Lara's 2020 Sundance Pick-Five Documentaries

  • January 19, 2020
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So many films, so little time. If you're feeling overwhelmed by all of the film descriptions to go through for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, take a look at what that the KRCL team is looking forward to this year.* 

*Film descriptions taken from the Sundance Film Festival website

Lara Jones's Pick Five Documentaries

A movie can transport you to fantastical worlds, but just as important they can show real life experiences so different from our own. The Sundance 2020 U.S. Documentary Competition has a great slate this year, from showing us the lives of disabled teens at summer camp up the road from Woodstock to the bias of Artificial Intelligence and what a “poet of code” is doing about it. Then there’s the lives and work of ACLU attorneys in the Trump era, the anti-LGBTQ+ pogrom being waged in Chechnya, and the return after a 30-year absence of a gender non-conforming, cape-wearing psychic from Puerto Rico. Do yourself a favor and put one or two of these documentaries on your must-watch list at Sundance this year.

Crip Camp

courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Steve Honigsbaum

Film description: Down the road from Woodstock, in the early 1970s, a parallel revolution blossomed in a ramshackle summer camp for disabled teenagers. Crip Camp explores summer camp awakenings that would transform lives and shape the disability rights movement, and America, forever. Told from the point of view of former camper Jim LeBrecht, and steeped in the humor and music of the era, the film traces the journeys of campers up to the present day, in this untold story of a powerful journey towards inclusion.

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Coded Bias

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Film description: When MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini (who calls herself a “poet of code”) discovers that most facial-recognition software does not accurately identify darker-skinned faces and the faces of women, she delves into an investigation of widespread bias in algorithms. As it turns out, AI is not neutral, and women are leading the charge to ensure our civil rights are protected.

The Fight

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Sabrina Lantos

Film Description: What must it be like to be an ACLU lawyer in this day and age? When a mother is separated from her child, a soldier is threatened to lose his career, a young woman’s right to choose is imperiled at the pleasure of a government official, and the ability to exercise our basic right to vote is threatened, the consequences can be devastating to us and to future generations. The Fight celebrates the unsung heroes who fiercely work to protect our freedoms.

Welcome to Chechnya

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Film description: Searing urgency is a guiding force as Welcome to Chechnya shadows a group of activists who risk unimaginable peril to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ+ pogrom raging in the repressive and closed Russian republic. Since 2016, Chechnya’s tyrannical leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has waged a depraved operation to “cleanse the blood” of LGBTQ+ Chechens, overseeing a government-directed campaign to detain, torture, and execute them. With no help from the Kremlin and only faint global condemnation of the violence, a vast and secretive network of activists takes matters into its own hands. Note: English and Russian, with English subtitles.

Mucho Mucho Amor

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Giovan Cordero

Film description: Once the world’s most famous astrologer, Walter Mercado seeks to resurrect a forgotten legacy. Raised in the sugar cane fields of Puerto Rico, Walter grew up to become a gender non-conforming, cape-wearing psychic whose televised horoscopes reached 120 million Latinx viewers a day for 30 years before he mysteriously disappeared.