Normally, I don't rehash press releases, but a recent announcement from the Sundance Institute about a slate of upcoming funded nonfiction projects got me excited.
According to the release, Sundance is backing Oscar-winners Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's "Howl," which using animation, explores "Howl," the poetic masterpiece by Allen Ginsberg and the cultural circumstances that gave birth to it and its impact on American culture; Caveh Zahedi's "The Prime Minister, The Shah, the Ayatollah and I," a personal essay film exploring growing up as an Iranian-American at a time when the United States and Iran went from being allies to being enemies, as well as an untitled Iran project by James Longley ("Iraq in Fragments"), which is set to explore the contemporary reality of Iran from the point of view of a young person.
I'm also happy to see new projects from three women docu-makers: Sandhya Suri ("I For India," a personal Sundance favorite of mine), whose "DEVI" examines the changing face of HIV/AIDS in India as seen through the eyes of three women; Jehane Noujaim ("Control Room"), whose "EGYPT: WE SEE YOU" focuses on three women journalists involved in the the pro-democracy movement in Egypt today; and a project I've been tracking for some time from Natalia Almada ("Al Otro Lado"), whose "El General" looks at her great-granddaughter, one of Mexico's most controversial presidents, General Plutarco Elias Calles. Almada unveiled a teaser of the film during April's Tribeca Film Festival and the footage confirms her talents. These are excellent times for American documentary filmmakers. Check indieWIRE on Friday for the full list of grantees.