5 Sundance Documentaries We’re Excited to Watch

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“TikTok, Boom”

Director Shalini Kantayya, whose previous film “Coded Bias” premiered at the festival in 2020 and interrogated algorithmic racial biases, turns her lens this time on social media behemoth TikTok. “TikTok, Boom” examines the rise of the video platform with an emphasis on exploring its sociopolitical, economic and cultural impact. Similar to “Coded Bias,” Kantayya also explores questions of security and continues the conversation around racial biases in digital environments.

“Fire of Love”

Miranda July narrates this documentary about French couple and professional volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft, who both died in a volcanic eruption in 1991. Director Sara Dosa uses the couple’s impressive archival footage to explore themes of time and the meaning of human existence. The film is ultimately a story about love, which as the director notes, can be “as baffling and unknowable as a volcano.”

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A still from “Fire of Love.” - Credit: Courtesy
A still from “Fire of Love.” - Credit: Courtesy

Courtesy

“Phoenix Rising”

“Phoenix Rising” was a late addition to the Sundance documentary lineup, but one that is sure to draw significant viewer attention. Academy Award-nominated director Amy Berg follows actress and activist Evan Rachel Wood in the aftermath of her abuse accusations against Marilyn Manson. In 2019, Wood created The Phoenix Act, a nonprofit that advocated for a new bill in California that extended the statute of limitations for domestic abuse cases.

A still from “Phoenix Rising.” - Credit: Courtesy
A still from “Phoenix Rising.” - Credit: Courtesy

Courtesy

“Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy”

Kanye West: ever heard of him? Coodie & Chike, the directors of “Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy,” have been chronicling the rapper from the beginning, well before his name was cemented in pop culture. In 1998, Coodie — then a public access TV host in Chicago — interviewed West during a birthday party for Jermaine Dupri. Coodie & Chike went on to direct West’s monumental 2003 music video “Through the Wire,” and have been documenting the rapper in the years since, chronicling his ascent through intimate vérité footage. “Vision,” part one of this three-part documentary that focuses on West’s early career, will screen during Sundance before its wide release on Netflix.

Kanye West in “Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy.” - Credit: Netflix
Kanye West in “Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy.” - Credit: Netflix

Netflix

“The Janes”

Using archival footage from the 1960s and ’70s and modern-day interviews, codirectors Tia Lessin and Emma Pildes tell the story of the underground abortion network known as Jane. In 1972, seven women — “Janes” — were arrested in Chicago in 1972 for their efforts to provide safe and affordable abortion services. The timely film serves as a portrait of activism and resilience, and the power of community.

A still from “The Janes.” - Credit: Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
A still from “The Janes.” - Credit: Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

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