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10 Must-See Documentaries At The 2016 Sundance Film Festival: 'Michael Jackson's Journey From Motown To Off The Wall,' 'O.J.: Made in America' And More


  Michael Jackson's Journey From Motown To Off the Wall
(Photo : Spike Lee)

Hollywood heads to Park City, Utah Jan. 21-31 for the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, showcasing some of the most buzz-about films of the year.

Sundance is especially known for its powerful documentaries and this year's lineup is no exception. Check out 10 must-see docs that are being screened at the festival this year.

(Photo : Netflix)

Chelsea Does

Director: Eddie Schmidt

This four-part feature documentary series from Netflix features best-selling author, talk show host, and stand-up comedian Chelsea Handler as she explores topics of personal fascination: marriage, racism, drugs, and Silicon Valley. She's no expert in these areas, but that won't stop her from digging in. Bringing her signature brand of humor and unfiltered opinions with her-she challenges convention-she goes there. Chelsea Does is directed by Academy Award-nominated Eddie Schmidt and is executive produced by Chelsea Handler and Academy Award-winning director Morgan Neville.

The Festival debuts "Chelsea Does Marriage," with Chelsea Handler traveling to different places to get the best answers about everything that comes with marriage. Through conversations with her father, her ex-boyfriend, young children and the former CEO of Ashley Madison and his wife, among others.

The screening is followed by a conversation and Q&A with Chelsea Handler, Eddie Schmidt and, Morgan Neville.

Screening Time and Date

FRI 1/22 4:45 p.m. Egyptian Theatre

Michael Jackson's Journey From Motown To Off The Wall

Director: Spike Lee

Featuring a wealth of archival footage, interviews with contemporary talents and family members and Michael Jackson's own words and image, this documentary is an insightful chronicle of the star's early rise to fame. An in-depth look at a chapter of his career that is rarely examined, the film allows audiences to travel with Michael as he gets his start at Motown, strikes a new path with CBS records, and forges a relationship with legendary producer Quincy Jones. An illuminated portrait emerges of how an earnest, passionate, hard-working boy would become the "King of Pop."


Director: Jason Benjamin

HBO's "Suited" follows its subjects - clients seeking a personalized experience - into the minimalist office space of Bindle & Keep, a bespoke tailoring company based in Brooklyn that caters to a diverse LGBTQ community and looks beyond the gender binary. Clothier duo Rae and Daniel take a holistic approach to their work, considering each client's personal narrative, which becomes inextricable from the creation of the perfect custom-made suit. From Derek's emotional journey as he prepares for his wedding, to Everett, a law student in a conservative environment, or Mel, who simply wants to look good for their 40th birthday party, the need for well-fitting garments represents deeper meaning around identity, empowerment and feeling good.

Screening Time and Dates

MON 1/25  9:00 p.m. Temple Theatre

WED 1/27 8:30 p.m. Egyptian Theatre

THU 1/28 10:00 p.m. Holiday Village Cinema 4

FRI 1/29 2:30 p.m. Prospector Square Theatre

SAT 1/30 3 p.m. Broadway Centre Cinema 6


Directors: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg

With unprecedented access to Anthony Weiner, his family and his campaign team as they mount his New York City mayoral campaign, the film documents the impending political meltdown of epic proportions. What begins as an unexpected comeback from a disgraced ex-congressman takes a sharp turn once Weiner is forced to admit to new sexting allegations. As the media descends and rips apart his every move, Weiner tries desperately to forge ahead, but the increasing pressure and crippling 24-hour news coverage halts his political aspirations dead in their tracks. "Weiner" deftly teeters the line between political farce and personal tragedy, exposing the ex-congressman's hubris while highlighting the sheer ugliness of the media's takedown of his family.

Screening Time and Dates

SUN 1/24 11:45 a.m. The MARC

SUN 1/24 9 p.m. Salt Lake City Library Theatre

MON 1/25 9 p.m. Sundance Mountain Resort Screening Room

TUE 1/26 12 p.m. Temple Theatre

THU 1/28 1 p.m. Redstone Cinema 2

SAT 1/30 8:30 a.m. Prospector Square Theatre

Nothing Left Unsaid

Director: Liz Garbus

Privilege, love, loss, and survival are all deftly examined in Moxie Firecracker Films' "Nothing Left Unsaid," which turns a lens on the expansive life of Gloria Vanderbilt. At 91, Vanderbilt herself provides a rich living history on the experience of growing up within a storied American family. Her youngest son, Anderson Cooper, peppers his still-vibrant mother on camera with questions about her complex public and private personas. Vanderbilt recounts how, as a young girl, she was raised by a nurse who she adored and was later involved in a highly publicized custody battle. While in prep school, she traveled to Hollywood and soon found herself married to an older man. From then on, her life revolved around a series of famous suitors, her children, an acting career, and eventually a successful fashion business. Yet all the while, she quietly created art that revealed themes most resonant to her.

Screening Time and Dates

SAT 1/23 5:15 p.m.The MARC

SUN 1/24 12 p.m. The Grand Theatre

MON 1/25  12:30 p.m. Redstone Cinema 1

WED 1/27 3 p.m. Sundance Mountain Resort Screening Room

SAT 1/30 8:30 p.m. Prospector Square Theatre

Mapplethorpe: Look At the Pictures

Directors: Randy Barbato, Fenton Bailey

Nude men in rubber suits, close-ups of erections, objects shoved in the most intimate of places - these are photographs taken by Robert Mapplethorpe, known by many as the most controversial photographer of the twentieth century. Openly gay, Mapplethorpe took images of male sex, nudity, and fetish to extremes that resulted in his work still being labeled by some as pornography masquerading as art. But less talked about are the more serene, yet striking portraits of flowers, sculptures, and perfectly framed human forms that are equally pioneering and powerful. This HBO documentary faces his images head on and explores (through no-holds-barred interviews with his closest colleagues and friends) what drove this handsome, suburban-born artist to so aggressively upend the conventions of photography.

Screening Time and Dates

FRI 1/22 2:30 p.m. The MARC

SAT 1/23 9 p.m. Library Center Theatre

SAT 1/23 6 p.m. Sundance Mountain Resort Screening Room

SAT 1/30 9 p.m. Redstone Cinema 7

SUN 1/31 3:45 p.m. Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center

O.J.: Made in America

Director: Ezra Edelman

The producers of ESPN's "30 for 30" tell the story of one of the most polarizing people in American history, O.J. Simpson. They explore how Simpson's rise and fall was centered around two of America's greatest fixations-race and celebrity. The film deftly reveals how Orenthal James Simpson first became a football star, why America fell in love with him off the field, what happened in the trial for his ex-wife's murder and his subsequent acquittal, and finally, why he is now sitting in jail for another crime 20 years later. His is a story that divided America like few things before or since, and it is perhaps the defining cultural tale of twentieth-century America. The film parallels his incredible story with that of race in America, astutely examining the tragic way that they intertwined.

The Festival debuts the complete seven-and-a-half-hour miniseries in two parts on the same day, with a lunch break, and followed by a conversation and Q&A with the filmmakers.

Screening Time and Date

FRI 1/22 11:15 a.m.

(Photo : Loki Films)

Norman Lear: Just Another Version Of You

Directors: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady

Arguably the most influential creator, writer and producer in the history of television, Norman Lear brought primetime into step with the times. Using comedy and indelible characters, his legendary 1970s shows such as "All In the Family," "Maude," "Good Times" and "The Jeffersons," boldly cracked open dialogue and shifted the national consciousness, injecting enlightened humanism into sociopolitical debates on race, class, creed and feminism. This Loki Films documentary is the definitive chronicle of Lear's life, work and achievements and breaks down the fourth wall, revealing a psychologically rich man whose extraordinary contributions emerge from both his personal story and a dialogue with the world.

Screening Time and Dates

THU 1/21 5:30 p.m. Eccles Theatre

FRI 1/22 8:30 a.m. The MARC

FRI 1/22 6:15 p.m. The Grand Theatre

MON 1/25 6:30 p.m. Peery's Egyptian Theater

SAT 1/30 6 p.m. Redstone Cinema 7

Uncle Howard

Director: Aaron Brookner

When Howard Brookner lost his life to AIDS in 1989, the 35-year-old director had completed two feature documentaries and was in post-production on his narrative debut, "Bloodhounds of Broadway." Twenty-five years later, his nephew, Aaron, sets out on a quest to find the lost negative of "Burroughs: The Movie," his uncle's critically-acclaimed portrait of legendary author William S. Burroughs. When Aaron uncovers Howard's extensive archive in Burroughs' bunker, it not only revives the film for a new generation, but also opens a vibrant window on New York City's creative culture from the 1970s and '80s, and inspires a wide-ranging exploration of his beloved uncle's legacy.

Connecting with Howard's friends, lovers, and collaborators (like Jim Jarmusch and Madonna) through the treasure trove of outtakes and video diaries he discovers, Aaron constructs at once a paean and an elegy to a complex, creative man-cut down, like so many others of his generation, in his prime, but who lived his short life to its fullest.

Screening Time and Dates

TUE 1/26 3 p.m. Temple Theatre

WED 1/27 9 a.m. Yarrow Hotel Theatre

THU 1/28 9:45 p.m. Broadway Centre Cinema 3

FRI 1/29 6 p.m. Redstone Cinema 7

SAT 1/30 2:30 p.m. Egyptian Theatre



Director: Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami

As a female rapper in conservative Iran, Sonita's talents are a liability, but Sonita insists on dreaming big. Her beats are as solid as stones, her rhymes are fierce, and her videos are a piercing howl against the constant injustice, fear, and sexism women must endure. It was only a matter of time before her charismatic presence and spirited eyes changed her fortune, and with the help of acclaimed director Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami, she is suddenly offered a scholarship that leads her on a dangerous trip back to Afghanistan and ultimately to Utah. All the while, Sonita's conservative mother insists she must be married off soon, at a price, and threatens to derail Sonita's life at its most critical juncture.

An intimate portrait of creativity and womanhood, Women Make Movies' "Sonita" highlights the rarely seen intricacies and shifting contrasts of Iranian society through the lens of an artist who is defining the next generation.

FRI 1/22 6 p.m. Sundance Mountain Resort Screening Room

MON 1/25 9 p.m. Yarrow Hotel Theatre

WED 1/27 12 p.m. Temple Theatre

THU 1/28 6:45 p.m. Broadway Centre Cinema 3

FRI 1/29 6:30 p.m. Redstone Cinema 1

SAT 1/30 9:15 a.m. Holiday Village Cinema 2



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Reporter's Photo Jan 18, 2016 03:59 PM EST