TakePart's Sundance 5: Can These Buzzworthy Films Change the World?

Jenny Inglee is a Los Angeles-based journalist and the Education Editor at TakePart.
redford
Robert Redford and his colleagues started the Sundance Film Festival back in 1981. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Sundance Film Festival is underway, and so is the buzz for several socially relevant films.

The question is, will any of these movies have the impact of past Sundance premieres?

The 2009 festival saw films like The Cove, an eye-opening documentary about dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan, and Precious, the heart-wrenching film about a teen overcoming poverty, incest and illiteracy in Harlem. Both these pictures subsequently won Oscars.

From 2010, Winter's Bone followed a young woman in search of her drug-dealing father, and the documentary Waiting for 'Superman' exposed the state of America's public education system.

TakePart has chosen five 2011 Sundance entrants that we think will be remembered as thought-provoking and culture-changing films.

The Devil's Double

In 1987, an Iraqi army lieutenant, Latif Yahia, was summoned to Saddam's palace and told he would become the body double for the corrupt and violent Uday Hussein. Refusal meant his family would be condemned to death. The feature film is an extraordinary look at Latif's masquerade as Uday Hussein.


Project Nim

The Oscar-winning team behind Man on Wire brings audiences the story of Nim, a chimpanzee who was raised as a human child. The hope of this 1970s landmark experiment was to prove that if a chimp were raised as a human, the animal could learn and communicate with sign language.

The Hollywood Reporter says, "This haunting life story is an exquisite example of non-fiction filmmaking as full-bodied, emotionally complex drama."


Pariah

The feature film, Pariah, takes a look into the life of a Brooklyn teenager as she juggles conflicting identities and risks friendship, heartbreak, and family in a desperate search for sexual expression. The Salt Lake Tribune says, "Most dramas don't get as emotionally authentic and character-specific as Pariah."


Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times

Is print journalism dead? As internet clicks surpass print runs, and newspapers drop like dinosaurs in a time of extreme and sudden environmental change, director Andrew Rossi chronicles the media industry's transformation and assesses the high stakes for democracy if in-depth investigative reporting becomes extinct. For his documentary, Rossi was granted unprecedented access at the New York Times for one year.


The Redemption of General Butt Naked

Yes, you read that title right. This documentary is the story of Joshua Milton Blahyi, the once-brutal Liberian warlord who has renounced his past and reinvented himself as an evangelist. Blahyi attempts to face those he terrorized and rebuild the lives of the people he commanded during the country's 14-year civil war.


Participant Media, the parent company of TakePart, was responsible for the Social Action Campaign for The Cove and produced "Waiting for 'Superman.'"


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