Three Soc Doc Alums’ Work Presented in Award-Winning Films at Sundance Film Festival
February 5, 2021

The preeminent Sundance Film Festival (which takes place each January in Park City, Utah, Salt Lake City, and at the Sundance Resort), is the largest independent film festival in the US. It includes competitive categories in documentary and dramatic films, both feature length and short films, in which awards are given, as well as out-of-competition categories for showcasing new films. We are beyond pleased to announce that for the second year in a row, our alumnus Daniella Alatorre (MFA 2016 Social Documentary Film) is represented at the Sundance Film Festival.

Close-up of a toddler’s face.

A still from Users.

This year, it is as co-producer of Users (directed by Natalia Almada), a film about the concurrence of our planet’s dependence on technology and of the maelstrom of natural disasters (fires, drought, rising ocean levels) that engulf our world around us all. With transcendent camerawork, the film both marvels and fears what we are accepting as societal progress, as we witness the consequence it has on the filmmaker’s own child. Users entered the US Documentary Competition, and its director Natalia Almada was awarded the Best Directing Award.

Black and white image of two dancers in loose clothing

A still from Ailey.

Also in the US Documentary lineup was Jamila Wignot’s Ailey, a poetic biography of the visionary choreographer Alvin Ailey, and on which our alumni William Bentley (MFA 2016 Social Documentary Film) and James Stuart (MFA 2017 Social Documentary Film) served as assistant editors. Rich with archival footage and layered with audio recordings, the film expounds on Ailey’s upbringing and its role in shaping the language of his inspiration. His pioneering and enduring choreography centers on the African American experience and resulted in the founding of the world renown Alvin Ailey Dance Company.

Young person leaning out of the passenger window of a car

A still from One For The Road.

Finally, in addition to a successful career in documentaries, our multi-talented alumnus Nottapon Boonprakob (MFA 2016 Social Documentary Film) collaborated with renowned Thai director Baz Poonpiriya on a narrative film entitled One For The Road.

This film was produced by celebrated auteur director Wong Kar Wai (regarded as “contemporary cinema’s supreme rhapsodist or romantic longing”). Nottapon was the screenwriter and co-director of this film about a charmed Thai youth in New York City who returns to Bangkok at the behest of a dying friend. The journey is a perfect balance of sorrow, joy and romance as it tells this story of the flourishing of youth and the eventual evanescence of life. One For The Road director Baz Poonpiriya has won the Special Jury for Creative Vision Award in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition.