Sundance unveils hybrid in-person, online fest including Kanye doc

Los Angeles (AFP) – Next month's Sundance festival will screen all feature films both in person in Utah and online for the first time, including a major new Kanye West documentary, as organizers embrace a "year of experiments" for indie film-making.


Co-founded by Robert Redford and based in the western US mountain state, Sundance showcases the coming year's hottest independent, art house and documentary movies, but was forced to go virtual last January because of Covid-19.

With the Omicron variant looming, director Tabitha Jackson told AFP a hybrid approach including separate in-person and virtual Q&As for each film would "maximize the flexibility" while offering "the best of both worlds -- double the energy and buzz-building."

Among the selected films will be "jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy," a documentary assembled from more than two decades of footage shot by West's longtime friend Clarence "Coodie" Simmons.

"He had the foresight to see what Kanye was going to become and started making this movie from the very beginning," said director of programming Kim Yutani.

"So that's one of the pleasures of this film, is really seeing Kanye become Kanye."

Other documentaries include world premieres of "We Need to Talk About Cosby," addressing Bill Cosby's downfall, and "The Princess," about the life and death of Britain's Princess Diana.

Amy Poehler's profile of "I Love Lucy" star Lucille Ball, entitled "Lucy and Desi," will receive a starry Salt Lake City opening night premiere.

Rory Kennedy -- the Oscar-nominated filmmaker daughter of Robert F. Kennedy -- will tackle the mistakes that led to dual 737 Max plane crashes that killed 346 people in "DOWNFALL: The Case Against Boeing."

Due to the constraints of Covid, many directors this year used "archival film as the basis for their creativity," and the pandemic "invited people to look close to home," said Jackson.

On the narrative side, Nobel literature laureate Kazuo Ishiguro scripted "Living," a remake of Japanese master Akira Kurosawa's "Ikiru" transplanted to 1950s London and starring Bill Nighy.

The late Michael K. Williams appears alongside John Boyega in "892," about a US veteran driven to extreme and violent measures after he is left bankrupt and on the brink of homelessness.

Emma Thompson "as we have never seen her before" stars as "a woman of a certain age who hires a sex worker" in "Good Luck to You, Leo Grande," said Yutani.

And "Girls" creator Lena Dunham directs her first feature in more than a decade with "Sharp Stick," a provocative film set in Hollywood about a 26-year-old who begins an affair with her older employer.

The 2022 Sundance Film Festival runs January 20–30.