RadioWest @Sundance

Each year, RadioWest sits down for in-depth conversations with filmmakers and producers during the Sundance Film Festival. Just like the festival, the RadioWest team has eclectic taste. We hope you enjoy the diversity of topics as much as we do.

Wayne Miller

Friday, we’re talking about the life of poet and activist Maya Angelou. A new documentary premiering at Sundance tells the story of Angelou’s journey past racism and abuse to become one of our greatest voices. But filmmaker Rita Coburn Whack says she didn’t want this film to be just about what Angelou did in her life, but also about who she was and how she loved. Whack and co-director Bob Hercules join Doug to explain how Maya Angelou’s story gives us a sense of who we all are as Americans.

Thursday, we begin our coverage of the Sundance Film Festival with the story of John Hull. Hull went blind in 1983 and he knew that if he didn’t try to understand this massive change, it would defeat him. So he kept an audio diary of his experiences. While he may have appeared to be adjusting well on the surface, his tapes reveal a desperate inner struggle. Directors James Spinney and Peter Middleton will join us to discuss their innovative documentary about Hull’s journey to a “world beyond sight.”

Shannon Whisnant has a nose for a bargain. But when he bought a used grill at a North Carolina auction, the severed human leg he found inside was not part of the deal. The leg belonged to John Wood, and his connection to it was as emotional as it was personal. Their battle over possession of the leg is profiled in a hysterical and insightful documentary film called Finders Keepers. Directors Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel join us Friday as we warp up our coverage of the Sundance Film Festival.

Best of Enemies

Thursday, director Robert Gordon joins us to discuss his documentary film Best of Enemies, which profiles the caustic rivalry between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr. Two brilliant and eloquent men who represented two wholly opposite ideologies, they engaged in a first-of-its kind series of debates on the ABC network in 1968 during the political national conventions. The broadcasts burned with the fire of the men’s mutual hatred for one another and it laid the groundwork for the future of TV.

Ever since the invention of radio and television, humans have been sending signals into outer space, announcing their existence to other civilizations and waiting for a reply, waiting for contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life. In a new documentary called The Visit, Danish filmmaker Michael Madsen constructs a believable scenario of first contact on Earth. Ultimately, the film is an exploration of humanity’s fear of strangers and the unknown. Madsen joins us Wednesday to talk about it.

A new revolutionary culture was emerging in the 1960s, and for a short period of time the Black Panther Party was the vanguard of that change. Bold, outspoken, and idealistic, the Panthers zealously pursued their mission to upend the American establishment, and they did it with iconic style. In his latest film, documentarian Stanley Nelson chronicles the rise and decline of the Black Panther Party through the experiences of those who supported and opposed it. He joins us Tuesday to talk about it.

Monday, we're live from the Park City Museum on Main Street. Our guests are Utah filmmakers Tony Vainuku and Erika Cohn, whose film In Football We Trust is part of Sundance Film Festival. It’s the story of four Polynesian, high school football players focused on one goal: professional recruitment. Football is seen as the golden ticket, an escape from poverty, drugs and violence. But of course, few will get a coveted NFL jersey. We'll talk about the passion for the game and the pressure to succeed.

Many jobs have been taken from workers and given to computers. There are obvious ones like assembly line operators, but consider this: computers are now writing reports and driving cars. Even jobs you may think are secure might not be. But while the economy is changing, our education system is still based on a model created for the industrial revolution. So how do we best prepare students? It’s the question at the heart of the 2015 Sundance documentary Most Likely to Succeed, and Friday, we’re live from Park City with the filmmakers.

Thursday, we begin our Sundance Film Festival coverage with the story of the eccentric and passionate creation of Greenpeace. Founder Bob Hunter was a journalist with a vision for winning public sympathy. His idea was to plant “mind bombs,” actions that would go viral. So they brought cameras and made sure images of factory-like whaling ships and dead baby seals reached the public. That archival footage anchors the new documentary, and we’re joined by director Jerry Rothwell. It’s called “How to Change the World.”

You may be one of the millions of people who’ve seen the viral video of Henry, an elderly man in a nursing home who popped out of the fog of dementia when he heard a cherished tune from his youth. That video is actually part of a larger documentary called Alive Inside that explores the healing power of music. It’s premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and Friday we’re joined by the film’s director, Michael Rossato-Bennett, and social worker Dan Cohen, who’s trying to convince the world that music can enliven elderly people suffering from dementia and also help us provide them better care.

Pages