image[STF is pleased to have passholder Melissa Hibbard pounding the slushy pavement in Park City to bring back eyewitness news. Here is her first report filed on January 23.]

Last year I had a film at Sundance in the World Documentary Competition, THE GLASS HOUSE.  I have to say it was fantastic, one of the best festival experiences of my filmmaking career.  I am excited to be back, this year on behalf of Stranger than Fiction, one of my all time favorite screening venues.

First on my list, HIS AND HERS by director Ken Wardrop [pictured].  This beautiful cinematic mosaic tells a love story through the collective voice of 76 ladies from birth until the end of her life. There’s an innocence and simplicity in the storytelling that leaves a smile on your face as the credits roll.  During the Q and A, Ken who charmed his audience – especially the ladies – with his boyish charisma, said that his own mother was the inspiration for making the film.  And while he went on to say that this is the story of Irish women, I think most people in the audience agreed that this was a universal story of women and their relationships to the men in their lives: father boyfriends, husbands and sons.

Then I made my way to SECRETS OF THE TRIBE by José Padilha [known for his film BUS 174].  This well-crafted investigative documentary puts the entire field of anthropology under fire regarding the scandalous investigation into the research on Yanomami Indians in the Venezuelan rain forest during the 1960s and ’70s.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from a documentary about anthropologists, but I have to say, Padilha delivered.  With every passing minute the story gets weirder and weirder, ranging from bitter academics attacking each other to accusations of pedophilia to top-secret government biological experiments. Padilha didn’t make it to Sundance but producer Mike Chamberlain did.  (It was his birthday and the audience broke out in an impromptu “Happy Birthday” – got to love Sundance audiences.)  He brought with him three of the anthropologists for the Q and A to answer questions, but the story is so twisted that I think audiences left the theater asking, “What the…?”

After SECRETS OF THE TRIBE, I headed to the Impact Partners party, which is always impressive, with a guest list bursting with some of the best documentary talent in the industry.  The 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mohammad Yunis made an appearance, as he is the subject of an Impact Partners film, TO CATCH A DOLLAR, directed by Gayle Farraro, as was Chico Colvard, director of FAMILY AFFAIR, which is getting some good buzz.  Filmmaker Tiffany Shlain showed a 12-minute clip of her work in progress, CONNECTED that looks amazing and should be something to look forward to in the fall. 

Alright, on to more films…