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2021 Sundance Film Festival unveils slate for first virtual edition

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The competition will kick off on Jan. 28 with the premieres of Nanfu Wang’s documentary about propaganda and COVID-19 in China

A Questlove-directed documentary concerning the different main music occasion of the summer season of 1969 and documentaries concerning the creators of Sesame Street and the coronavirus pandemic in China are among the many 72 function movies debuting on the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Organizers on Tuesday unveiled a sturdy and numerous slate for the competition, which will probably be largely virtual because of the pandemic.

The competition will kick off on Jan. 28 with the premieres of Nanfu Wang’s documentary about propaganda and COVID-19 in China, “In the Same Breath,” and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s “Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” concerning the forgotten 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, which celebrated Black music and tradition and attracted over 300,000 folks.

“We’re starting the festival with a bang for sure,” mentioned Kim Yutani, the competition’s director of programming. “We felt that was important to have something that just really just directly reflects what we have been through this past year.”

“In the Same Breath,” she mentioned, is a “search for the truth. And it is a bold indictment of the response of leadership in China and the US.”

Questlove’s movie makes use of never-before-seen footage that had been sitting in a basement for 50 years.

“It’s an incredible debut from a first-time director, a vitally important historical document and it’s a kind of reclaiming of history to reframe the present,” mentioned Tabitha Jackson, the director of the competition. “But most important of all for us was just that it’s a stunning watch. It is joyful and vibrant and colorful and socially engaging and so beautifully crafted and put together.”

Opening night time will even see the premiere of Sian Heder’s movie “CODA,” concerning the listening to little one of deaf mother and father co-starring Marlee Matlin.

“I think it’s going to be one of the big stories out of the festival this year,” Yutani mentioned.

In addition to “CODA,” the U.S. Dramatic Competition part will function movies with Tiffany Haddish and Jerrod Carmichael (”On the Count of Three) and Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson who co-star in “Passing,” about two light-skinned Black ladies who select to stay on reverse sides of the colour line in 1929 New York.

Based on a novella by Nella Larsen, “Passing” is the directorial debut of actor Rebecca Hall.

“The way that Rebecca has directed it feels utterly contemporary,” Jackson mentioned. “It really speaks to this current moment.”

Robin Wright can be making her directorial debut with “Land,” a few search for that means within the American wilderness after an “unfathomable event” starring herself and Demiŕn Bichir.

There are high-profile documentaries about “The Joy Luck Club” creator Amy Tan and EGOT-winning actor Rita Moreno. Yutani mentioned that the Sesame Street documentary, “Street Gang- How We Got To Sesame Street” is prone to be a crowd favourite. Edgar Wright has additionally directed a documentary concerning the pop rock duo Sparks.

And there are others that may not have the flashy superstar topics however are gems value trying out. One, Jackson mentioned, is “Writing With Fire” about India’s solely newspaper run by Dalit ladies, who’re breaking traditions and norms to inform the reality about what is going on to ladies within the nation. Another is concerning the authorized trailblazer Pauli Murray, who influenced Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Thurgood Marshall from “RGB” administrators Julie Cohen and Betsy West.

As all the time, Sundance is a competition of discovery spotlighting new and rising voices in movie. Over half of the function movies this yr are from first-time administrators and throughout the 140 whole tasks, 50% had been directed by a number of ladies and 51% by a number of artists of colour.

The 2020 Sundance Film Festival was house to a few of this yr’s most acclaimed movies, together with “Promising Young Woman,” “Minari,” “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” “Boys State,” “Crip Camp” and “Kajillionaire.” It was additionally one of many solely main festivals to occur earlier than the pandemic hit.

“We were so lucky to be able to go when we did in January, just before the pandemic hit. Other festivals weren’t that lucky and many other filmmakers weren’t as lucky in getting their work buzzed about, written about and seen,” Jackson mentioned. “We deeply feel the responsibility this year of doubling down on our commitment to emerging voices.”

Sundance founder Robert Redford mentioned in an announcement that below Jackson’s management, “We’ve forged a new collective vision- one that honors the spirit and tradition of these invigorating yearly gatherings in Utah, while making room for imaginative new possibilities in a new online format.”

The competition “going virtual” additionally opens up the expertise to curious audiences who could not have had the time or cash to make it out to Park City, which between lodging, meals and passes could be an costly endeavor.

“We all are so excited about the possibility of encountering people who’ve never been to the festival,” Jackson mentioned. “Suddenly, people from around the country and around the world can be at Sundance for the first time, be part of that first audience who can talk about this work which will in some ways define the conversation around cinema in the 12 months afterwards.”

Tickets for the 2021 edition go on sale on Jan. 7.


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