The Sundance Film Festival has often been called one of the world’s most important documentary marketplaces, with 39 of the past 65 Best Documentary Feature contenders (60%) either beginning or continuing their road to the Oscars in Park City, Utah. Examples include “Summer of Soul,” “Flee,” “Writing With Fire,” “Honeyland,” “The Edge of Democracy,” “American Factory,” “Time,” “The Mole Agent,” “Crip Camp,” “RBG,” “Of Fathers and Sons,” “Minding the Gap,” and “Hale County This Morning, This Evening.”
Two of those–Questlove’s “Summer of Soul” and Netflix’s joint venture with Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions, “American Factory”–won the award. Four of this season’s nominees —“All That Breathes,” “Fire of Love,” “Navalny,” and “A House Made of Splinters”—played the festival in 2022. Climate change, human rights violations, competitive mariachi, and manned flight to Mars are only a few of the subjects addressed by this year’s eclectic non-fiction slate. As the dust continues to settle on the recent Oscar nominations, take a look at our wildly early predictions for which Sundance ‘23 selections could factor into next year’s race, and find out which are kicking off their journeys with a prize or two already in tow. View the gallery above or click here for direct access.
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One of the year’s most high-profile documentaries is “Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie.” Davis Guggenheim (“An Inconvenient Truth”) returned to Sundance with Michael J. Fox’s touching first-hand account of his life and career in Hollywood. Editor Michael Harte (“Three Identical Strangers,” “Don’t F**ck with Cats”) recontextualizes scenes from “Teen Wolf” and “Back to the Future” to depict the actor’s rise to stardom and untimely Parkinson’s diagnosis at 29, as well as his marriage to Tracy Pollan and bond with “Back to the Future” co-star Christopher Lloyd.
For Desert News, Lottie Elizabeth Johnson writes, “There’s a thrilling montage that makes use of a revving DeLorean to illustrate Fox’s wildly busy schedule of traveling back and forth to simultaneously film ‘Family Ties’ and ‘Back to the Future’…scenes from ‘Family Ties’ and ‘Bright Lights, Big City,’ which both starred Fox and Pollan, help tell the pair’s love story.” Many critics have similarly praised these sequences. The documentary also details Fox’s alcoholism, subsequent recovery, and ongoing fight to stay sober. Scott Mantz tweeted a glowing review that compared “Still” to “Life Itself,” Steve James’ documentary about film critic Roger Ebert (part of Sundance’s 2014 slate). He added that the film is a “must-see…for Gen-Xers who grew up with Fox.” Apple TV+ plans to release “Still” later this year.
“Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie” and 14 more potential Best Documentary Feature contenders to emerge from Sundance can be seen in the gallery above.
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