With another amazing year of Sundance Film Festival in the books, here is a look at our favorite films from 2019’s line up.
The following films claimed prizes at this year’s Sundance Film Festival awards, with Chinonye Chukwu’s Clemency, starring Alfre Woodard as a prison warden, taking the U.S. dramatic grand jury prize, and Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang’s One Child Nation, about China’s draconian population-control measures (one child law), taking the equivalent best documentary prize.
Last year’s excellent Sundance line up gave us Eighth Grade, Sorry to Bother You, Hale County This Morning, This Evening, Minding the Gap, which were prematurely dismissed by many as a disappointment. We’re not ready to say definitively how Sundance 2019 measures up at this point, but our instinct is to commend newly installed director of programming Kim Yutani on an excellent run. The festival began on an exceptionally strong note, possibly its strongest, with Dan Reed’s Leaving Neverland, a vital, four-hour documentary whose shocking allegations of sexual abuse against Michael Jackson have stirred no end of controversy. It will air on HBO over two parts in March. This is not the first time that sexual abuse allegations have come forth about Michael Jackson…but this documentary is explosive.
We’d love to bring your attention to, two wonderful films that were not high-profile, starting with Kim Longinotto’s Shooting the Mafia, an intimate portrait of Letizia Battaglia, an exceptional woman whose photography of the chaos sown by the Mafia helped bring change to Sicily. As well as Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell’s Gaza. We feared a strident diatribe but what we got instead was a film of stirring visual beauty that provides a deeply empathetic portrait of individuals trying to maintain normal lives in the midst of extraordinary chaos. Those are two films we cannot urge you enough to see. You’ll find an article head of it’s Sundance premiere we did of Gaza here on Press Pass LA. Be sure to check it out if you are still having reservations on the film.
Another crop of films we’re particularly keen on are: Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor who wrote, directed and starred in the exemplary The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, based on a remarkable true African story. And though the Adam Driver-starring The Report got more publicity, potent work by Keira Knightley made the similarly whistleblower-focused Official Secrets at least as involving if not more so.