: A New Kind of Wilderness is pensive, intimate documentary of virtues of pastoral life, sustaining memories of mother’s legacy

There is a persistent pensive tone in the ode to the virtues of pastoral life in A New Kind of Wilderness, a Norwegian documentary directed by Silje Evensmo Jacobsen, which received its premiere at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. The film won the Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema Documentary Competition. The film opens … Read more

Sundance 2024: From Mexico, Sujo is astounding, brilliantly acted, superbly written narrative feature

Few journalists covering the relentless violence of cartels, narcos and sicarios in Mexico were closer to chronicling the direct human impact of the ferocious drug wars than the late Javier Valdez, who was assassinated because of his investigative reporting. In his weekly column Mala­yerba, which was slang for marijuana, he brought to light stories about … Read more

Sundance 2024: Scott Cummings’ Realm of Satan makes for aesthetically pleasing, absorbing experiential documentary

In January 2021, a historic home in Poughkeepsie, New York, which was built in 1900 and used by members of the Church of Satan (COS), was destroyed by arson. Known as the Halloween House which was a popular spot for trick or treaters, it was owned by Joe “Netherworld” Mendillo, a church member whom COS … Read more

Whip-smart Pioneer Theatre Company production of Karen Zacarias’ Native Gardens makes for dazzling Utah premiere

The trials and tribulations of neighbors, especially involving property line disputes, have been among the most widely applied tropes in practically every television sitcom series since the 1950s. Many of these scenes have followed the tenets of “Hollywood Law,” which carves out the spaces for acceptable breakaways from reality. There also have been a handful … Read more