SundanceNow Doc Club, the advertising-free boutique subscription VOD service dedicated solely to documentaries, announced today that “Susan Sarandon Favorites,” a program guest curated by Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon, is now available on Doc Club. Included in the program are eight documentaries, two of which – STORIED STREETS and WAITING FOR MAMU – were executive produced by Sarandon and have never before been released on SVOD.
Of the program, Sarandon said: “I appreciate a doc when it encourages you to be the protagonist in your own life or when it makes you itch to solve a problem, fight for justice. Others celebrate life and the human spirit. Doesn’t get much better than this.”
The eight films featured in the collection, alongside Sarandon’s personal notes on each of her selections, are:
AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY
First-time director Alison Klayman gains unprecedented access to Ai while working as a journalist in China. Her detailed portrait provides a nuanced exploration of contemporary China and one of its most compelling public figures.
“Ai WeiWei has a lot of cats in his studio. One of them learned how to open the door and even though all the other cats watched him do it, no other cat tried. Ai WeiWei opens the door in a place where that is not easy. After watching this documentary I was even more thankful for my freedoms and more resolute to guard them.”
BEACHES OF AGNES
A reflection on art, life and the movies, Agnes Varda’s richly cinematic self-portrait that touches on everything from the Black Panthers to the birth of the French New Wave. A retrospective of Varda’s work will be presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center (April 10-26).
“Unbridled consciousness is the way I would describe Agnes Varda who mixes archival footage, performance art, film and aesthetic insubordination in this autobiographical documentary. All along she throws caution and ego to the wind. It made me want to be braver just watching it.”
Directors Ben Knight and Travis Rummel explore the change in American attitudes toward dams, from pride in these feats of engineering to the growing awareness of how drastically dams have affected the American landscape and river system. The film will be added to the collection later this month.
“Until I saw DAMNATION at The Telluride Film Festival I was completely ignorant as to the proliferation of dams in the United States. Dams that are no longer efficient or necessary and which were destroying so much wildlife. Inventive and brave art and artists highlight the problem. It was also so beautiful to watch.”
Jeff Malmberg documents the recovery of artist Mark Hogencamp after a brutal attack that left him in a coma. To deal with the trauma, Hogencamp builds a miniature World War II-era town in his backyard and creates photographic stories of its intrigues.
“The twists and turns of this inspirational story start off as a tribute to outsider art and becomes something so sweet and unexpected. A classic. I can’t say anything more or I’ll spoil it for you. You’ll never again look at playing with dolls the same way.”
PINK RIBBON INC.
The ubiquitous pink ribbons campaign obscures the reality of breast cancer – more women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and face the same treatment options they did 40 years ago. In showing the real story of breast cancer and the lives of those who fight it, director Léa Pool reveals the co-opting of what marketing experts have labeled a “dream cause.
“Before you put on a pink ribbon or run for the cure, see this film. I was so angry after watching it, but sometimes that’s what happens when your eyes are opened with information that has been withheld. When I watched it, I had a friend fighting through chemotherapy and it made me reevaluate everything I’d known before about the cancer industry.”
Executive produced by Sarandon and Morgan Spurlock, this film explores the issue of homelessness across the country. Starting in Los Angeles, ending in New York and covering 13 cities in between, the documentary breaks stereotypes about and brings much needed humanity to the homeless population. The film was co-directed by Jack Henry Robbins and Thomas A. Morgan.
“I’m proud to say that STORIED STREETS was directed by my son Jack Henry. After graduation from USC he and some of his friends went across the country in hopes of dispelling the myths about homelessness. Who’s homeless, how they got there, how difficult it is to survive un-housed. They were hired by my now-friend and partner Thomas Morgan. Tom was so moved and appalled by the struggles of a young homeless man in his neighborhood that he sold off a lot of his possessions to produce his first documentary ever. The making of this film changed everyone connected to it. Tales of bad luck, bad choices, kindness and redemption.”
TROUBLE THE WATER
Nominated for an Academy Award for best feature documentary, the film takes you inside Hurricane Katrina in a way never before seen on screen. It’s a redemptive tale of two self-described street hustlers who become heroes-two unforgettable people who survive the storm and then seize a chance for a new beginning.
“I feel a huge connection to New Orleans having worked there a number of times. The Citizens of the Lower 9th Ward documented the rise of the waters and their abandonment by those in authority. But they remain unsinkable and the courage in these personal stories moves me to tears while giving me hope at the same time because the human spirit is so strong. The score is also wonderful which is fitting since New Orleans throbs with music day and night.”
WAITING FOR MAMU
Executive produced by Sarandon and Morgan Spurlock and directed by Thomas A. Morgan, this film follows social worker and 2012 CNN Hero of the Year Pushpa Basnet, who founded a development center for children in her native Nepal in an effort to combat the practice of child imprisonment.
“Pushpa Basnet is a funny, passionate and tireless young woman. In Nepal, if a woman goes to prison and she has children, they go with her. Pushpa has made it her life to rescue these shunned children of convicts, giving them education, confidence and hope. I nominated her for the 2012 CNN Hero Award and she won. My friend Tom Morgan made this documentary, traveling to Nepal to show her inspiring work, so you can see I have a personal connection to this story. As a result of the showing of MAMU at festivals and on planes, Pushpa is building an orphanage to house all her adopted children. It’s wonderful to see how love transforms them.”