Sundance 2021: New Frontier’s Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran fascinating digital presentation of political theater

Consumerism always trumps political ideology. Making the argument against it appears to be more difficult than ever. In the digital version of the award-winning multimedia theatrical piece, Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran, which was presented this year in Sundance’s New Frontier platform, the fascinating post-mortem begins with details of an actual … Read more

Sundance 2021: Compelling documentary shorts led by poignant, lyrical A Concerto Is a Conversation; story-telling resourcefulness of When We Were Bullies

A documentary about a jazz pianist-film composer who talks with his 91-year-old grandfather about a lifetime journey that took him from the Jim Crow era days of Florida to Los Angeles as a successful business owner and another about a filmmaker recalling a 50-year-old incident when he was among the students who bullied another fifth-grade … Read more

Sundance 2021: New Frontier’s Weirdo Night is spicy, bracing, delightfully naughty underground experience

No Sundance experience should ever go without visiting the festival’s New Frontier programming. One of the best options is Weirdo Night, a filmed version of a popular underground show that has attracted a solid following in Los Angeles. The 42-minute episode, which was filmed last summer and was discovered online by a Sundance programmer, is … Read more

Sundance 2021: Try Harder! is warm, personable, witty documentary about high achieving Gen Zers hoping to be admitted to nation’s most elite universities

Just a quick glimpse of Lowell High School in San Francisco, the oldest public high school west of the Mississippi, tells the viewer that what matters most are not the flashy amenities of other campuses but instead the experiences of what it means to be an academic powerhouse. At Lowell, a public school where a … Read more

Sundance 2021: Ailey is elegant documentary of legacy highlighting one of the greatest American choreographers of the 20th century

In the U.S., the art of dance has been a revolutionary art form. Dance artists and choreographers have expanded the possibilities of movement languages and their own distinctive vocabularies to produce work that often speaks to the urgency of the contemporary dynamics socially, politically and culturally through magnificent storytelling without the necessity of text. It … Read more

Sundance 2021: The indomitable spirit of Rebel Hearts documentary becomes quintessential chronicle of American feminism, social conscience, genuine faith

In 1965, as the last sessions of Vatican II concluded in Rome, the number of Catholic nuns in the U.S. had reached its highest point of 180,000. Five years later, the numbers already had declined by nearly 10 percent and by late 2019, there were just 31,350. In 1970, when three-fourths of the Sisters of … Read more

Sundance 2021: Bring Your Own Brigade riveting, immensely elucidating documentary about California wildfires with surprising epiphanies

In a Bay Nature magazine essay published earlier this month about what Californians should learn from recent years of devastating wildfires, Don Hankins poses the central question and context: Where did we go wrong, and what can we do differently to live in this land? To recognize that fire is the law of the land is … Read more

Sundance 2021: The Most Beautiful Boy in the World absorbing, sensitive story of the pains of objectification, fragile ephemerality of beauty

For his novel Death in Venice, Thomas Mann’s visualization of Tadzio, the strikingly beautiful boy, was based in part on Boy with Thorn, an ancient Hellenistic bronze sculpture of a boy who was pulling a thorn from the sole of his foot. In 1970, when Björn Andrésen, who was just 15, was cast as Tadzio … Read more

Sundance 2021: Mormon-themed dark comedy narrative and Turkish sociological thriller shine as part of festival short films slate

A Mormon-themed dark comedy narrative and a Turkish sociological thriller surrounding two university students underscore just how rigorously curated this year’s Sundance short film program is. Gregory Barnes’ The Touch of the Master’s Hand and Serhat Karaaslan’s The Criminals are among this year’s 50 short films which were selected from 9,933 submissions. The Touch of … Read more

Sundance 2021: Four documentaries, one narrative highlight Utah connections to festival slate; Tumbleweeds for Kids selections

EDITOR’S NOTE: Part II summarizes the films and programs from Sundance 2021 that are part of The Utah Review coverage. For Part I which is an overview of the state of the film industry in Utah, see here. Films premiering this week at Sundance include documentaries about one of the greatest American choreographers of the … Read more