Sundance Shows Living Room Documentaries

A very interesting critique of (some of) the selected documentaries for the Sundance Film Festival comes from Anthony Kaufmann, who has written for NY Times, Village Voice, Variety among others.

I dare to make a long quote from the beginning of his article that can be read in full length by clicking the link below:

This year the Sundance Film Festival captured the zeitgeist. Films that premiered this past week in Park City investigated, explored and exposed the biggest issues of the day, from abortion (After Tiller) to immigration (Who is Dayani Crystal?), from economic unfairness (99%, Citizen Koch, Inequality for All) to information in the digital age (We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, Google and the World Brain), from covert wars (Dirty Wars, Manhunt) to other political and social injustices (Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, God Loves Uganda, Blackfish, etc).

But no matter how incisive, exhaustive, convincingly argued or shrewdly structured, most of the films employed tried-and-true formal elements. As far as I saw, there was no Catfish or Exit Through the Gift Shop (photo), no Imposter or Man on Wire, no radical mixes of documentary and fiction—in short, very little stylistic experimentation. Watching the docs at Sundance was like being holed up in your living room and held captive by HBO, besieged by hours upon hours of solid reportage.

Not all of Sundance’s docs were created equally, but they were made in mostly the same mold: some TV-ready combination of first-person interviews, verité observations, archival footage and informational text. Whether it’s the tyranny of broadcast television executives or the conventional training of most documentary filmmakers, Sundance was awash in issues, not artistry…

Link to

Share your love
Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

Articles: 3876