The Best and Worst Documentaries of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival

Capsule review of eight Sundance docs, including 'Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind,' 'Bisbee '17,' and 'RGB.'


Bisbee ‘17

The latest masterful mixture of narrative and non-fiction from director Robert Greene (Kate Plays Christine, Actress) goes into the city of Bisbee, Arizona, as it approaches the centennial anniversary of the Bisbee Deportation, in which thousands of strikers (most of them immigrants) from the local copper mine were taken from the city by gunpoint, loaded onto trains, and sent into the New Mexico desert. As the city’s current residents commemorate and research the event, Greene extracts their ghost stories and folk tales, and stages a full, cinematic dramatization of the strike and deportation. The compositions, camera movements, and score are forceful – the climactic accumulation of elements is really quite astonishing – and the act of bringing the past to life in the present becomes a meta-textual commentary on keeping history safely distant. But it’s not; he observes even contemporary commenters insisting the conflict was neither anti-labor nor immigration, but a matter of “safety.” Greene doesn’t draw the line to current anti-immigrant rhetoric. He doesn’t have to.

Stay tuned – I’ll be back tomorrow with capsule reviews of 16 dramatic features from the ‘dance.