Why you Should watch Sundance’s documentaries


Image © Concordia Studio’s

I have a terrible relationship with the non-fiction genre. As someone with a short attention-span and an imagination that is always running wild, reality could never compare to fiction. Non-fictional films were especially boring to me before I recently started watching documentaries. I was so obsessed with documentaries earlier last year that I was convinced I was going to make one myself. They started a fire in me that I’m upset I didn’t stoke myself earlier.  

The Sundance Film Festival is an event that creates films for people who want fresh perspectives and individual creators. Any project made from a team that isn’t a massive streaming service interests me, but the documentaries that come from Sundance excel. 

The documentary I’m most looking forward to this year is Boys State. It’s a political documentary, which normally turns me off. However, it isn’t one of the hundreds of pieces about Trump; it’s about a bunch of teenage guys. It follows an event held in Texas where young men are invited to create their own government, including a two party system consisting of Federalists and Nationalists with their own elections. Politics are horrible to participate in, but watching it happen through teenagers’ eyes makes it bearable. They’re all over the political spectrum, so everyone has a candidate they want to watch. It’s interesting to watch the boys struggle between keeping their original beliefs and trying to be elected. While recreating government, the boys often run into problems that happen in actual American politics. 

One candidate says, “You gotta say what you gotta say in order to win. It’s probably a questionable thing to lie in politics, but getting here certainly gave me a new appreciation for why politicians lie to get into office.” 

The documentary does, however, give me hope for the future. Seeing politicians get along and have a civil discussion is always refreshing. It’s comforting, trusting these young people with the future of America. 

If you don’t feel like watching a political documentary, there is an LGBTQ+ documentary called Welcome to Chechnya. This documentary features a group of LGBTQ+ Chechens being rescued from Russia. The reason I’m so interested in this documentary, however, is because of the distance the creator, David France, went to protect the participants’ identities. France didn’t want to use pixelation to hide them, as it doesn’t feel real. It’s hard to empathize with blurs on a screen. Instead, he digitally imposed American volunteers’ faces onto the subjects of the documentaries. It’s similar to the effects used in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. 

Another documentary, titled Biosphere 2, follows a group of people as they spend two years in a man-made terrarium that was created to simulate earth in 1991. During the experience, there is a carbon dioxide release that makes it hard to breathe and the inhabitants start to fight. The problem gets fixed quietly, but the anger stays. The doctor in the terrarium also believes in a low-calorie diet, which forces the other inhabitants to start losing weight at a dangerous rate.

These are just a few of the features that will be presented at Sundance 2020. Documentaries are an amazing way to learn about a new topic. They are, in my opinion, the best non-fiction genre, providing something for everyone to watch.