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Ten Hot Sundance Documentaries to Watch includes Finding North

By Anthony Kaufman WSJ.com The Sundance Film Festival’s best kept secret are its documentaries. While dramatic films and celebrity casts draw the headlines and paparazzi, the Park City event has become the preeminent launchpad for the best nonfiction films in the U.S. Some of the most successful documentaries of all time ”March of the Penguins,” “An Inconvenient Truth,” “Super Size Me,” “Hoop Dreams” first premiered at Sundance, while recent Oscar winners “No End In Sight” and “Man on Wire” also launched in Park City. Here are 10 documentaries to watch for from this year’s lineup. Not surprisingly, a number of them deal with the fallout of the economic crisis. “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” The film examines the complex intersection of artistic practice and social activism as seen through the life and art of China’s preeminent contemporary artist, Ai WeiWei. Promising unprecedented access to the controversial art-maker, the film follows his preparations for major museum exhibitions, as well as intimate exchanges with family members as well as his public clashes with the Chinese government. “Chasing Ice” Noted for its dazzling cinematography, this is the visually majestic answer to “An Inconvenient Truth”: the film focuses on the issue of climate change through time-lapse footage captured by photographer James Balog, whose Extreme Ice Survey is presenting evidence of melting glaciers around the world. “DETROPIA” Directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady garnered acclaim for their previous docs “Boys of Baraka,” “Jesus Camp” and “12th and Delaware.” Now, they focus on the economic woes of Detroit, which have come to embody the collapse of the U.S. manufacturing base. But the filmmakers find a dramatic story of a city and its people who refuse to give up. “ESCAPE FIRE: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare” Veteran documentary producer and director Susan Froemke (Oscar nominated for 2002′s ”LaLee’s Kin: The Legacy of Cotton”) working with Matthew Heineman, tries to do what Michael Moore attempted in “Sicko”: Solve America’s broken medical system. “Finding North” Exploring the problems of hunger in America, the film examines the serious economic, social and cultural implications of the country’s food crisis, asking: “Can a return to the policies of the 1970s save our future?” With celeb interviews, including Jeff Bridges and “Top Chef’s” Tom Coliccho and a musical score by T Bone Burnett and The Civil Wars. “The House I Live In” Veteran director Eugene Jarecki (“Why We Fight”) investigates America’s failed War on Drugs. Despite 45 million arrests, the doc alleges that drugs are cheaper, purer and more available today than ever. “The Invisible War” In 2006′s “This Film Is Not Yet Rated,” veteran director Kirby Dick blew open the Motion Picture Association of America and the machinations of its rating system. In his latest, he investigates a more serious issue: the 30% of all U.S. servicewoman who are sexually assaulted in the military, and their inability to seek justice. “The Imposter” From the producers of “The Tillman Story” and “Man on Wire” comes this real-life mystery about a Texas family who is overjoyed to discover their 13-year-old son thought missing and possibly dead is actually alive in Southern Spain and finally on his way home. But is he the same person? “Love Free or Die” The world’s only openly gay bishop, New Hampshire’s Gene Robinson, fights against the Episcopal Church establishment for the religious and human rights of gay clergy members and the LGBT community. “The Queen of Versailles” Already slapped with a defamation lawsuit by its subjects, this documentary focuses on Florida developer David A. Siegel and his wife, Jackie, who were triumphantly constructing the biggest house in America a sprawling, 90,000-square-foot palace inspired by Versailles when their timeshare empire got hurt by the economic collapse. http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2012/01/18/ten-hot-sundance-documentaries-to-watch/