World News

    US Sundance Festival Showcases International Film, Documentaries

    VOA News
    The annual Sundance Film Festival has opened in Park City, Utah, bringing 119 films from 32 different countries to a snow-covered ski town, in what has become known as Hollywood's winter vacation.

    This 35-year-old festival was started by actor and director Robert Redford as a way to help independent filmmakers promote their work. Now, it has become one of the most prominent film festivals in the world, with a reputation for showcasing low-budget films that later go on to win big awards -- even Academy Awards .

    Movies shown at the 10-day film festival are selected from thousands of submissions -- about 4,000 feature-length movies and more than 8,000 short films.

    • The marquee at the Egyptian Theatre on Main Street is seen at night during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, January 17, 2013.
    • Robert Redford, founder and president of the Sundance Institute, addresses the audience on the opening night premiere of the film "May in the Summer" at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, January 17, 2013.
    • Cast member Gaby Hoffmann leans over backwards in front of other including actor Michael Cera, second left, and director Sebastian Silva, third right, at the premiere of "Crystal Fairy" during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, January 17, 2013.
    • Cherien Dabis, right, writer, director and star of "May in the Summer," poses with cast members at its premiere on the opening night of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, January 17, 2013.
    • The Main Street Trolley passes the marquee at the Egyptian Theatre on Main Street during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, January 17, 2013.
    • Bill Pullman, a cast member in "May in the Summer," poses at the premiere on the opening night of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, January 17, 2013.
    • Banners hang above Main Street during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, January 17, 2013.

    Many films made outside the United States get their first widespread exposure in the U.S. through Sundance. This year's festival opened with a screening of "May in the Summer," about the identity crisis of a Jordanian woman who lives in the United States but goes to Jordan to prepare for her wedding.

    Documentaries and short films also are showcased at the festival, with topics including former U.S. vice president Dick Cheney, the history of suicide in the family of author Ernest Hemingway, and the everyday lives of backup dancers for famous singers.

    In addition to the hundreds of film screenings taking place in Park City, a dozen short films selected for the festival will be viewable online, on the Screening Room YouTube channel.

    Cherien Dabis wrote, directed and starred in "May in the Summer." Speaking at the festival, she told reporters it was a way to share her heritage.

    "It was very important to me because it is my heritage and I did grow up very aware of the fact that Middle Easterners are very misrepresented and underrepresented. And I just wanted to tell a universal story in the Middle East so that we could see the context in the Middle East and yet a story that has nothing to do with the things that we see every day on the news. Because the Middle East is in the news every day, it's so important that we widen our perceptions of what it is.''

    While the festival helps promote unknown talent, it also is a place where celebrity actors and directors come to promote their latest work, filling an otherwise quiet resort town with the glamour of the U.S. movie industry.

    David O. Russell, who wrote and directed the award winning "Silver Linings Playbook," told reporters at an event in California that the Sundance Festival helped launch his career.

    "Sundance gave me a destination when I was a bartender, when I had a day job. I would make my short films and that was my goal: to get them to Sundance. It gave me a destination, and I thank Robert Redford for that. I thank Sundance for that. It saved my life. I went there. I worked as a ticket taker. I'd bring my short films there. I'd go there. And after I went there with my first feature, that we made for $80,000, I was able to stop being a bartender for the first time in my mid-30s. Yes, it was a big deal. It changed my life."

    The festival runs through January 27.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020i
    X
    Ramon Taylor
    May 05, 2016 10:05 PM
    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020

    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Child Labor in Afghanistan Remains a Problem

    With war still raging in Afghanistan, the country also faces the problem of child labor as families put their school-age children to work to help make ends meet. But, thanks to VOA's Afghan Service, two families whose children had been working in a brick-making factory - to earn their livings and pay off family debts - now have a new lease on life. Zabihullah Ghazi reports.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora