Wrapping Up Sundance ’09

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Yance FordPOV series producer Yance Ford has been at the Sundance Film Festival all week. She files one last report from Park City.

Sundance ’09 has come to an end for me. It’s 6 a.m. and I’m sitting at the Salt Lake City airport, exhausted but exhilarated from the past seven days. Oscar nominations will be announced shortly and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the POV film on the list: The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) by Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath, which will air on POV during our 2009 season.

I know that the blogosphere will have a lot to say on how “quiet” Sundance was this year. In this context, “quiet” means the lack of high-profile bidding contests for films and the requisite buzz they generate. Despite that, distribution deals for several narrative films were made at Sundance this year. If you’re interested, you can check out the wonderfully revamped Indiewire.com for more information.

A street in Mexico City, as seen in the film El General

A scene from El General

I’m leaving Sundance felling good about the state of documentaries. Distribution challenges and persistent struggles for funding aside, I saw some amazing work this week. I’ve already mentioned El General and William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe — both of which POV has acquired — as highlights of the first week. The Reckoning was another film that stood out for me. Docs that I wanted to see, but missed, included The Cove, We Live in Public and No Impact Man, because the Park City Screenings were all sold out. I’ll reserve my analysis of those films until I see them. I would also point to Boy Interrupted by Dana Perry and Art & Copy by Doug Pray as standouts in the Feature Docs lineup. The Short Documentary category was also outstanding. Among my favorites were Steel Homes by Eva Weber, So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away by Annie P. Waldman and Utopia Part 3: The World’s Largest Mall in China by Sam Green and Carrie Lozano. Many of the short films from this years’ festival are available on Itunes for free for a limited time. Don’t miss them!

The doc lineup at Sundance ’09 was aesthetically varied (Lunch Break/Exit), topical (Reporter) and revealing of international struggles for justice (Burma VJ and Tibet in Song). Even though it was quiet, Sundance has jump-started the 2009 festival season with a thoughtful, provocative bang. Next up are the film festivals True/False, South by South West and others. See you there!

NOTE: It’s 7:25 a.m. mountain time, and The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) has been nominated for Best Feature Documentary! Smile Pinky by POV alum Megan Mylan (The Lost Boys of Sudan, POV 2004) has been nominated for Best Documentary Short. Congratulations to all the nominees.

Yance Ford
Yance Ford
Yance works closely with POV's executive director and programming director to evaluate films submitted to POV She is instrumental in curating the series, a showcase of acclaimed documentary film on PBS. Yance frequently represents POV | American Documentary at conferences, festivals and markets, procuring work from filmmakers both nationally and internationally. Yance also oversees POV's annual call for entries, which yields upwards of one thousand entries, and coordinates POV's annual programming advisory board. Yance is a Programming Consultant and Pre- Screener for film festivals around the country, including the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, the Black Maria Film Festival, the Newport International Film Festival, Latino Public Broadcasting, Creative Capital and the Sundance Film Festival. She has served on festival juries at Full Frame and Silverdocs, appeared on panels at Sunny Side of the Doc and DocuClub and served on the IFP Advisory Committee. A graduate of Hamilton College and the production workshop at Third World Newsreel, Yance is a former Production Stage Manager for the Girls Choir of Harlem and has worked as a Production Manager on numerous independent productions for the Discovery Health and History channels. Ford has also worked in various capacities on the documentaries The Favorite Poem Project, Juanita Anderson, Executive Producer, Brian Lanker's They Drew Fire (PBS), and Barry Levinson's Yesterday's Tomorrows (Showtime). Yance's favorite documentaries include: 1. Hands on a Hard Body 2. Tongues Untied 3. Harlan County, USA 4. Cul de Sac 5. When We Were Kings 6. The Thin Blue Line 7. Night and Fog