Films and documentaries from Sundance Film Festival

Since its creation back in 1985, Sundance has premiered some of the most groundbreaking features and documentaries. We look at the festival’s programme over the years.

Sundance is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world and arguably brings more upcoming independent directors, filmmakers and producers into the spotlight than any other.

This year’s festival has reportedly produced even more waves and quality films than we’ve come to expect, including the first South African-directed film in competition in the world cinema documentary category of the Sundance Film Festival. Influence, directed by Daily Maverick’s very own Richard Poplak and Diana Neille is “a feature-length documentary about Bell Pottinger and what firms like it represent in modern politics”. The film made an appropriately big splash at the festival on Monday the 27th.

Blood Simple, 1985: Grand Jury Award for dramatic film

A man hires a shady detective to investigate whether his wife has been cheating, and asks him to kill her if indeed she has been.

This is the film that made the mighty Coen brothers. But it wasn’t just them, Blood Simple was also the first major film of cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld who went on to become a renowned director himself and actress Frances McDormand, who then married Joel Coen, and starred brilliantly in many more Coen brothers’ films, two of which she won Academy Awards for.

In hindsight, Blood Simple is exactly what you’d expect from the Coen brothers’ directorial debut: a delightfully deviant deluge of dark humour and deadpan dialogue. Part of the film’s genius is how the intricate story is pieced together by tiny believable miscommunications, and this narrative precision as well as its careful use of light and dark stretched the film noir as a genre.

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