Sundance is live and in-person once again on the snowy streets of Park City this January. The lineup is here, and anticipation is in the air. The festival, which will present a hybrid experience of in-person premieres and online screenings from January 20-30, released much of its roster on Thursday, including 82 feature films. Among the higher profile projects set to premiere are a new film from Girls creator Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler’s documentary on Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and a documentary centered on controversial Chicago entertainer Kanye West.
And speaking of Chicago and documentary features, Chicago Media Project (CMP), the Windy City collective of independent film investors and philanthropists founded by Paula Froehle and Steve Cohen, is bringing a whopping five scintillating premieres to the Sundance screens. CMP has become a force on the documentary landscape, with recent CMP-supported projects including Oscar winner and Sundance darling Icarus.
Here are the CMP-supported films premiering at Sundance next month, complete with exclusive insights Cohen and Froehle shared with SCREEN today…
MIJA, directed by Isabel Castro. CMP’s Froehle believes this film will resonate with audiences worldwide, “Just a beautiful, intimate human story. We need more filmmakers like Isabel. Earlier this fall, CMP launched our inaugural Shifting Voices Film Fund to support emerging BIPOC creators, and we can only hope to find more storytellers like her.” Mija dives into the world of a young woman hustling harder than anyone else. Because for Doris and her family, “making it” isn’t just a dream – it’s a necessity.
TANTURA, directed by Alon Schwarz. Chicago Media Project has never been afraid to tackle polarizing subject matter, as this film will demonstrate. “TANTURA revisits the genesis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the lenses of the Israeli soldiers who fought in the War of Independence and the Palestinian survivors who called it their nakba or ‘catastrophe’. It’s going to be controversial, but we believe Sundance will be the right platform to bring this story to international attention,” CMP Co-Founder Cohen shared with SCREEN.
TO THE END, directed by Rachel Lears, who debuted at Sundance with her Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez documentary Knock Down the House. “Following up Knock Down the House is no easy task, but Rachel really went for it. This is an urgent story about climate justice at a critical moment in history, and it’s necessary viewing,” CMP Co-founder and Board Chair Steve Cohen shared with SCREEN.
MIDWIVES, directed by Hnin Ei Hlaing. Two midwives, a Buddhist and a Muslim, work side by side in a makeshift medical clinic in Western Myanmar where the Rohingya tribe (a Muslim minority community) are denied access to services and persecuted by the Buddhist majority. “This project appeared at our live crowdfunding event, the ‘Great Chicago Pitch,’ back in 2019, and for the director’s safety, we had to be careful about how much information was presented. Hnin is an enormously brave filmmaker, and we’re thrilled to see her share this story with the world,” CMP Co-Founder Froehle shared with SCREEN.
32 SOUNDS, directed by Sam Green. This immersive documentary that explores the elemental phenomenon of sound and how it affects our conscious and unconscious lives. “It’s really pushing the boundaries of documentary storytelling, and that’s something we’re always looking to support at CMP,” Chicago Media Project Co-founder and CEO Paula Froehle declared to SCREEN.
More about these bold and brave new voices as Sundance approaches.
Star-Studded Lineup and What to Expect in January
Perusing through the rest of the Sundance 2022 lineup reveals new films starring Star Wars frontman John Boyega, Dakota Johnson, the inimitable Regina Hall, Julianne Moore, Thandie Newton, Keke Palmer, Aubrey Plaza and Oscar winner Emma Thompson. Click here for the lineup.
As for the in-person / virtual hybrid Sundance is planning for this January, Festival Director Tabitha Jackson declared, “This is a big complicated beast. But the way we are thinking of it is how can we experiment to find out what the festival can be going forward… It’s about taking the best of the in-person experience, which is mighty, and taking the best of the online experience and seeing what third thing arises from those.”
Diversity in Numbers
Of the announced feature films, 52% were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as women. 35% were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as people of color. The 2022 lineup was selected from 14,849 submissions, including 3,762 feature-length films.
Sundance’s Director of Programming Kim Yutani offered some notable insight into the selection process. Yutani lamented that many decisions have already been made before those films even get to them. “We’re just in a very fortunate position to be able to receive the work that we get,” said Sundance’s Director of Programming Kim Yutani. “Some of these projects we have been tracking for years, some of them have come through our feature film programs, our lab programs, so we’ve been aware of them through those means. But it is so much about the pipeline and we are at the end of it.”