Here are some of the films selected for the 2011 Sundance Film Festival U.S. and World Cinema Dramatic and Documentary Competitions that caught my eye. This year’s 16 films were selected from 841 submissions. These films take you to such places as Gun Hill Road in the Bronx (very near one of my old neighborhoods), Liberia after the civil war, and a small Ukranian town where 16 black orphans are being raised. We also get to hear about the story of A Tribe Called Quest, Harry Belafonte’s life as an entertainer and social activist, and a Swedish journalist’s view of the Black Power Movement.
The Sundance Film Festival runs January 20-30, 2011 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. Can I go?
Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest (Director: Michael Rapaport) - The story of the rise and influence of one of the most innovative and influential hip hop bands of all time, the collective known as A Tribe Called Quest.
Gun Hill Road (Director and screenwriter: Rashaad Ernesto Green) - After three years in prison, Enrique returns to the Bronx to find his wife estranged and his teenage son stumbling towards a transformation that will put the fragile bonds of their family to the test. Cast: Esai Morales, Judy Reyes, Harmony Santana, Vincent Laresca, Miriam Colon.
Hot Coffee (Director: Susan Saladoff) - Following subjects whose lives have been devastated by an inability to access the courts, this film shows that many long-held beliefs about our civil justice system have been paid for by corporate America.
The Redemption of General Butt Naked (Directors: Eric Strauss and Daniele Anastasion) - A brutal warlord who murdered thousands during Liberia's horrific 14-year civil war renounces his violent past and reinvents himself as an Evangelist, facing those he once terrorized.
Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles (Director: Jon Foy) - An urban mystery unfurls as one man pieces together the surreal meaning of hundreds of cryptic tiled messages that have been appearing in city streets across the U.S. and South America.
Sing Your Song (A film by Susanne Rostock) - Most people know the lasting legacy of Harry Belafonte, the entertainer; this film unearths his significant contribution to and his leadership in the civil rights movement in America and to social justice globally.
The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (Director: Göran Olsson) - From 1967 to 1975, Swedish journalists chronicled the Black Power movement in America. Combining that 16mm footage, undiscovered until now, with contemporary audio interviews, this film illuminates the people and culture that fueled change and brings the movement to life anew.
Family Portrait in Black and White (Director: Julia Ivanova) - In a small Ukrainian town, Olga Nenya, raises 16 black orphans amidst a population of Slavic blue-eyed blondes. Their stories expose the harsh realities of growing up as a bi-racial child in Eastern Europe.