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Sundance 2015 Documentary Wrap-Up: ‘Racing Extinction, ‘Tig,’ ‘Dark Horse,’ ‘Call Me Lucky,’ and More

Written by on February 2, 2015 

Pervert Park (Frida Barkfors and Lasse Barkfors)


Directed by Frida Barkfors and Lasse Barkfors, this documentary explores the lives of the residents in Florida Justice Transitions, a community made up of about 120 convicted sex offenders in St. Petersburg. Unflinching from start to finish, Pervert Park is brutally simple in presentation. For 75 minutes, we get to know certain residents and hear their version of the crime (or crimes) that got them in jail and forever labelled sex offenders. Their stories range from tragic bad luck to unspeakable heinous acts most of us can’t fathom. Impressive all the more that the film refuses to pass judgment on these subjects, instead presenting them as individuals with singular pasts and singular traumas that have led them here. It’s a piece of work not soon forgotten. [B+] – Dan M.

Racing Extinction (Louie Psihoyos)

This environmental documentary has the potential to strike a cultural nerve a la An Inconvenient Truth. From Louie Psihoyos and Mark Monroe, the duo that broke out with The Cove a few years back, Racing Extinction is a sequel of sorts that builds on the foundations of their first film. Where we start is the black market in Asia, where millions of sharks are brutally hunted and killed to make shark fin soup. Where we end up is the at the beginning of the Earth’s sixth extinction. Thankfully, Psihoyos and Monroe go out of their way to provide hope to go along with their dread. Things are bad, but we can make them better. Little by little, we can stave off extinction. Beautifully made and succinctly told, Racing Extinction is the kind of non-fiction filmmaking we need every human being to see. [B+] – Dan M.

Tig (Kristina Goolsby and Ashley York)


Chances are you’ve already heard the story of Tig Notaro, or at least her landmark 30-minute stand-up special following her diagnosis of cancer and the death of her mother. Going into a new documentary about the comedian herself and the aftermath of the event, I was curious how much new information we’d get, but directors Kristina Goolsby and Ashley York have crafted a warm, compelling feature with Tig. As much as it is about her comedy the film also delves into the creative process and how to live up to your past work (or if you even want to), as well as her personal struggles and relationships. While it feels a bit cobbled together, technically speaking, the story at the center is a passionately told one and worth seeking out. [B] – Jordan R.

The Visit (Michael Madsen)


What would we do if aliens invaded? While this question has been tackled in countless blockbusters, from Steven Spielberg to Roland Emmerich, and in smaller features like last year’s Under the Skin, The Visit aims to depict a realistic version of such events. Directed by Michael Madsen — no, not that Michael Madsen — the documentary features interviews with a number of experts from the UN, NASA and specialized groups dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence as well as slow motion-heavy scenarios bringing to life their discussions. While some portions intrigue (particularly about how perhaps civilized they might be upon arrival, and if not we would never know, as humanity may be wiped out instantly before they landed), most of the feature feels as if the “experts” are simply fabricating things as they go along and never delving too deep into any one portion. While the anti-Ancient Aliens grounded approach is appreciated, if any extraterrestrial life got ahold of this fairly monotonous documentary, we’d imagine they’d skip past our planet in fear of boredom. [C] – Jordan R.

The Wolfpack (Crystal Moselle)


Growing up one can often feel sheltered from the outside world, whether its through parental restrictions, lack of a social life, or the location of one’s upbringing. The Wolfpack, a captivating new documentary from director Crystal Moselle shot over five years, captures an environment in which that idea is taken to the outright extreme. Raised in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, or rather a single apartment in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the six Angulo brothers (and one sister) live an exceedingly sheltered life. Since they were born, they’ve only left their home for at most nine times a year, and in some years, never. To keep busy, they have a collection of thousands of films in which they repeatedly watch TV, transcribing them frame by frame and creating lavish scripts that they will then extravagantly (and frugally) bring to life in their own creative way. [B] – Jordan R. (full review)


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