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The Storytellers

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AT THE SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2018, WE’RE CELEBRATING THE ART OF STORYTELLING AND THOSE WHO MAKE IT HAPPEN.

The Storytellers - Photo 1 The Storytellers - Photo 1

Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, the Sundance Institute has supported and amplified diverse voices to reach audiences across the world. For the last 16 years, Kenneth Cole has supported the 2000+ volunteers who power the Sundance Film Festival. This year, we made a short film (below) to highlight the importance of storytelling and applaud the passionate Sundance volunteers for their role in helping these diverse stories reach a wider audience. The film was written by the Kenneth Cole team, and was directed and animated by The Hayes Brothers. You can see more of their work at www.hayeshayes.com and follow them on Instagram at @hayesbros

THE STORY LIVES IN YOU
by Amanda Cole

Storytelling is by nature a relationship. As Robert Redford says, “Storytellers broaden our minds; engage, provoke, inspire, and ultimately connect us.” While the relationship between Storytellers and Story enablers is one we wanted to ensure was celebrated, Sundance designed their identity to emphasize the relationship between the storyteller, and the story receiver. The Audience.  When a storyteller puts forth their work, the audience engages with it through a framework formed by their own experiences. Inevitably the outcome is a sort of shared experience between storyteller and audience that continues to exists and evolve in countlessly unique and diverse ways.  Because after all… “The Story Lives In You.”

Sundance is a platform for marginalized stories and voices that otherwise may not get the attention, respect, and support deserved. This year’s selections represent Sundance’s unwavering commitment to diversity in storytelling with 121 feature-length films selected, representing 29 countries and 53 first-time filmmakers. Emphasizing the importance of diverse perspectives, President and Founder of Sundance Institute, Robert Redford notes that “The work of independent storytellers can challenge and possibly change culture, illuminating our world’s imperfections and possibilities. This year’s Festival is full of artfully-told stories that provoke thought, drive empathy and allow the audience to connect, in deeply personal ways, to the universal human experience.”

With themes of women’s empowerment, sexual assault, climate change, police brutality, race relations, border control and immigration, and of course, the Russia Investigation, these diverse stories are beautiful examples of courageous storytelling, on courageous topics, by courageous filmmakers. Here are some of my picks, selected from Sundance’s 2018 Festival Program Guide.

US Documentary Short: 

  • RX EARLY DETECTION A Cancer Journey with Sandra Lee / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Cathy Chermol Schrijver) — The intense journey of a woman stunned when her routine annual mammogram delivers a cancer diagnosis. This film is unafraid to battle cancer directly, projecting a power to inspire, educate, destigmatize and affect change.

US Documentary:

  • Dark Money / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kimberly Reed, Producer: Katy Chevigny) — "Dark money" contributions, made possible by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, flood modern American elections – but Montana is showing Washington D.C. how to solve the problem of unlimited anonymous money in politics.
  • Inventing Tomorrow / U.S.A. (Director: Laura Nix, Producers: Diane Becker, Melanie Miller, Laura Nix) — Take a journey with young minds from around the globe as they prepare their projects for the largest convening of high school scientists in the world, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). Watch these passionate innovators find the courage to face the planet’s environmental threats while navigating adolescence
  • Bisbee ’17 / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Robert Greene, Producers: Douglas Tirola, Susan Bedusa, Bennett Elliott) — An old mining town on the Arizona-Mexico border finally reckons with its darkest day: the deportation of 1200 immigrant miners exactly 100 years ago. Locals collaborate to stage recreations of their controversial past.

New Frontier:

  • Awavena / U.S.A, Australia, Brazil (Lead Artist: Lynette Wallworth, Key Collaborators: Nicole Newnham, Tashka Yawanawa, Laura Soriano de Yawanawa) The Yawanawa, an indigenous Amazonian people, see immersive technologies as tools they can co-opt to share their connected worldview. Inviting artist Lynette Wallworth to their community, the Yawanawa share the visions of Hushahu, their first woman Shaman, and our technology renders visible the luminous world they have always known . Cast: Hushahu Yawanawa, Tata Yawanawa, Mutum Community.
  • Dinner Party: (Lead Artists: Charlotte Stoudt, Laura Wexler, Angel Manuel Soto, Key Collaborators: Rachel Skidmore, Bryn Mooser, Erik Donley) — A short virtual reality thriller that dramatizes the incredible story of Betty and Barney Hill, who in the 1960’s reported the first nationally known UFO abduction case in America. Cast: Malcolm Barrett, Sarah Sokolovic.

US Dramatic:

  • Monsters and Men / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Reinaldo Marcus Green, Producers: Elizabeth Lodge Stepp, Josh Penn, Eddie Vaisman, Julia Lebedev, Luca Borghese) — This interwoven narrative explores the aftermath of a police killing of a black man. The film is told through the eyes of the bystander who filmed the act, an African-American police officer and a high-school baseball phenom inspired to take a stand. Cast: John David Washington, Anthony Ramos, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Chanté Adams, Nicole Beharie, Rob Morgan. World Premiere
  • RBG / U.S.A. (Directors and producers: Betsy West, Julie Cohen) — An intimate portrait of an unlikely rock star: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. With unprecedented access, the filmmakers show how her early legal battles changed the world for women. Now this 84-year-old does push-ups as easily as she writes blistering dissents that have earned her the title “Notorious RBG.”
  • Half The Picture / U.S.A. (Director: Amy Adrion, Producers: Amy Adrion, David Harris) — At a pivotal moment for gender equality in Hollywood, successful women directors tell the stories of their art, lives and careers. Having endured a long history of systemic discrimination, women filmmakers may be getting the first glimpse of a future that values their voices equally. World Premiere
  • Jane Fonda in Five Acts / U.S.A. (Director: Susan Lacy, Producers: Susan Lacy, Jessica Levin, Emma Pildes) — Girl next door, activist, so-called traitor, fitness tycoon, Oscar winner: Jane Fonda has lived a life of controversy, tragedy and transformation – and she’s done it all in the public eye. An intimate look at one woman’s singular journey. World Premiere
  • Believer / U.S.A. (Director: Don Argott, Producers: Heather Parry, Sheena M. Joyce, Robert Reynolds) — Imagine Dragons’ Mormon frontman Dan Reynolds is taking on a new mission to explore how the church treats its LGBTQ members. With the rising suicide rate amongst teens in the state of Utah, his concern with the church’s policies sends him on an unexpected path for acceptance and change.

World Cinematic:

  • Un Traductor / Canada, Cuba (Directors: Rodrigo Barriuso, Sebastián Barriuso, Screenwriter: Lindsay Gossling, Producers: Sebastián Barriuso, Lindsay Gossling) — A Russian Literature professor at the University of Havana is ordered to work as a translator for child victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster when they are sent to Cuba for medical treatment. Based on a true story. Cast: Rodrigo Santoro, Maricel Álvarez, Yoandra Suárez. World Premiere

World Cinema Documentary:

  • Anote’s Ark / Canada (Director: Matthieu Rytz, Producers: Bob Moore, Mila Aung-Thwin, Daniel Cross, Shari Sant Plummer, Shannon O’Leary Joy) — How does a nation survive being swallowed by the sea? Kiribati, on a low-lying Pacific atoll, will disappear within decades due to rising sea levels, population growth, and climate change. This exploration of how to migrate an entire nation with dignity interweaves personal stories of survival and resilience.
  • MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. / Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, U.S.A. (Director: Stephen Loveridge, Producers: Lori Cheatle, Andrew Goldman, Paul Mezey) — Drawn from a never before seen cache of personal footage spanning decades, this is an intimate portrait of the Sri Lankan artist and musician who continues to shatter conventions.
  • Our New President / Russia, U.S.A. (Director: Maxim Pozdorovkin, Producers: Maxim Pozdorovkin, Joe Bender, Charlotte Cook) — The story of Donald Trump’s election told entirely through Russian propaganda. By turns horrifying and hilarious, the film is a satirical portrait of Russian media that reveals an empire of fake news and the tactics of modern-day information warfare.
  • This Is Home / U.S.A., Jordan (Director: Alexandra Shiva, Producers: Lindsey Megrue, Alexandra Shiva) — This is an intimate portrait of four Syrian families arriving in Baltimore, Maryland and struggling to find their footing. With eight months to become self-sufficient, they must forge ahead to rebuild their lives. When the travel ban adds further complications, their strength and resilience are put to the test. World Premiere